A roadmap for building more diversity in your international enrolment

For the past couple of years at least, institutions and schools that aim to build their foreign enrolments have heard the prevailing wisdom about how to recruit: diversify. Which is shorthand, in many cases, for “diversify beyond China and India.”

It’s not that China and India are no longer major drivers of enrolment growth for many countries – they definitely still are. For example, China alone has accounted for about half of overall enrolment growth in the US for the past 15 years. And in 2015/16, between one-third and one-half of international students in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK were from China and India.

But the history of international education tells us that nothing is perennially stable. Political instability, economic crises, a shifting geopolitical landscape, currency fluctuations, visa and post-study work rights policies, natural disasters, and increased domestic higher education capacity are all capable of disrupting student mobility patterns.

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International Minded Student Community

In the world of higher education around the world, internalization has been a big topic. According to last year’s EAIE Barometer, a research done collectively by Europe’s leading research company, Ecorys, and EAIE to study the state of internalization in Europe, the main factors are as follows:

– Strategic partnerships

– Improved recruitment and services for international students

– Boost quality of international courses

What’s important to note is that while much discourse on internationalization have happened, the same cannot be said on preparing students to thrive in this new-age global higher education environment.

The stepped up efforts to recruit international students is something to be lauded. That said, it is in fact international students that lack the global outlook and curiosity to discover new cultures. As a result, it is not unusual that international students remain relatively segregated within their own communities as they lack confidence and language ability to take part in discussions and activities.

Domestic students – students from the host country – would need to play their part as well to take full advantage of this new opportunities. That would mean domestic students need to genuinely engage their new foreign friends to make them feel welcomed and at home. As one can imagine, it’s a big step for anyone to uproot and live in a new country. Therefore, any assistance and warm hospitality from those in host countries would certainly be welcomed and helpful to ease the onboarding journey of international students.

 

Internationally-minded Students

(Image: kateescott.wordpress.com)

(Image: kateescott.wordpress.com)

Students play a crucial role to potentially impact the university’s international climate in a meaningful way. Domestic and international students must have an open mind to learn other cultures, be proficient in multiple languages, engage in meaningful discourse with professors and classmates on global issues, as well as be confident enough to showcase their unique culture and viewpoints.

More important than just being international, students must be internationally-minded. Though we have seen increased efforts and initiatives to prepare students with a more global outlook, there are only few noteworthy large scale programs, apart from the International Baccalaureate, or IB.

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