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2020: Demand for HE to outpace international student mobility

The Horizon Scanning report by The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

Growth in global HE enrolments will decline from 5-6% to 1.4% annually in 2020

Improved domestic provision of higher education, increased intraregional student mobility and the overall growth of Transnational Education (TNE), will meet the growing demand for higher education in 2020 say over 20 global higher education leaders.

“TNE variants may prove to be a more prudent recruitment vehicle than relying only on international students”

Growth in global HE international enrolments will decline from 5-6% to 1.4% annually in 2020 as demand in the developed world slows and supply in BRIC countries increases, the paper claims.

Major destinations such as France, Germany and New Zealand are already experiencing this: their international enrolments grew by less than 10% from 2005 to 2010.

“In practical terms I don’t think it means anything dramatic. It probably means that TNE variants may prove to be a more prudent recruitment vehicle than relying only on international students,” William Lawton, Director of Observatory on Borderless Higher Education told The PIE News.

As economic power shifts to Asia intraregional mobility is becoming more widespread within the continent. With the ascent of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) there is more cooperation between the 10 countries, which includes two TNE leaders: Malayasia and Singapore as well as Thailand and Vietnam, who have developed plans in HE internationalisation.

Alongside Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania are emerging as new destinations, again due to intraregional mobility and what the industry terms as “glocals.”

The number of foreign students enrolled in tertiary education more than doubled from 2005 to 2010 in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Korea and Saudi Arabia.

In an interview for the report, Hans-Georg van Liempd, President of the EAIE, noted “in some cases it is better to talk about regionalisation rather than internationalisation, especially in the EU, where students who cannot find places in their own countries go to neighbouring ones.”

The overall slowdown makes the case for more strategic TNE plans that could eventually redefine traditional notions of  “internationalisation”.

“Even if fewer students actually travel to traditional destinations, that does not necessarily mean a less internationalised landscape overall. TNE options, including online, are international,” said Lawton.

Online provisions, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), will expand in the future according to the report. Blended learning that combines online and classroom teaching is predicted to become more prevalent by 2020.

Blended learning that combines online and classroom teaching is predicted to become more prevalent by 2020

Governments will also increasingly encourage both public and private institutions to cut the cost of education. This will mostly be achieved through “unbundling” which allows students to choose courses from different institutions and receive credit toward a degree or non-degree certificate. This wider range of credentials will have status equal to university degrees for employers.

While HE demand will increase at a slower rate in 2020 than in the last two decades, traditional source markets such as China will also change, with its 18-24 year old sector shrinking sharply and the state increasing its domestic capacity to meet HE demand.

Between 2009 and 2011, China built 426 Higher Education institutions. Five of its institutions including Tsinghua University in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai, also signed agreements with Singapore Management University to foster further academic cooperation and student exchanges.

Experts expect India will continue to dominate supply of outbound students. “Mobility out of India is only going to increase because they have less capacity domestically and because of demographics,” explained Lawton.

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