‘Higher education areas’, following the model of the European Higher Education Area, are also emerging in support of these and broader economic goals. “You see these regions starting to collaborate to remove barriers to international student and staff mobility, moving towards mutual acceptance of degrees and credits, discussing moves towards joint quality assurance of higher education programmes,” says Becker.
The decline of the big players?
Does this mean that the big recruiters such as the UK, US and Australia are starting to lose sway? On this Becker is cautious. “If anything, experience shows that international student recruitment markets are highly volatile and that market developments cannot be accurately predicted – International student mobility patterns are influenced by many factors and can change quickly,” she says. She notes that Australia – where education exports fell AU$2.7billion in 2011 due to policies restraining recruitment – is now radically reviewing its student immigration policies. Canada and Ireland should also be added to this list.
“It is not possible to say to what extent the large recruitment countries will lose market share”
However, the big players are likely to lose more market share in the coming decade as the number of active recruitment countries increases says Becker. “This development will go gradually though, and it is not possible to say to what extent the large recruitment countries will lose market share.”
She will also put money on China becoming a much more important HE player in line with its economic ascendancy. As for the other up and coming destinations, “Their emphasis on foreign student recruitment is likely to continue. To what extent, is impossible to predict, particularly in the current economic climate,” she says.
Students taking University of London International Programme exams in Kenya (photos © British Council). The growth of offshore delivery is enabling a greater number of students to study within their own regions.
These shifts would not sound radical if they were not already well in motion. The OECD found America lost 5% of its share of the world market during the last decade, despite remaining the number one study destination and growing numbers in absolute terms. With the UK closing its doors through restrictive visa policies and Australia struggling to win back students, a reshaping of the recruitment landscape may arrive sooner than we think.