Category: USA

Comparing the US and UK: contrasting trends in international education

“The biggest challenge for British universities is that its top two source countries — China and India — are not driving enrollment growth”

International student enrolments in the UK have flatlined, with Indian students continuing their downward slide, according to the latest statistics published by the Higher Education Statistics Authority last week. But how does the picture compare in the US?  Dr. Rahul Choudaha, co-founder of research and consulting firm DrEducation, shares his analysis.

The following table shows the shape of international student trends in the UK and US in recent years, based on data from HESA and IIE’s Open Doors report:

US IIE and UK HESA data on international student statistics - Dr Education
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Dr. Rahul Choudaha is co-founder of DrEducation — a US-based research and consulting firm specialising in international student mobility trends and enrolment strategies.

Treat the Trump phenomenon like a study abroad experience

“We’re international educators, mostly drawn to the field to advance the notion of embracing the ‘other’. In this case, the ‘other’ happens to be a guy with ideas very foreign to our own”

There are many in international education who aren’t delighted at the prospect of Donald Trump becoming president, but the field is all about embracing the ‘other’ – so perhaps we should apply the same approach, argues Cheryl DarrupBoychuck, US director of institutional relations at INTCAS .

Aah, democracy.

Those pendulum swings can be painful but powerful pushes to new perspectives.
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After Trump’s win, there is no use in feeling sorry for ourselves

“The way we can truly make America great again is by thoughtfully addressing this situation, not acting like the sky is falling”

Eddie West, director of international programs at UC Berkeley Extension and former director of international initiatives at NACAC, shares his thoughts on Donald Trump’s shock win in the US presidential election this week.

I am deeply disappointed by the results. But there’s little use in feeling sorry for ourselves. Instead we have to learn from the outcome. Here’s what I think I’ve learned… And I hope you will indulge me.
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Why we should be building bridges, not walls

“Whatever the outcome of the election, each of us owes it to future generations to embrace a sense of curiosity and acceptance of the world”

With the presidential election looming, IES Abroad president and CEO Mary Dwyer writes on the imperative of reaching out beyond US borders, whatever the outcome.

In just four days, Americans will head to the ballot box to choose our next president. The election outcome will have a significant impact on whether our country will continue to be constructively engaged in global matters related to trade, taxation, climate change, immigration, security and cultural exchange, or whether we will embark on a path toward isolationism, populism and nationalism.
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Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D. is President and CEO of IES Abroad. Since 1950, IES Abroad has educated more than 110,000 students to become global leaders through study abroad and internship programs. Its consortium of 240+ U.S. colleges and universities offers worldwide experiential learning opportunities.

What does the US election mean for international education?

“It is a very frightening time to be an American”

I was at this year’s annual NAFSA conference in Denver, where I spoke to people from all around the world about a wealth of topics, both industry-related and not. But sooner or later, every conversation seemed to end up at one of two destinations: Brexit or the upcoming US presidential election. And sooner or later, everyone had to answer the same questions: Do you think Donald Trump might actually win? What do people make of him in other countries? What might happen if Hillary Clinton becomes president? What would either mean for international education?

Here are some of the things people had to say about how the election outcome might impact the sector, and how the campaigns so far have been heard around the world:

Beckie Smith is senior reporter at The PIE News and manages The PIE Blog. To get in touch, email beckie[@]

President Obama dazzles India to strengthen US-India ties

 “If the US is to continue to innovate, develop and flourish, it needs to not only recruit the brightest and best, but also the bold and the brave”

Adrian Mutton, Founder & CEO of Sannam S4, a company providing market entry and ongoing support services to international universities and skills providers in India, Brazil and China, writes about the recent US India CEO Forum and Business Summit that demonstrated an unprecedented willingness for collaboration in HE.

Adrian-Mutton_wwwWhen new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US in September 2014, he received a rock star welcome. He was greeted by a full house of adoring fans at Madison Square Gardens in New York and President Barack Obama gave the Indian Prime Minister two days of his time to talk about building better US-India ties and to personally show him around Washington, DC.

