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The Value of Higher Education website, created by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is devoted to highlighting issues and trends in higher education. We provide news, insight, resources and a positive platform for discussion about America's ever-changing higher education system.


ICEF Monitor, July 18, 2017 — Report Reviews Trends Affecting Global Demand for Higher Education

A new British Council report sets out the key trends that are shaping both higher education demand and international student mobility. Here are some of the highlights:

  • As the global population is expected to grow to approximately 11.2 billion people by 2100, the breakdown by region will change, largely precipitated by the growth in the African population, 60% of which is below the age of 25. While the Asian population continues to age, the population proportions will create further shifts in the global economy and mobility, and – at a more granular level – in demand for skills and courses. With regard to learning, demand for higher education is positively correlated with the youth population of a country: in general, the higher the number of university-aged students, the more likely a higher number of students will be interested in tertiary programs.
  • Astute governments globally are establishing evidence-based national strategies for the internationalization of their education sectors; the most mature parts of such plans pertain to the recruitment of internationally mobile students: as countries invest more in domestic provision and a wider selection of viable higher education destinations emerge, governments are aiming to maintain or increase their global market shares of mobile students. A unifying element to most of these national strategies is that they are part of larger, multifaceted, multi-sector approaches to prosperity. Such strategies are generally closely linked to plans for trade and economic development.
  • The financing of education for students is no longer solely consumer- or even government-driven as increasingly corporate interests are funding education, be it for professional development or human capital investment. There is ample evidence that corporate promotion and support of lifelong learning lead to higher productivity, a better equipped workforce and a leadership pipeline, as well as employee retention and loyalty.
  • The development of technology designed for education, often from start-ups, has great potential to transform how people learn. Education publisher Pearson reported a pre-tax loss of £2.6 billion for 2016, due in large part to weakness in its US education business, which is contending with sector transition from textbooks to digital learning. However, despite this widespread evolution, a report from tech-focused education conference EdTechXGlobal and IBIS Capital calculates that education is yet only 2% digitized. It further projects that the ‘edtech' market would grow by 1.7% per annum to US$252 billion by 2020, and while the US and Asia region are making strides in this area, European countries remain underinvested
  • Students and families appear to be placing more emphasis on value and, in particular, on the return on investment of an overseas education. At the same time, there are growing indications that major employers are placing less emphasis on educational brands – for example, via greater openness to non-degree credentials or by adopting so-called "blind" hiring processes that exclude school-specific information.
  • English has become an important lever for international student mobility. This is reflected in global demand for English language learning, but also in the rapidly expanding field of English-taught degree programs in non-native-English-speaking destinations. The report adds: "English language provision also plays an important role in mobility, as the language acts as a draw for international students. Further, the language can be a pathway for future mobility as well, as students studying English in a host country tend to return to that country when pursuing overseas study."



Higher education institutions in the US hosted a record-breaking 1.08 million international students in 2016/17, according to a new Open Doors report. This marks the second consecutive year of the US hosting 1 million + international students – but a decline in new enrolments was also revealed. According to the report published by IIE and the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the new findings signal a slowing of growth, with an overall increase of just 3% compared to increases of 7-to-10% for the previous three years. Much of the increase reported for the past couple of years can be attributed to more students pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) related to their academic fields after their degree studies, and thus remaining longer in the higher education system. The number of new international students enrolled at a US institution for the first time in autumn 2016 declined by nearly 10,000 students to 291,000 – a 3% decrease from the previous year. The top places of origin for international students studying in the US were China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. The scaling back of large Saudi and Brazil government scholarship programs were said to be a significant factor in a flattening of growth, as the number of students from those two countries showed the biggest decreases at all levels, including non-degree study. Other factors driving the decline in new enrolments were reported to include a mix of global and local economic conditions and expanded higher education opportunities in students’ home countries.

The latest Open Doors report has revealed the number of US students studying abroad in 2015/2016 increased by 4% to 325,339, with the UK, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany coming in as top host countries. The report conducted by IIE highlights the country’s increasing focus on preparing its students for a multicultural global marketplace. Currently, 10% of US undergraduates study abroad before graduating. Europe was found to be the top host region, attracting more than half of US students who studied abroad, followed by Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. Strong growth was noted in Australia, Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa. China dropped out of the top five host countries, as the number of US students studying there decreased by 9%. US higher education is increasingly focused on preparing students to secure jobs after graduation in order to advance their careers, and research has shown that studying abroad helps students develop the skills needed to succeed in today’s interconnected world.

