What’s heating up in international higher education for 2020?
“In 2020, we see campuses adapting to new norms by putting processes in place to proactively help international students feel welcome”
Anthony Rotoli, CEO of Terra Dotta – specialists in enrollment, mobility, and risk management software for higher education – explores some trends that are likely to heat up in international education in 2020.
The world of international higher education is continually changing – whether due to recent shifts in global dynamics, diversifying student populations or international education-focused priorities evolving across institutions.
Also, many colleges are responding to dropping international enrollment numbers among first-year international students, causing them to modify their own recruitment efforts and programs supporting international education. Let’s explore some trends that we see heating up in international education in 2020.
Addressing Lower International Enrollments
While STEM-focused higher ed programs continue to be a draw for international students worldwide, the widespread reduction in enrollment of international students is taking a significant toll. Colleges and universities throughout the world largely enjoy fostering a global campus environment by having international students on campus, and many of them rely on international student tuition to help maintain overall financial health.
Particularly in the U.S. where there has been a more pronounced decline in international students – due to immigration policy, gun violence or other factors – many institutions are grappling with how to respond.
In 2020, we see campuses adapting to new norms by putting processes in place to proactively help international students feel welcome and to help them navigate the government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) process and complete other new Optional Practical Training (OPT) paperwork seamlessly.
Health and Safety Considerations Evolving
Supporting the mental health of students is of paramount importance to institutions across the globe, and there are specific international education implications including an uptick in mental health issues among international students.
Moving into the new year, we expect to see more proactive programs being deployed around the nuances of this issue, including new types of accommodations that take cultural differences into account, more specific staff training and expanded campus-wide support services for international students.
Campuses are also seeing increased challenges around meeting mental health needs for students participating in education abroad programs. Ranging from trouble facilitating disclosure of issues to managing geographic licensing regulations around counselling or medication disbursement, institutions will look to place more emphasis on meeting travelling students’ mental health needs moving forward.
“Campuses are also seeing increased challenges around meeting mental health needs for students participating in education abroad programs”
Also, the Forum on Education Abroad is enhancing their set of best practice standards to help address health and safety issues, including mental health.
Non-Traditional Study Abroad Programs + Environmental Considerations Heating Up
Study abroad no longer refers to only studying a subject in pursuit of a specific degree. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an expansion of non-classroom based education abroad opportunities.
This has opened the door to many more students being able to participate in education abroad programs, including many who would otherwise not have been able to attend more traditional semester-wide programs.
We see this trend continuing in 2020 with more opportunities like internships, non-credit and service education abroad programs. These expanded options will enable more students to gain valuable experiences abroad that contribute to their post-graduate employability and overall global outlook.
Along with this concept, there has been an increased focus on eliminating or reducing travelling students’ and faculty’s carbon footprint. For example, the State University of New York (SUNY) system employs a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program as a way of bringing teams or groups together virtually to work on projects or learn together.
Also, AFS-USA recently made an announcement that they will begin paying carbon offsets for all exchange students. In the world of education abroad, we see environmental consciousness continuing in 2020 with a stronger focus on “Do No Harm” criteria for study abroad programs – which takes into consideration the possibilities of impacts on a geographic region after a trip has been completed.
“There has been an increased focus on eliminating or reducing travelling students’ and faculty’s carbon footprint”
Overall, the international education landscape continues to shift as institutions worldwide seek to serve their student populations’ needs most effectively while maintaining an open and welcoming perspective to the international community.
By introducing new ways to connect with and support international students as well as offering new types of education abroad experiences and addressing their comprehensive needs, colleges and universities will be better equipped to meet students’ global needs in 2020 and beyond.
About the author: Anthony Rotoli is CEO of specialist enrollment, mobility, and risk management software for higher education business Terra Dotta.