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The Value of Higher Education website, created by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is devoted to highlighting issues and trends in higher education. We provide news, insight, resources and a positive platform for discussion about America's ever-changing higher education system.


ICEF Monitor, July 18, 2017 — Report Reviews Trends Affecting Global Demand for Higher Education

A new British Council report sets out the key trends that are shaping both higher education demand and international student mobility. Here are some of the highlights:

  • As the global population is expected to grow to approximately 11.2 billion people by 2100, the breakdown by region will change, largely precipitated by the growth in the African population, 60% of which is below the age of 25. While the Asian population continues to age, the population proportions will create further shifts in the global economy and mobility, and – at a more granular level – in demand for skills and courses. With regard to learning, demand for higher education is positively correlated with the youth population of a country: in general, the higher the number of university-aged students, the more likely a higher number of students will be interested in tertiary programs.
  • Astute governments globally are establishing evidence-based national strategies for the internationalization of their education sectors; the most mature parts of such plans pertain to the recruitment of internationally mobile students: as countries invest more in domestic provision and a wider selection of viable higher education destinations emerge, governments are aiming to maintain or increase their global market shares of mobile students. A unifying element to most of these national strategies is that they are part of larger, multifaceted, multi-sector approaches to prosperity. Such strategies are generally closely linked to plans for trade and economic development.
  • The financing of education for students is no longer solely consumer- or even government-driven as increasingly corporate interests are funding education, be it for professional development or human capital investment. There is ample evidence that corporate promotion and support of lifelong learning lead to higher productivity, a better equipped workforce and a leadership pipeline, as well as employee retention and loyalty.
  • The development of technology designed for education, often from start-ups, has great potential to transform how people learn. Education publisher Pearson reported a pre-tax loss of £2.6 billion for 2016, due in large part to weakness in its US education business, which is contending with sector transition from textbooks to digital learning. However, despite this widespread evolution, a report from tech-focused education conference EdTechXGlobal and IBIS Capital calculates that education is yet only 2% digitized. It further projects that the ‘edtech' market would grow by 1.7% per annum to US$252 billion by 2020, and while the US and Asia region are making strides in this area, European countries remain underinvested
  • Students and families appear to be placing more emphasis on value and, in particular, on the return on investment of an overseas education. At the same time, there are growing indications that major employers are placing less emphasis on educational brands – for example, via greater openness to non-degree credentials or by adopting so-called "blind" hiring processes that exclude school-specific information.
  • English has become an important lever for international student mobility. This is reflected in global demand for English language learning, but also in the rapidly expanding field of English-taught degree programs in non-native-English-speaking destinations. The report adds: "English language provision also plays an important role in mobility, as the language acts as a draw for international students. Further, the language can be a pathway for future mobility as well, as students studying English in a host country tend to return to that country when pursuing overseas study."



According to a report by the Urban Institute, about 3 million adults live more than 25 miles from a college or university and lack the sufficient internet speeds to take online courses. While that is only 1.3% of the nation’s population, nearly 12% of Native Americans and indigenous Alaskans live in so-called education deserts. That makes them 16 percentage points less likely to attend college than Americans who live close to college campuses, and even less likely to complete it, by 18 percentage points.

According a poll by Gallup and Strada Education Network, people are much more likely to say they received a high-quality education that was worth the cost if they found their college courses to be relevant in their work and daily lives. According to the poll, consumers who strongly agree their courses are relevant to their careers and lives are 63 percentage points more likely to strongly agree their education was worth the cost and 50 percentage points more likely to strongly agree they received a high quality education. The poll also finds that perceived relevance is related to well-being. Consumers who strongly agree their courses were relevant are 18 percentage points more likely to be "thriving" in their overall sense of well-being.

NJ Gov. Murphy wants $50 million in next year’s state budget to make a “major down payment” toward tuition-free community college, and he estimates 15,000 students would be able attend community college for free starting in January 2019, with the goal of offering free tuition to all students who go to two-year schools by 2021. $45 million would go toward a tuition grant program for students with average household incomes below $45,000. The grants would pay for students’ “last dollar” expenses that are not already covered by other grants or funds. The remaining $5 million would go toward expanding building capacity and improving completion rates at the state’s 19 community colleges to help the schools adapt for a boost in enrollment.

An article in the Register-Guard examines the looming trade deficit facing the United States in one of its most successful areas of export: higher education. The author cites statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which outlines that non-Americans purchased $39.4 billion in educational services from the United States in 2016, while Americans purchased about $7.5 billion in educational services from outside of the country. Many public institutions have offset damaging budget cuts with increased enrollment of international students, which topped 1 million students nationally for the first time in 2016, but has fallen in the last two years to just over 808,000 students. Increased competition from Canadian institutions, a Muslim travel ban, mass shootings and tough talk on student visa programs are limiting the United States' stronghold on innovation and revenue generated by international students.

