Over the last two years, annual outbound growth in China, while still strong, has fallen notably below the levels seen in decades. Average annual growth has been about 19% going back many years, but that long-term trend began to level off around 2013. Between then and 2015, year-over-year growth has slowed to 11-13% annually. At current outbound levels, this slowing growth rate has been hardly noticeable so far and China remains a major driver of overall enrolment levels in both established and emerging study destinations. But many institutions and schools have come to rely on that underlying, consistent growth out of China to hit their annual enrolment targets. And if China slows down any more, some recruiters are going to find those goals harder to make.
It has long been held that global university rankings are important to students, and that, particularly in some markets, they play a significant role in student decision-making for study abroad. This is partly why rankings occupy a prominent spot in the imaginations of recruiters, and why they remain a subject of enduring interest and debate in international education circles. However, this understanding has been tempered in recent years by new insights into the factors that drive student choice. This topic found its way into Hobsons’ 2017 International Student Survey (ISS). The survey is notable in part for its scale and reach, and Hobsons was able to compare responses from a sample of just over 34,000 prospective international students over the last 3 years. Nearly 2 in 10 respondents in that sample (19.6%) said that rankings played an important part in their choice of destination country. And just under a quarter (23.5%) said that institutional ranking was in turn the most important factor in their choice of university. The obvious flip side of these top-level findings is that rankings play a less significant role for a majority of prospective students.
After years in which American universities enjoyed steady growth in numbers of foreign students, many institutions expect international enrollments to be flat this fall. In interviews with officials at about two dozen universities, no consistent, unifying trends emerge, but some are reporting a slowdown in the flow of students from China and declines in graduate students from India, two countries that together account for nearly half of all international students in the U.S. Universities also continue to feel the effects of the declines in enrollments of Saudi Arabian students that began in 2016, after the Saudi government tightened up some of the terms of its massive scholarship program.
Richard Vedder, director of The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) outlines seven economic challenges for the higher ed industry in an article for Forbes. Among these concerns are: the huge increase in the cost of universities turning away potential customers, the surge in federal student aid inflating tuition and regulations allowing federal intrusion on campus matters, and the rise in cheaper alternative credential options detracting from the lower end of the higher education market. Vedder also addresses the value of the degree and college generally, writing that other big challenges will include: the nature of college changing from a diverse, safe space to a hotbed of political disagreement, lower capacity for industry resources due to slow economic growth and an aging population, the diminished value of the college degree in the workforce overall, and finally the high cost of intercollegiate athletics.
Business school applicants are planning to shun US business schools because of Donald Trump’s immigration policies. More than 21% of candidates indicated they agree that Trump’s immigration policies have impacted them, and that they will only apply to schools outside the US, in an annual survey by Stacy Blackman Consulting, an admissions firm. The survey also found that more than 80% of applicants agree that Trump’s stance on immigration will reduce the diversity of US business schools. The survey was conducted during spring of this year, with 755 respondents.
The UK government intends to keep visa-free travel for EU visitors after the country leaves the European Union, reports suggest. According to the BBC and Bloomberg, the UK is considering allowing EU nationals to freely visit the country, however working, studying or settling would require permission. An earlier report from The Times said EU citizens would be allowed to travel to Britain to look for a job without applying for a work visa. Companies wanting to hire EU workers would have to apply for sponsorship permits, however. The number of permits issued in any sector would be controlled by the government, which could charge for each to encourage British businesses to prioritize UK workers. A Home Office spokesperson responded to the articles saying, “These are just reports at the moment. We will set out immigration policy in due course.”
President Trump signed HR 3218, the ‘Forever GI Bill’, a $3 billion expansion of veterans’ education benefits. The Forever GI act immediately removed a 15-year time limit on the use of GI benefits. The measure also increases financial assistance for thousands serving in the National Guard and Reserve, building on a 2008 law that guaranteed veterans a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university, or a similar cash amount to attend private colleges. Veterans would get additional payments for completing science, technology and engineering courses, part of a broad effort to better prepare veterans for life after active-duty service amid a fast-changing job market. The law also restores benefits if a college closes in the middle of the semester, a protection that was added after thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges
A new report from the University of Texas System and the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analyzed the economic ramifications of a student’s college choice, finding that the major the student selects may be more predictive of future economic success than the particular college in which they’ve enrolled. The report indicated a $40,000 median gap between earnings of graduates from the top-earning majors (architecture and engineering) and graduates with majors in biology and life sciences, the lowest-earning degrees among UT grads. The report also found a $3.4 million difference in earnings between majors over the course of a lifetime, far surpassing the lifetime earnings gap between college and high school graduates. There is evidence to suggest that graduating from any school with particular majors could outweigh the benefits of attending a "top" school with a less valued degree; researchers found students who graduated from open-access schools in the UT system with majors that lead to high earnings have a leg up over graduates from selective schools with low-earning majors — architecture and engineering graduates from open-access schools in the system had median incomes more than 61% higher than all graduates of selective colleges.