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Dr Rahul Choudaha, World Education Services, USA

Dr Rahul Choudaha is an international higher education expert who heads up Research and Advisory Services at World Education Services in the USA. He also runs the influential blog, He recently talked Glocals, Generation Q and how to attract Indian students with The PIE.

The PIE: How did you become Dr. Education?

Right now the Indian market is mostly graduate students but this is going to change

RC: I was a typical middle class Indian guy who was told to study engineering, then to do an MBA, then to work in IT and to not think. So that is what I did. The first year I was working I really hated my job and that’s when I realised I had to find what I liked. I had always been passionate about education so I moved into the sector. I worked in India for five years and then came to the US to do my PhD in higher education. I was just following what I really liked and was in the right place at the right time.

The PIE: What is a “glocal”?

RC: A student from the middle class in emerging markets who doesn’t have the buying capacity of the premier high network individuals, but has aspirations to get an international education. They end up staying within their region because they can’t afford to pay to go to other countries. But also because of the amount of up and coming opportunities in the region and because of the proximity to their families.

The PIE: How are education providers responding to them?

RC: The whole phenomenon of branch campuses is actually catering to them precisely. For example there are many Indian institutions in the Middle East which are primarily catering to Indian students. It gives the students study abroad experience but at the same time they’re not going to the US or the UK.

Also the pricing is more economical at these institutions, so people who want to be associated with that brand name but at the same time don’t have the academic preparedness to take that step in their own country can make use of them. Qualitatively they are not as good as the Indian home campus. It’s a balance. The student can say I got a degree from Manipal – not Manipal in India but in Dubai.

Globally they have the attractiveness to get students from any part of the world

The PIE: And this is happening with international institutions too.

Yes, you have the international institutions coming to students. Yale’s collaboration with National University of Singapore is a good example. Here it’s not just Singaporean or Asain students, but globally they have the attractiveness to get students from any part of the world. This is very different from the Indian universities which are competing on price and lower admission standards. This is competing on reputation and quality.

It caters more to those students who have the money or the academic preparedness to go to a top university anywhere in the world, but are staying in the region because now the quality has come to their doorstep. They have compromised a little bit on quality – they’re not getting the true Yale degree, but a Yale-like degree – but are still staying in the emerging region.

The PIE: What other successful internationalisation strategies are you seeing in Asia?

RC: Apart from the branch campuses we also see “twinning” booming at the moment. Here students are being offered to spend two years at the home campus with an Indian, Chinese or Malaysian partner, and the next two years they transfer with their credits to another department at a school in the UK or Australia. It offers gain at a cost advantage and at the same time students get a balanced international experience.

Malaysia and Singapore who are much smaller in scale but are taking more steps to attract talent

The PIE: Are new country players wielding more influence in the Asian market?

RC: China and India are big from the perspective of the sheer size and momentum they can bring. However as destinations, Malaysia and Singapore are much smaller in scale but are taking more proactive steps to attract talent within the region. Japan is shifting toward this very focused migration approach which they are using to attract skilled migrants. Already China is a source for Japan.

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