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Higher education institutions are struggling to evolve from a limited market of international student recruitment. Right now, almost one in two international students in the United States is from either China, India, or South Korea. This is because these countries provide an existing market for recruitment, making it easier, quicker, and cheaper to gain diversity through these countries rather than reaching out to other locations. The problem with such a narrow spectrum for higher education diversity is that the economic growth of both China and India is decelerating, which could impact enrollment of international students.
World Education Services (WES), a non-profit organization and the leading source of international education intelligence, has released a new research report, “Beyond More of the Same: The Top Four Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment.” As many institutions are attempting to diversify their student bodies by seeking international students from a broader range of countries, WES provides suggestions for which countries are the most promising and how to begin recruiting internationally. The report discusses the top four countries in which the higher education institutions (or HEIs) in the United States would benefit. In order of importance, they are Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Turkey.
According to Rahul Choudaha, Director of Research and Advisory Services of WES, “Emerging markets in this report are characterized by their growth potential to send international students overseas. This is a function of at least two primary variables–economic growth which fuels aspirations of upward mobility and ability to afford foreign education; and second, size and growth of college-ready education pipeline.”
Recruiting international students is competitive and complex. According to the report, institutions are expected to “recruit quality students, while ensuring diversity within the shortest span of time and with limited financial resources.” This makes it difficult to recruit from other locations, though it would be wise to look into other markets. “Working with emerging markets, however, is a double-edged sword. While it presents potential rewards, there are also challenges to achieving international student enrollment goals, particularly in finding academically prepared and self-funded students,” states the report.
Choudaha told Toonari Post that over-reliance on just a couple source countries can make total enrollment of international students at HEIs sensitive to uncertainties in these countries. “For example, economic uncertainty in China and India could adversely influence not only overall international student enrollment but also diversity of international student body.”
China, India, and South Korea are still expected to retain a high number of prospective students, but the United States should cultivate emerging markets to expand diversity. WES used the Delphi method to gather predictions and opinions from experts of higher education to identify possible growth markets.