To return the compliment, President Obama was invited as chief guest to India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26th.

Arriving into New Delhi on Air Force One, as the President stepped off his plane onto the tarmac, he was greeted by Narendra Modi with a bear hug.

“The gesture, broadcast around the world, was a clear affirmation that the two leaders have developed a special personal relationship in a very short space of time”

The gesture, broadcast around the world, was a clear affirmation that the two leaders have developed a special personal relationship in a very short space of time. During the two day visit by President Obama, a nation of 1.3 billion people was gripped with the coverage of his every move, suggesting India’s population has also taken to the US President.

The key agenda points tabled for discussion included nuclear collaboration, climate change, increasing trade flows, visas and IPR protection. Leading up to the visit, a number of HE and skills related topics had also been promoted to both the White House and India’s Ministry for External Affairs (MEA) for discussion.

I was fortunate to have been invited to not only participate in the high level US-India talks at a summit held in New Delhi, hosted by both President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, but I was also delighted to have been asked to provide direct input into President Obama’s briefing. Inputs which were included in his final discussion points with Prime Minister Modi and senior US and Indian business leaders and officials, I later learnt.

My inputs were focused on explaining the type of support US universities, skills providers and mid market companies needed to succeed in India. I highlighted the need for a strong platform which dealt with the red tape, bureaucracy, compliance and tax issues faced by organisations when entering India. I highlighted challenges in recruiting good staff, establishing offices and knowing who to collaborate with locally and how to build sustainable partnerships – and, of course, raised the issue of the many “grey areas” around dual programs, tax on local activities and the now rather stale issues surrounding the foreign education providers bill.

“I highlighted the need for a strong platform which dealt with the red tape, bureaucracy, compliance and tax issues faced by organisations when entering India”

Drawing on case studies of institutions we proudly support at Sannam S4 in India, including the University of Bridgeport, University of South Florida, DeVry and MIT to name a few, I set out the vast opportunities these institutions faced and then detailed the specific challenges that hindered their progress.

Presenting Sannam S4’s LaunchPad model as an example, I explained how a strong local supportive environment can help US universities and skills providers flourish.

The US has made good strides of late with its visa policy and the processing of student applications. Unlike some other countries (no names needed!) recruiting Indian students, the PR surrounding studying in the US is positive and as a result its number of applicants is on the rise. The US recognises that Silicon Valley has been built on the brains of Indian students, the engineers across the US are from towns and villages across the subcontinent and that if the US is to continue to innovate, develop and flourish… and own the intellectual property and the rewards that go with it, it needs to not only recruit the brightest and best, but also the bold and the brave.

The US is not just seeking Indian students to become lawyers and bankers, accountants and actuaries, it is seeking to attract entrepreneurs, innovators and risk takers. This is a clear distinction between the US approach to student recruitment and policies adopted by election sound byte focused politicians from other countries.

“The US recognises that Silicon Valley has been built on the brains of Indian students”

The US has recognised that it is also not just student recruitment that is important to help foster long term ties between the two countries. The US India Educational Foundation (USIEF) in New Delhi, for example, led by its impressive and long term Executive President Adam Grotsky, who has decades of experience in India and a deep understanding of the culture and what makes for strong and sustainable ties between the US and India, is doing a sterling job on educational exchanges of scholars, professionals and students. USIEF has awarded approximately 17,000 Fulbright, Fulbright-Nehru, and other prestigious grants and scholarships in almost every academic discipline to promote long term bilateral ties.

The US administration has been working hard on supporting skills development programmes in India with its community colleges and is leveraging the funds available from the Indian government’s corporate CSR ruling to contribute towards new regional training initiatives.

The increasingly influential US India Business Council ( has a dedicated education and skills group which is fostering bilateral institutional relationships, particularly those with a commercial interest. With its incoming President Dr. Mukesh Aghi having a particular passion for educational ties between the two countries, I expect to see the USIBC’s focus in this area strengthen.

So after all the razzmatazz of President Obama’s visit, what was achieved on the higher education and skills development front?