The potential risk to UK universities from post-Brexit academic flight has been laid bare in a report that reveals there are regions where up to half of academic staff in some departments are EU nationals. The British Academy report warns that economics and modern language departments will be particularly badly hit if European academics leave the UK, with more than a third of staff in each discipline currently from EU member states. British universities have warned the government they risk losing talented EU staff who need greater clarity on their post-Brexit rights if they are to commit to remain in the UK. Now the British Academy, which is the public voice for the humanities and social sciences, has named the subjects most at risk as a result of the continuing uncertainty over immigration rules after Brexit. Top of the "at risk" list are economics and modern languages, with 36% of economists and 35% of academics in modern language departments from EU countries. Next are mathematics (29%), physics (28%), classics and chemical engineering (26%) and politics and international relations (25%).

QS has released their annual TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report, which is based on a survey of actively hiring MBA employers around the world. Hiring increased 13% globally over the period analyzed for the 2018 report—a figure in line with healthy periods of MBA hiring. This is nearly double the level of growth employers predicted in the last edition of the research. This is most pronounced in the two most-mature MBA hiring regions: Western Europe and the US & Canada. In both regions, there is a 10% growth in hiring levels—considerably greater than the 2 and 3% predicted respectively. In the case of the US & Canada, this comes on the back of strong growth reported last year; while growth is more modest this year, consecutive strong years of hiring are certainly positive. In Western Europe, on the other hand, this is particularly heartening, given sluggish recovery over the last decade. This is a reflection of strong GDP growth in the Eurozone. In both regions, there is a 7% growth predicted next year. The strongest growth globally, however, comes from the Asia-Pacific region (including Australia and New Zealand), which saw an 18% growth. Asia-Pacific, driven by China and India, along with the fast-growing ASEAN region and traditional strongholds like Japan and Australia, has been the big story for a few years now, and remains so this year. Predictions for next year are at a more modest level. The last edition of this report reported that MBA salary levels were slightly lower than the record highs reported two years ago. This year, they largely see a recovery, albeit not quite to those record high levels. North America leads the way, with employers in the US & Canada reporting base salary levels of US$98,900.

Canada has come out on top of a new IDP research paper on global study destinations, due to its safe environment and government policies which are seen as warm and welcoming. IDP’s Student Buyer Behavior research looked at the top five English-speaking destination countries, and examined how 4,200 mobile students rated a range of the nations’ drivers, including safety, affordability, education quality, and graduate employability. Canada is highlighted in the report as a destination experiencing momentum in the global study market, while the US lost out in regard to safety, affordability, visa requirements, and graduate employment opportunities. The UK was not hit as hard as some may expect by the choice to leave the European Union, but the research does indicate that it is seen as a less safe study travel destination in 2017.

Columbia Law School will join six other law schools, including Harvard and Georgetown University, in accepting the Graduate Record Exam for admission as an alternative to the LSAT. Columbia announced that it will accept the GRE scores from applicants to its three-year J.D. program beginning on a trial basis in fall 2018. Taking the GRE, the school said, could be particularly attractive to those whose academic or professional pursuits have not aligned with the study of law. To comply with American Bar Association standards, the law school conducted a study that used a data privacy technique to evaluate the GRE performance of current and past Columbia Law School students. The study concluded the GRE is comparable to the LSAT in predicting success in the first year of law school at Columbia.

New research from World Education Services (WES) finds that 89% of international alumni and 92% of current international students believe their U.S. education is a good investment. However, many face difficulties navigating visa authorization, gaining work experience, and finding jobs in their home countries or the U.S. after graduation. The research report, Career Prospects and Outcome of U.S.-Educated International Students: Improving Services, Bolstering Success, delves into the career expectations and outcomes for international students, barriers to professional success, and ways career services offices can better support international students’ transition into the workforce. The research shows:

  • Nearly half of international students who return to their home country after graduation cited visa-related and work-related issues as the primary reason for returning.
  • Among alumni who remain in the U.S., 47% cited lack of professional connections as a major obstacle in finding employment. Over 40% of current international students have not used career services offices.

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