In 2015, global leaders gathered in South Korea and discussed the future of education. Together, they prepared the Incheon Declaration for Education 2030, which provides a holistic view on the upcoming years of all lifelong learning opportunities and possibilities for quality education. The declaration outlines several main objectives, and all of them are equally important.
First of all we have accessibility. With focus on children and young people, this objective strives to build a foundation of literacy and numeracy for the upcoming generations.
The second objective is about ensuring equity and inclusion, which puts emphasis on learners’ needs, decreased discrimination and increased gender equality. It defines the need for diverse and inclusive environments – a point that can and should be emphasised within universities as well. Having a diverse international student body coming from various nationalities is an amazing way of working towards the aforementioned goal.
Lastly, the Declaration focuses on the topic of quality of education and all lifelong learning opportunities. Obviously, it is essential not only to reach out to as many people as possible but also to offer them the same quality of education.
What is important to know about lifelong learning opportunities: do not forget that lifelong learners often do not fall into the typical age group of 18-25 years olds. Recruiting lifelong learners often implies using a different approach including thinking about their financial status (better off than the 18-year olds), family relationships (marriage and children), time management preferences (a 38-year old businesswoman might want to have an opportunity to work on her Master’s online and have her classes on a session-based schedule once every 2 months).
All of these objectives are offering a holistic view on education and its perspectives in upcoming years. The general tendencies still lean towards working on domestic sectors and improving locally. But as we look at data from the UNESCO institute for Statistics, the improvement of education globally has a positive impact on student mobility as well.
The recent article points out that university enrolment is growing rapidly all around the world. In 2000, around 2 million students studied abroad. In 2013 the number has doubled to 4.1 million of students. If such growth can happen in just 13 years, what can we expect to by 2020?
Another interesting trend is that the most active region for student mobility is Central Asia, which experienced growth in mobility from 67,300 to 165,542 international students in 10 years. The reason stated is that the supply of higher education was not sufficient to meet the corresponding demand, which led students to start exploring opportunities abroad.
Another extremely mobile region, Sub-Saharan Africa, experienced a more steady growth: between 2003 and 2013, student mobility increased only by 60,000 students (from 204,900 to 264,774). This data suggests that the need for tertiary education in the region is stable now and growth is not as rapid as it used to be in previous years.
These two regions take the lion’s share on international mobility. Only 1% of South and West Asian students have studied abroad, followed by 0.9% of students from Latin America and the Caribbean. North America takes the last position with only 0.5% of outbound student mobility ratio, compared with the number of all tertiary students in the region.
But overall, the numbers are showing great progress for local mobility (within the region). In the Middle East, 1% growth was registered between 1999 and 2013, with Saudi Arabia being the third most popular destination for international students from the region. Other popular destinations for Saudi students were outside the region: France and the United States. In Central and Eastern Europe there was 15% growth and in sub-Saharan Africa is up 6%.
UNESCO has a list of popular destinations for international students. The U.S. (19% of international students) tops the list together with United Kingdom (10%), which doesn’t come as a surprise as these countries offer very high quality of education, well-developed infrastructure, and the language of instruction is English.
They are closely followed by Australia and France, both with 6% of international students, Germany (5 %) and the Russian Federation (3%).
As the report notes, students have shown less interest towards these destinations in recent years and as a result, these countries are facing a 6% decline of incoming students. New countries are emerging both as destinations for international students and as sending countries. That is important to remember not only for recruiting international students but also for promoting your university as an up-and-coming destination study abroad destination.
So, what are the emerging destinations that are competing with the thoroughly explored and established traditional student mobility markets?
For East Asia, 7% of the global share of international students in 2013 were taken by China, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. In the Middle East, there has been visible growth in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Overall, it is easy to see that there is a growing trend to study within a local region, which will eventually result in local universities growing stronger and more accommodating for a wider diversity of international students. The demand for quality education is growing everywhere, and with careful work and constant screening of new opportunities, universities will manage to cater for it.
ETN Focus Workshops are educational events aimed at diversifying your international student body. We connect local student recruitment experts with universities and institutions from all over the world.
If you are interested in recruiting international students from less explored markets, check out our events.