U.S. News & World Report announced the 2019 Best Graduate Schools which are designed for prospective students looking to continue their education and advance their careers. U.S. News evaluates graduate programs across six major disciplines: business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing. The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business moves up this year to tie with Harvard University for the No. 1 spot among full-time MBA programs. For part-time MBA programs, the Haas School of Business at the University of California—Berkeley comes in at No. 1. Among law schools, Yale University and Stanford University maintained their respective No. 1 and No. 2 ranks. Harvard University rounds out the list at No. 3. Harvard is once again the No. 1 medical school for research. Johns Hopkins University follows at No. 2, and New York University and Stanford tie for the third spot. This year, U.S. News updated the Best Graduate Schools methodologies by reducing the value of reported GPA, GRE and GMAT scores: For the first time U.S. News reduced the value of reported GPA, GRE and GMAT scores for full-time and part-time MBA programs and GRE scores in the education rankings if less than 50% of an entering class submitted these scores. U.S. News believes this lack of data means the scores are not representative of the entire class.

According to the 2018 QS Applicant Survey Report, a global survey of study abroad applicants, there are two trends significantly altering the landscape of international education: (1) a less welcoming policy environment in the leading two destinations, the UK and the US, and (2) an increased willingness among students to consider alternative destinations, especially Canada, as well as Australia for students in the Asia Pacific region. The survey shows that while the US and UK remain applicants’ top choices for study abroad, these destinations are losing ground in important source regions.

The Trump administration is considering placing visa restrictions on Chinese students coming to the US and ending a program that allows frequent travelers to obtain visas that last 10 years – a move that has been described by CEO of NAFSA Esther Brimmer as potentially “devastating”. The move comes as part of a package of anti-China measures, which reportedly include tariffs on at least an annual $30 billion of Chinese imports, to pressure Beijing to end requirements that U.S. companies transfer technology to Chinese firms. According to Open Doors data, Chinese students accounted for a third of all international students studying in the U.S. for the 2016/2017 academic year, by far the largest percentage of any nationality. In a statement, Brimmer said a reduction in Chinese international students would have a chilling effect on the country and policymakers should act boldly to let Chinese students know they are valued and welcome.

New data from the U.S. State Department points to a marked decrease in the number of F-1 visas issued to international students in 2017. The F-1 visa class applies for students engaged in long-term studies in U.S. higher education, as well as those on Optional Practical Training (OPT) placements following graduation. The State Department now reports a total of 393,573 F-1 visas issued for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2017. This represents a 17% decline from the 471,000 F-1s issued in 2016, and a nearly 39% drop in F-1 visa issuance from the recent-year high in 2015.

According to data from the Lumina Foundation, in 2016, 46.9% of Americans aged 25 to 64 had a postsecondary degree or certificate. That is a 1.1 percentage point increase in a year and a nine percentage point increase since 2008. However, according to the report, that rate of increase is not large enough to meet a goal of 60% by 2025. Further, the Lumina data show significant gaps by race and ethnicity. While modest progress has been made since 2008, attainment rates for African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian students continue to lag those of whites and Asian-Americans.

The US has seen its dominance of the higher education sector reduced, with new research showing the country has taken a smaller share the of the top spots in the QS World University Rankings by Subject than in previous years. In contrast, British and Asian HEIs have improved performances in the past year, albeit with only modest gains to show for their efforts. The rankings revealed that the US took 34 of the 48 available number-one positions, a smaller share than 2017, when it took 35 of 46. The research also revealed there has been a slight decrease in the US share of top-three positions across the 48 tables — from 55.7% in 2017 to 54.8% in 2018. The National University of Singapore is again the top performing HEI in Asia. It takes 11 top-10 places across the 48 subject tables. That's out of 30 top-10 places occupied by Asian universities, meaning that NUS dominates the Asian HE outlook. By comparison, Japanese universities claimed only seven top-10 places, with Chinese and Hong Kong institutions making five appearances at the top of the 48 tables.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities announced a new effort in which 100 public research universities — organized in clusters of eight to 10 institutions — will work together to increase graduation rates by hundreds of thousands by 2025. The clusters will develop, refine and scale innovative practices in a way that also aims to close the achievement gap, the group said. Participating schools will commit to sharing key data and advocating proven practices within their groups in an effort to develop models that could work on a larger scale. The new Center for Public University Transformation will serve as the framework to support the clusters as they move forward in coming months. APLU said it expects to use its existing networks of higher ed institutions to create the clusters, which could be arranged by location or types of institutions. The clusters could work together to determine specific areas to focus on, such as adaptive courseware, proactive advising or completion-focused financial aid approaches that are unique or appropriate for the students attending institutions within the cluster. The clusters are expected to be organized and ready to work within a year.

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