Frankly, despite the excitement, the visit was unfortunately short of news grabbing headlines for the sector.

“Despite the excitement, the visit was unfortunately short of news grabbing headlines for the sector”

An exception was confirmation by President Obama that the US is to send 1,000 academics a year to India, something which had been discussed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the States last year and is not an insignificant initiative.

The central government sponsored Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)
aims to give Indian students and academics access to 1,000 US faculty per year, to broaden their horizons, exchange ideas and teaching methods and foster new research collaboration and partnerships.

There was no shock announcement regarding the Higher Education Provider Bill (despite some advanced lobbying during Secretary John Kerry’s visit to India earlier in the month), so no foreign owned campuses for now. There was no public discussion regarding India’s powerful University Grants Commission (UGC) and how it governs international partnerships, so nobody in the sector missed anything by not being tuned into the visit.

What was clear, however, was that the visit encouraged an unprecedented willingness for collaboration between the two administrations. A number of key initiatives have been tabled, several of which are taken from Sannam S4’s own contributions, which will now be pursued and monitored over the weeks and months ahead, so despite the lack of headlines, I am positive about what this visit will achieve mid to longer term.

“The visit encouraged an unprecedented willingness for collaboration between the two administrations”

The future of US-India ties for universities and skills providers has strong support from the highest level of both governments. It has the enthusiasm of Indian students, scholars and business leaders and a focus from the Indian administration on addressing red tape and the complexities of operating in the market. Institutions in the US will have no doubt seen the coverage of the visit at home, reminding them of India’s vast potential.

A touch of realism and pragmatism is still needed of course, but I came away from the visit, truly believing that the stage has been set for a new era of US-India collaboration. For many India has been a frustrating market (particularly when compared to China), fraught with the challenges I have highlighted above. However, I expect to see many exciting opportunities develop over the months and years ahead, which, if well supported in India, will bear rich fruits. The bold and the brave, both institutions and students, will likely be rewarded.

There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ international strategy

“You can’t assume that your domestic marketing strategy can be applied internationally with the same level of success”

Dan Sommer, Education Marketing Expert and President of Global Education, Zeta Interactive, considers some of the challenges university officials must consider when building effective regional strategies.

Over the past 12 months, universities have experienced declining enrolment numbers for a variety of reasons: demographic shifts; an improving economy; increasing competition from both for-profit institutions and more traditional schools; and the influx of disruptive technologies and learning platforms. University officials are now tasked with looking at creative ways to counterbalance declining domestic enrolment numbers.

In the past, university leaders have been forced to consider things like adjusting discount rates or modifying quality standards to meet financial objectives when tackling declining domestic enrolment. Now, however, increasing international recruitment is a meaningful alternative to consider and one that we see as a top five priority for most university leadership teams.

Going international represents an opportunity for institutions to maintain tuition while counterbalancing declining numbers, but it presents an array of challenges to marketing and admissions teams. You can’t assume that your domestic marketing strategy can be applied internationally with the same level of success.

There Is No Such Thing As A ‘One Size Fits All’ International Strategy

When expanding to international markets, it is important to understand the regional differences that might impact your success. Developing an awareness of how your brand will fit in different regions is key. Further, some regions are more price conscious then others and may require differential pricing or scholarship options to overcome financial barriers. Thus, as you develop an international strategy, the first step is to dive deep into the educational landscape of the country you are entering.

“As you develop an international strategy, the first step is to dive deep into the educational landscape of the country you are entering”

Finding the Right Product Market Fit

A number of factors should be considered when launching particular programmes. For example, there are regions that have truly embraced online programmes (the UK), while others take a more mixed position (Canada). Yet others do not currently recognise or support online learning (certain regions in Asia). In developing your strategy, understanding both consumer and government acceptance of online learning is key. Based upon what you uncover, you might consider a strategy that focuses on a hybrid model with some classroom learning and some online, or a or periodic campus immersion experience with the majority of learning online, with limited face to face campus time. I have seen the latter be highly effective for South American recruitment.

