As promised, I have compiled a few reasons why it's prudent to diversify your recruitment efforts beyond a few prominent countries in Asia (namely China and Japan). Projected global demographic statistics will tell the tale.
Birth rates in the United States are decreasing. That means increased competition among U.S. higher ed institutions for both domestic and international students. The U.S. population is becoming increasingly inter-racial, inter-ethnic, and inter-religious -- which makes it quite difficult and less useful to identify people by traditional definitions. Source: stamats.com.
China: The Graduate Management Admission Council recently released its Application Trends Survey Executive Report 2004, which states that of the 238 programs that participated in the survey, 78 percent reported a decline in the number of applications to traditional full-time, two-year programs. Of note was the decline in applications from China and India. The Survey suggests that population trends and economic factors are two possible culprits behind the lack of growth in application volume. According to the report, the number of people at business school age (25 to 29) has declined, while the cost of an MBA program may be prohibitive for many potential students. With rising unemployment figures for Chinese college graduates and quality business programs offered by Indian schools, Chinese and Indian students may be placing less value in the foreign business degree. Source: gmac.com.
Follow-up Report, released 7 September 2004: The Council of Graduate Schools has further documented the declining number of international graduate students at American schools. China led the way with a 45 percent decline in applications and a 34 percent in admissions. India was second, with application and admissions numbers declining by 30 and 19 percent respectively, while South Korea had 14 and 12 percent drops... The most often cited reasons include the student visa process, the perception students have of the U.S. and more aggressive competition from other study abroad destinations. The President of CGS, Debra Stewart says, We have no reason to believe that these three factors will abate in the short run. In fact, global competition will surely accelerate in the future. Source: Council of Graduate Schools.
Japan: Japan's universities and colleges are facing a student shortage crisis earlier than previously expected... The number of places available is expected to equal or exceed the number of applicants from 2007, two years earlier than the eduction ministry previously predicted... The draw of popular and prestigious institutions and competition among the private sector will likely mean a growing financial crisis for less popular schools... (Another likely outcome: Enhanced efforts by Japanese educators and administrators to keep their students in-country, as opposed to studying abroad.) Source: eltnews.com.
Where we see the brightest spots, in terms of international recruitment opportunities:
Korea: The Education Ministry's latest university restructuring plan calls for shifting from quantitative expansion to qualitative advancement of the highest institutions of learning... Currently, there are 411 universities and colleges in Korea (compared to 140 in 1970). The rate of students going on to colleges has reached 81 percent compared with the United States' 63 percent and Japan's 49 percent. The number of students per professor, however, is 31, more than double that of high schools... The ministry intends to cut the fresh enrollment quota by 95,000 in five years, while weeding out marginal schools through abolition and merger... The success of the program depends largely on the response of private schools, which account for 83 percent of total universities and almost entirely depend on tuitions for their financing. Source: KoreaTimes.
Turkey: Demographics experts expect this cross-roads country to become the most populous in Europe in the next few years. In 2004, almost two million students took the Student Selection Exam for the 2005 academic year. However, given the shortage of space in Turkish universities, only one-tenth of the students taking the exam will be able to enroll in Turkish universities. Students who are unable to enroll in a university in Turkey will be looking at the opportunities of studying abroad. According to the Council of Higher Education (YOK), some 50,000 Turkish students annually receive university education abroad. It is estimated that of this number, 13,489 students are studying for a bachelor's degree, 3,617 are studying for a master's degree, 2,103 students are pursuing doctorate degrees. The remaining number of students are enrolled in language schools; short-term certificate programs (from 1-9 months); and high schools. Popular courses of study include business administration and economics, engineering, computer science and other technical fields. Source: buyusa.gov/easternmed.
Greece: Approximately 52,800 students (out of an estimated tertiary enrollment of 201,868) studied abroad last academic year. More than half went to the U.K., and only 2,768 students enrolled in U.S. institutions. Greek students (and their affluent parents) do not need to be convinced that international education is a great idea; they just need more information about academic alternatives in the USA. Source: Atlas of Student Mobility.
Spanish-speakers will continue to thrive, both domestically and internationally. Hispanics currently represent the largest minority group in the United States, or nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population (or 37 million people in July 2001). Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Latinos are not a homogeneous group. It is likely that Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, Guatemalans, and others have different patterns; beware of the tendency to lump groups together in order to create support for marketing efforts. Source: stamats.com.
Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iraq and other countries with strong Muslim populations are challenging but propitious markets. International educators would do well to establish relationships in those regions, due to the sheer growth of their student-age populations.
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