Monday, January 30th, 2023 20:47:22

New Age Players and Expansion of Education Marketplace

By Sarat C. Das
Updated: January 3, 2023 7:22 am

Among the most emerging challenges for the young adults of today is to find the right programme which can define their career for the rest of their working career. It is not merely finding a programme but the right institute, affordability of such a programme (combining personal fund with scholarship/tuition waiter/bursary option), meeting the eligibility criteria, or even the most critical of all, choosing the host country for the same.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, there were over 6 million international students, up from 2 million in 2000. Then there was a drop during the intense Covid years, and now the graph unticked. Student mobility in the first decade of the 21st century has been transformed by three major external events: the terrorists attack of 9/11, the global financial recession of 2008, and an increasingly isolationist political order characterized by Brexit in the U.K. and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S.

The mobility of international students is influenced by many factors, particularly changes to the visa and immigration policies of destination countries that impact the availability of employment during and after education. Political developments are often a major consideration; for example, a survey conducted before the 2020 presidential election in the U.S. indicated that a quarter of prospective international students were more likely to study in the country if Joseph R. Biden was elected president. Australia has by far the highest ratio of international students per head of population in the world by a large margin, with international students represented on average 26.7% of the student bodies of Australian universities.

While the US is the leading destination for foreign students, there is increasing competition from several destinations in East Asia such as China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan which are keen to attract foreign students for reputation and demographic reasons. According to OECD, almost one out of five foreign students is regionally mobile. This segment of regionally mobile students who seek global education at local cost is defined as “glocal” students]. Many “glocal” students consider pursuing transnational or cross-border education which allows them to earn a foreign credential while staying in their home countries.

With the increase in tuition cost in leading destinations like the US and the UK along with the higher immigration barriers, many international students are exploring alternative destinations and demanding more “value for money.” Recalibrating value for money for international students It is projected that the number of internationally mobile students will reach 6.9 million by 2030, an increase of 51%, or 2.3 million students, from 2015.

The greatest percentage increases of numbers of foreign students have occurred in New Zealand, Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. Spain as a ”top ten” international student destination has been recognised by Institute of International Education (IIE), a leading organisation that focuses on international student exchange and aid, foreign affairs, and international peace and security.

‘’I am quite amazed looking at the growth of some of the destinations such as Spain where we run two of our premium institutions in the city of Barcelona — C3S Business School and Aspire Business School,’’ says Hiren Raval, ceo of C3S Business School.

”A combination of Spain’s rich culture and history and its affordable cost of living has made Spain a destination of choice for international students,” adds Raval.

‘’Part of the reason students are attracted to Spain is its lovely climate, its beaches, sumptuous cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and plentiful outdoor activities. This beautiful country in Southern Europe is currently one of the top international student destinations’’: says Nisar Muhammad, ceo of Cromwell College, UAE and a key stakeholder of Aspire Business School, Barcelona, Spain.

”Recently we have created a twinning programme option in association with UK universities and Ofqual regulated awarding organisations that offer an arrangement to study both in UAE and Spain through an agreement/partnership between institutions, which allows students to complete a portion of the degree at UAE and then proceed to complete the remaining modules of the degree at Aspire Business School and C3S.”

Hiren Raval says, ‘’We still can sustain the larger interest in our colleges in Spain by going online and delivering programmes in faraway locations and allowing these students to come to Spain for a short-stay in the form of a campus immersion programme’’.

‘’The response to this option, particularly in the area of postgraduate and research (DBA and portfolio-based PhD) has been overwhelming for C3S,’’ says Raval.

As choices for the universities multiply there is a proliferation of search engines, online recruiters, and admission mentoring and support services on the web. However, the effectiveness of these dedicated education search engines must be designed to make it easy for learners to search and find exactly what they need from the growing communities of trusted programme and training providers.

The education providers across geographies too find the need to target their market with laser precision and recruit the right candidates into their programme. To build sustainable international student recruitment strategies Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to diversify the markets from which they recruit, both to take advantage of future growth potential from emerging markets, and to reduce dependency on – and exposure to risk from – major markets such as China, India and Nigeria, where demand has proven to be volatile.

For recruitment strategies, there are some approaches that higher education institutions adopt to ensure stable enrollments of international students, such as developing university preparation programs, like the Global Assessment Certificate (GAC) Program, and launching international branch campuses in foreign countries.