Institutions should also consider whether additional contact hours or local student support is needed to enhance the learning experience. If your programmes are taught in English and you are in regions where English is secondary, you may need to deploy additional tutors to offset the potential learning gap.

“It’s important to consider whether your programmes are fully relevant to local conditions and economies”

Finally, it’s important to consider whether your programmes are fully relevant to local conditions and economies. While the MBA is currently the most popular programme internationally, each region may have preferences regarding specialisations (e.g. entrepreneurship vs. Islamic Finance). It is dangerous to assume that the programme that works so well in the US will work equally as well in every region.

Selecting The Right Marketing And Recruitment Partners

In an ideal scenario, it would be possible to generate all of your international inquiries within your marketing department or with your existing partners. The reality is there are many nuances to local student recruitment. For example, if you plan to recruit students in Russia and CIS, selecting a partner with Yandex experience is key. If you are utilising email marketing services, does your partner understand local privacy regulations? There are thousands of new media outlets to consider, from local, SEO-driven education directories to highly targeted regional publications that the right partners can introduce into your marketing mix.

Further down the ‘funnel’ are call centre partnerships (locally and with regional expertise) that can play an important role in qualifying traffic. US institutions often attempt to call new web leads within 120 seconds, but this may not play well in some regions. Language and tempo may also need to be altered on a regional basis and can be the difference between success and failure in new markets.

The Devil is In the Details

Last, but certainly not least, is the question of whether your institution has the operational infrastructure to qualify and enrol international students. Often, institutions create separate units to manage lead flow and applications from international students. Developing the infrastructure that will allow for the proper vetting of candidates (e.g. understanding whether local credentials meet admissions standards, language qualification, and even consideration of prerequisites) can be highly complex.

In addition, local currencies and exchange rates could present a number of challenges for your finance team. Many institutions consider outsourcing aspects of the enrolment process, which can help to reduce some of the complexities.

Dan Sommer is an education marketing expert. He is the President of Global Education at Zeta Interactive,  a leading digital marketing company that helps global brands to acquire, engage and retain customers. Dan has helped dozens of universities to innovate and achieve success through innovative marketing acquisition, retention, engagement and partnership programs. 

10 essential things to consider when choosing a US University

Dustin Daniels at Florida State University on 10 things international students should know before choosing to study in the USA:

1. Location and Culture

The first thing to know about the American university system is that there are over 4,000 colleges and universities to choose from. These sites of higher education range from small liberal arts colleges to large public research universities, specialized community colleges, and many others in between! I’d say two of the most common kinds of universities are those found in more urban city centres and those found in more rural ‘college towns’.

Going to school in the city can be a very rewarding experience, as the city life can help complement your time as student and add a layer of cultural discovery to your collegiate career. On the other hand, it might also dilute or convolute your time as well, as the hustle and bustle can sometimes build a wedge between you and the university student experience. Likewise, a ‘college town’ is typically a place where you can find a small community coalescing around a university as its main focal point and lifeblood. There is something to be said for this kind of school, but it might also mean you don’t have access to the amenities or the diversity of a large city.

2. University Pride and Alumni Network

One of the amazing aspects of the US university system is the great pride and enthusiasm that folks develop for their school. This pride often starts with competitive sports programs, but also manifests in many other areas. It isn’t uncommon, for instance, for students to wear university apparel, attend university events, and rejoice in university achievement, whether it be a sports championship or a faculty member winning a research award. Pride for your university allows you to build powerful relationships that often transcend generations, backgrounds and ideologies. It allows you to feel part of a greater community; a feeling that you quite frankly cannot put a price on.

With this university pride comes an alumni network. These networks are used to help people continue to stay connected to their university, while also allowing for professional development and advancement. It isn’t uncommon for graduates in the US to get their first job as a result of connections or information provided by a university’s alumni network. When picking the best school for you, you ought to consider the kind of network that will stand behind your degree and help you get where you want to go.

3. Public and Private Universities

There are two types of universities in the US: public and private. The main differences between the two are the prestige of studying at a private university over a public one, and the cost which obviously is much cheaper at a public university. A year of classes of public tuition costs around $3,500 (around £2,250) whilst some private universities charge well over ten times that. A public university also has a large number of students, which may suit someone who thrives in a social educational environment. Private universities have smaller classes and allow students to forge closer relationships with their tutors.

