Where are US, UK

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Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli

Will the United States and United King­dom con­tinue to at­tract in­ter­na­tional stu­dents? Don­ald Trump’s at­ti­tude to ‘out­siders and im­mi­grants’ and the Theresa May-led UK gov­ern­ment’s re­cent visa poli­cies in­di­cate that the go­ing might get tough for young In­di­ans firm­ing up their study abroad plans.

Ac­cord­ing to Phil Baty, ed­i­tor, Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion World Univer­sity Rank­ings, a surge in pop­ulist feel­ing against for­eign­ers and im­mi­grants in the US and the UK, and dra­matic changes to the po­lit­i­cal land­scape at the back of such sen­ti­ment, is likely to harm both coun­tries as des­ti­na­tions for all in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

After Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion was con­firmed, Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion wit­nessed in­creased web­site traf­fic to pages fea­tur­ing Aus­tralian and Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties. “We have al­ready seen that re­stric­tive visa poli­cies and hos­tile rhetoric in the UK has led to a se­ri­ous and alarm­ing drop in the num­ber of In­dian stu­dents com­ing to study in the UK. Such moves could be se­ri­ously harm­ful to both Amer­i­can and Bri­tish higher ed­u­ca­tion. One of the things that makes both coun­tries thrive in global rank­ings and which makes their uni­ver­si­ties the envy of the world is that the uni­ver­si­ties them­selves are com­mit­ted to be­ing truly open and truly in­ter­na­tional, wel­com­ing tal­ented peo­ple from all over the world,” Baty says.

Fewer for­eign stu­dents would hit Western uni­ver­si­ties not just fi­nan­cially, but in­tel­lec­tu­ally and cul­tur­ally, to the detri­ment of both na­tions, says Baty.

In this sce­nario, it is how­ever, very im­por­tant to stress that univer­sity lead­ers and uni­ver­si­ties re­main ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to wel­com­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. Stu­dents who ig­nore the rhetoric from politi­cians would still be made very wel­come in UK and US in­sti­tu­tions.

“Only last week, in Davos, I was talk­ing to Subra Suresh, the In­dia-born pres­i­dent of Carnegie Mel­lon Univer­sity in the US, one of the very best in the world. He was de­ter­mined to stress that the US and UK, both op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to him when he first came to the US as a post­grad­u­ate stu­dent must re­main open to to­day’s stu­dents and fu­ture stu­dents,” adds Baty.

Uni­ver­si­ties in the two coun­tries have been run­ning so­cial me­dia cam­paigns seek­ing to re­as­sure in­ter­na­tional stu­dents that they very much wel­come. These in­clude #wearein­ter­na­tional and #youarewel­come­here.

US and UK have wit­nessed con­trast­ing trends with at least four places of ori­gin – In­dia, Saudi Ara­bia, Nige­ria and Hong Kong. Ten times as many In­dian stu­dents are study­ing in the US as in the UK. Amer­i­can higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions are more de­pen­dent on China and In­dia as com­pared to Bri­tish in­sti­tu­tions.

Rahul Choudaha, co-founder of DrE­d­u­ca­tion, a US- based re­search and con­sult­ing firm spe­cial­is­ing in in­ter­na­tional stu­dent mo­bil­ity trends and en­rol­ment strate­gies, says while the UK has an ad­van­tage over the US in at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from Nige­ria, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, it can­not un­der­es­ti­mate the In­dian mar­ket be­cause of its scale and growth po­ten­tial. UK faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion for In­dian stu­dents against the US, which ex­pe­ri­enced a dra­matic in­crease in the num­ber of In­dian stu­dents pri­mar­ily in en­gi­neer­ing and com­puter sci­ence fields.

With Brexit, the post-grad­u­a­tion em­ploy­ment and im­mi­gra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties will be­come more re­stricted. It is likely to hurt the en­rol­ment for the mas­ter’s pro­grammes for nonEU in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grammes for EU stu­dents, he adds. De­spite high qual­ity and re­li­able rep­u­ta­tion of the Bri­tish higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, un­wel­com­ing im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies are very likely to hurt the at­trac­tive­ness of the UK as a study abroad des­ti­na­tion. “UK uni­ver­si­ties rely heav­ily on in­ter­na­tional stu­dents for meet­ing its en­rol­ment goals. The com­pet­ing des­ti­na­tions like Aus­tralia and Canada with more wel­com­ing im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies may ben­e­fit from this tur­bu­lence,” says Choudaha.

