Transnational Education
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Thoughts, research, current events, and instructional models -- for accredited degree programs delivered internationally

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Foreign Student Enrollment Leveling in US

I was not surprised to read Foreign Enrollment Levels Off at U.S. Schools in the Washington Post today. The article reviews the drop in the growth rate of foreign students coming to the US for college from 6.4% to 0.6% over the past two years. I guess so many things have hinted at this recently that I just figured it was common knowledge.

The article cites a few reasons from a few sources of why this may be happening: visa restrictions, student registration delays, high costs, and increased competition. All of these affect TNE in one way or another. In a global economy, the best service at the best price should win out. No doubt many TNE providers in Europe, Australia, and Asia are looking to these obstacles as the sign of a good time to make serious inroads in this market.

However, while many annoyances do exist, the article also reports that the US still holds a position of favor among many students worldwide. "IIE President Allan E. Goodman said the data show that the United States remains 'the number one destination for foreign students' despite individual 'horror stories' about long visa lines and brusque consular officials. "

Perhaps "perceived value" is still as important as actual value. Whether colleges and universities in the US are a better value or not, if they are perceived by students (and more so by employers) worldwide as top-notch, they will continue to draw students.

Meanwhile, the US should not sit back if it wants to retain its position as a favorable education provider. The article makes this interesting observation: "Education represents a huge source of invisible exports for the United States, with economists estimating that the country earned nearly $13 billion last year from tuition fees, room and board, and other goods and services purchased by foreign students. According to the IIE, some large states such as California typically earn more from foreign students than they do from football and baseball combined."

These kinds of statistics have not gone unnoticed in places like Singapore. Although this tiny island is not making any money from football and baseball, Tom reported to me that they are positioning themselves to be the Southeast Asian hub for TNE, providing the living services and goods for students who go there to receive educational training – training coming from Australia, US, UK or anyone else that is providing this service in Singapore.

Which country will position itself to become just such a place for Europe? My bet is on Romania...

posted by Mark at 8:10 AM | Link | Comments

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Tom Nickel
TNE Lead Blogger
Guangzhou, PRC
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