4. Scholarships and Funding

When looking at how to pay for a US education, your focus should then turn to scholarships and funding.  Not all US universities offer scholarships to international students and government loans can’t always be applied to paying for and tuition and fees. Despite this, increasing fees for university around the world have made the U.S. university system quite competitive comparatively to other countries around Europe. One of the most important things to look at is the OVERALL cost of going to a particular university: specifically tuition and fees, on-campus or off-campus accommodation, cost of living in the location of the university, etc. One of the most confusing traps I have seen international students fall into is being distracted by only looking at tuition fees or the kind of scholarship universities offer. Here is a typical scenario:

University A is a public research university located in a small city. It costs $40,000 a year to attend, including accommodation and tuition. University B is a private university located centrally in a large city. It costs $100,000 to attend for all accommodation and fees, but it offers a 50% scholarship to all international students.

As you can see, even with no scholarships, university A would be a better choice from a funding standpoint.

5. Liberal Arts Education: Majors, Minors and Credits

Liberal Arts colleges and universities provide specialised education in the basic disciplines of humanities, plus social and behavioural sciences. They offer a huge range of potential Major subjects, including Political Science, Religion and Sociology. All universities will also allow you to study a Minor subject if you so desire. Some Majors even allow a Minor to take the place of supporting coursework. Each Major and Minor requires a certain level of credits that need to be achieved to qualify for a degree. The definition of a credit can be difficult for someone who has not been born in the U.S. to get their head around. Credits are awarded for the time you spend studying or in class. If you have already attended University in the UK, you should be able to transfer some credits across.

6. Internships & Undergraduate Research

Internships and Undergraduate Research programs are where companies sponsor students to go to university in the hope of securing them as employees once their studies have finished. This is an excellent way of securing financial backing for your studies, and some companies will even help with accommodation and transport. It’s not all study though – some companies will expect you to work for them as well, particularly during breaks.

7. Rankings

When choosing a university, the rankings that are produced by several independent institutions are a good place to start, but should be viewed with a grain of salt. These rankings can tell you about certain qualities of schools, but can leave out some vital information such as student satisfaction, engagement, and alumni performance. They can also be biased towards smaller universities that focus on a few key subject areas. Many times students think that the ‘Ivy League’ schools are the only ones worth considering, when many non-Ivy schools are collectively and in many individual programs more well-regarded. At the end of the day, US universities all over the country are known for something, so make sure to cast a wide net.

8. The US Student Experience

The main difference between being a US student and a UK student is that whilst the UK student is encouraged to be an expert in a single field, a US student is more likely to become successful if they can exhibit a breadth of knowledge. On the social side of things, students in the U.S. are much more likely to spend time together, especially on campus. Many students will live on campus for all four years of their degree. Eating and playing sports together and being members of sororities and fraternities is a big part of university education.

9. SAT & ACT

Many times students wonder whether their secondary school program, whether it be an IB diploma, A-Levels, Advanced Placement, etc. allows them to forgo taking their SAT or ACT tests. The answer is almost always NO! Because U.S. schools have students from all over the world applying, it is hard to fairly compare them. After all, a student’s achievements in Canada vs. in Italy may be completely different. This is where the SAT or ACT come in. These standardized tests focus on general knowledge and skills in math, verbal reasoning, writing and science, though each is slightly different. They are usually required for all students as a way for the university to compare students effectively and to predict how they are likely to do in their first years of studying. Few universities waive this requirement, but some do let you postpone taking the exam until after admission.

10. Cultural Capital & Global Consciousness

US universities do their best not to promote cultural capital and to treat all students equally, no matter their social status. However, outside of the lecture halls and classrooms students from poorer backgrounds may find themselves at a disadvantage, and be looked down upon by those more socially fortunate.

More information on Florida State’s International Gateway Program can be found at, where they offer some useful tips of their own for any potential students.