Ex­perts also say that the US and the UK, for some­what the same rea­sons, will be­come less at­trac­tive to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the near fu­ture. There will be a va­ri­ety of im­pli­ca­tions of the “Brexit men­tal­ity” in the UK and “Trump­ism” in the US, likely mak­ing visas some­what more dif­fi­cult to ob­tain.

Ac­cord­ing to Prof Philip Alt­bach, found­ing di­rec­tor, Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Higher Ed­u­ca­tion at Bos­ton Col­lege, although no one knows the de­tails yet, “The rhetoric re­lat­ing to in­ter­na­tion­al­ism in both coun­tries is al­ready chang­ing. On the other hand, both coun­tries will re­main among the largest host coun­tries or in­ter­na­tional stu­dents – the qual­ity of uni­ver­si­ties, the use of English, among other fac­tors, will con­tinue to at­tract stu­dents. Other English-speak­ing host coun­tries, such as Canada, Aus­tralia, and New Zealand, are likely to be more at­trac­tive. Some Euro­pean coun­tries may also ben­e­fit by a de­cline of the US and UK. And some po­ten­tial in­ter­na­tional stu­dents may de­cide to stay home,” says Prof Alt­bach. Ev­ery year, a num­ber of In­dian stu­dents who wish to study abroad choose the US and the UK. But the po­lit­i­cal changes in the last one year in the two coun­tries has left In­di­ans think­ing how it will im­pact their chances of pur­su­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion in these coun­tries.

Re­cent data from the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Statistics Agency UK shows a de­cline in num­ber of In­dian stu­dents to the UK.

In­dia saw the largest per­cent­age de­crease, at 44% be­tween 2011/12 and 2015/16. In num­bers, this meant that in 2015/16, the num­ber of stu­dent en­rol­ments domi­ciled from In­dia was 13,150 less than in 2011/12.

It is worth not­ing how­ever, that the de­cline in stu­dent en­rol­ments domi­ciled from In­dia be­gan in 2010/11.

Though t he Open Doors re­port on in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the US says that the growth in in­ter­na­tional sci­ence tech­nol­ogy en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) stu­dents is likely con­nected to the 25% in­crease in stu­dents from In­dia, ex­perts say Trump’s win might leave stu­dents skep­ti­cal.

Rahul Choudaha, co-founder of DrE­d­u­ca­tion, a US- based re­search and con­sult­ing firm spe­cial­is­ing in in­ter­na­tional stu­dent mo­bil­ity trends and en­rol­ment strate­gies, says the big­gest chal­lenge for Bri­tish uni­ver­si­ties is that its top two source coun­tries – China and In­dia – are not driv­ing the en­rol­ment growth. These two coun­tries ac­count for over one-third of the to­tal in­ter­na­tional stu­dent en­rol­ment in the coun­try.

For the last four years, the over­all en­rol­ment for China has grown at a much slower pace ( com­pared to the US), while In­dia has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a con­sis­tent de­cline.

De­spite the growth in num­ber of In­dian stu­dents, the US higher ed­u­ca­tion is also fac­ing a tougher en­vi­ron­ment for at­tract­ing in­ter na­tional stu­dents for fall 2017. Three of the four top source coun­tries – China, South Korea, and Saudi Ara­bia – are wit­ness­ing a slower rate of growth.

“In­dia was the only mar­ket among the top four coun­tries, which wit­nessed a dou­ble-digit growth rate. In­dian stu­dents are value-seek­ers and hence they are con­cen­trated in mas­ter’s pro­grammes, which of­fer a more likely work ex­pe­ri­ence through three-year long STEM Op­tional Prac­ti­cal Train­ing. How­ever, with the re­cent de­mon­eti­sa­tion of In­dian cur­rency and a per­cep­tion of stricter im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, In­dian num­bers are likely to be af­fected at the mas­ter’s pro­grammes,” he adds.

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