 

Opening international branch campuses is a new strategy for recruiting foreign students in other countries in order to build strong global outreach by overcoming the limitations of physical distance. Indeed, opening branch campuses plays a significant role in widening the landscape of higher education. In the past, along with high demand for higher education, many universities in the United States established their branch campuses in foreign countries. According to a report by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), there was a 43% increase in the number of foreign branch campuses worldwide since 2006. American higher education institutions mostly take a dominant position in growth rate and the number of foreign branch campuses, accounting for almost 50 percent of current foreign branch campuses. However, some research reports have recently said foreign branch campuses are facing several challenges and setbacks, for example interference of local government, sustainability problems, and long-term prospects like damage to academic reputations and finance.

‘’In the growing market place merely being a student recruiter or providing choices through education search engines is not enough,’’ says Varinder Bajarh, promoter of estudentbook.com.

Bajarh explains: ‘’International students face several formidable challenges in their academic studies at North American and European universities. Studies have shown that these challenges include several different factors: inadequate English proficiency; unfamiliarity with host country’s culture; lack of appropriate study skills or strategies; academic learning anxiety; low social self-efficacy; financial difficulties; and separation from family and friends. We at estudentbook.com address these challenges at length through effective tutorial and mentoring support’’.

International students studying in a foreign country face a life-altering event which can cause distress that can potentially affect their mental wellness. Many students report homesickness and loneliness in their initial transition, experience isolation from peers and struggle with understanding cultural differences while staying abroad. ‘’In certain cultures, mental illness is seen as a sign of weakness and we are busting this myth through our team of psychologists and well-being trainers for the students,’’ says Chander Shekhar Sharma, the co-promoter of estudentbook.com. ‘’Because of this, international students believe they can prevail through their struggles alone without help, which can lead to a decrease in mental wellness.’’

Language and communication barriers have been noted to add to student anxiety and stress. International students face language discrimination, which may exacerbate mental health symptoms. Evidence has not conclusively shown that language discrimination is a greater risk factor than discrimination against foreigners. However, there has not been any conclusive evidence to show whether language discrimination plays a significantly larger role than simple foreigner discrimination. ‘’Since international students are less likely to use individual counseling provided by the university and may experience even more intense stigmas against seeking professional help, group-oriented ways of reaching students may be more helpful,’’ says Abhishek Nakhate, founder of zoomabroad.com, a go-to platform for international education through community support and cutting-edge technology. ‘’Group activities, like collaborative workshops and cultural exchange groups, can introduce a sense of community among the students/ In addition, efforts can be placed to improve awareness and accessibility to mental wellness resources and counseling services. Social workers, faculty, and academic staff can be educated beforehand to provide adequate support for them,’’ adds Nakhate.

The platform zoomabroad.com received a massive impetus to its growth with the joining of Bill Rammell as its president. Rammell, former vice chancellor of University of Bedfordshire and who served as the UK Minister of State for Higher Education and several other portfolios including foreign and commonwealth affairs, apparently seems to have remain committed to Zoom Abroad’s mission to unravel each student’s unique potential by helping them find their “best-fit”.

Zoom Abroad has positioned itself as a ground-breaking platform in the international student recruitment industry with its unique marketplace where the most authentic information is accessible to aspiring international students through innovative tools, comprehensive content and a team of world-class mentors.

”Our unyielding efforts have been to help aspiring international students to seek their choice of program through a technology-driven platform that embodies highest operational excellence standards to deliver bespoke solutions, based on each student’s unique needs,’’ says Nakhate.

Navin Manswi, who founded WowExp a leading multiverse company in the space of Web3, says, ”My company’s vision recently has expanded, as we are foraying into education.” ‘’The creates immense possibilities in the way we deliver education today.’’

”With Multiverse, we can conceive education apprentices that don’t just go through the course and then carry on with self-learning. Multiverse’s Community allows them to attend talks and events, adds a lot of value to their experience and creates a culture of continuous learning. They get a community of peers with a shared common goal:” elaborates Manswi.

To sum up, international education not only helps students with their language and communicating skills, but also encourages students to develop a different perspective and cross-cultural understanding of their studies which will further their education and benefit them in their career. The main factors that determine the outcome quality of international studies are transaction dynamics (between the environmental conditions and the international student), quality of environment, and the student’s coping behavior.

Undeniably it can be said, the expansion of choices and proliferation of organisations in the education marketplace is mobilising more and more students and education providers while encouraging a variety of pedagogical approaches to accomplish the dissemination of knowledge across the diversity of social, cultural, economic, national and biological backgrounds. Though not too sure how much it is adding up to universal access to education, the so-called ability of all people to have equal opportunity in education, regardless of their social class, race, gender, sexuality, ethnic background or physical and mental disabilities. But definitely, it is not pivoting from that noble concept, the equal opportunity access and inclusion of students across geographies.

 


By Sarat C. Das

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