Kim Reid, Principal Analyst for Eduventures takes a critical look at the hopes and realities facing colleges and universities looking to international students to ensure future growth.
Reid cites Eduventures and CollegeWeekLive’s sponsored study of undergraduate and graduate international students admitted for the fall of 2015. The survey shows nearly half, or 47% of those participants who applied to U.S. schools, ultimately chose not to attend. The three major reasons cited, cost, deferment (students may choose to transfer or reapply in the future), and a lack of knowledge about the institution where they were accepted.
To illustrate the impact of cost, Reid suggests we look to the recent currency devaluation in China where almost overnight, Chinese students find their American education too costly to afford. Considering that 31% of international students come to the U.S. from China, this is an alarming situation that could last well into the foreseeable future. Reid points out “the ripple effect” of China’s stalled economy on other international student populations should be cause for serious concern for those “U.S. institutions (who) have unrealistic expectations of unfettered growth in international enrollments.” The reality is that, in Reid’s words, “affordability is endemic to higher education…good communication, is a ubiquitous problem for…recruiting any student, domestic or international.”
The bottom line here is transparency. Those institutions competing for international undergraduate students need to make their message clear. They need to build a global brand, that promotes “both the opportunity and the realist costs.” In other words, while cost will always be an issue, the international students should have the transparency they need throughout the enrollment process to know just what they would be missing should they choose not to attend.
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