IIE Network - Fall 2013 - (Page 46)
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The Who, How and What of Global Student Mobility
By Raisa Belyavina and Rajika Bhandari
THE NEXT “BIG thing” in student mobility
is beyond the numbers. During the past two
decades, there has been a steady increase in
students pursuing tertiary education outside
of their home countries: from 1.3 million in
1990 to 4.3 in 2011 (OECD, 2013). This article
focuses on the story behind the numbers: the
who, how and what of global student mobility.
Our observations are based on the decades of
experience that the Institute has in researching student mobility both within the U.S.
(through Open Doors and related projects),
but also globally through our Project Atlas
network of 20-plus countries.
There are two players in mobility: the stakeholders that facilitate mobility, and the
demographics of students that participate in
international education. One recent development in this area has been the increasing
role of governments, a trend that we believe
will only grow.
In 2005, the government of Saudi Arabia
launched the King Abdullah Scholarship
Program which, by 2020, will have sent hundreds of thousands of Saudi students overseas to enroll in undergraduate and graduate
degree programs and to pursue English language study. In 2011, the Brazil government
initiated its Scientific Mobility Program,
using study abroad scholarships to stimulate national development. Tens of thousands
of Brazilian students will benefit from the
exchange program, which requires them to
return home to complete their degrees at
home institutions and contribute to Brazil’s
growing economy. While the idea of running a national scholarship program for study
abroad is not new, what is new is the unprecedented scale and human resource potential
of such programs to transform national and
Regarding the demographics of globally
mobile students, we focus on one key development that hasn’t received sufficient attention:
the mobility of secondary school students. An
increasing number of students are undertaking
their first international education experience
at the secondary or high-school level, a trend
that is an early indicator of future growth (or
decline) in student mobility at the postsecondary or tertiary level. For example, the rising
number of East Asian students enrolled in
U.S. high schools might signal their intent to
pursue a higher education degree in the U.S.
Thus, to better understand and predict student
mobility in our colleges and universities, it
is important to also pay attention to what’s
happening at the secondary level.
There are two players
in mobility: the
and the demographics
of students that
This century’s boom in technology ushered
in an era of instant access to information.
Learning and education have changed dramatically with noticeable impacts on student
experience, pedagogy and academic mobility.
Most notably, massive open online courses
(MOOCs), with upwards of 180,000 students
enrolling in a single course, have changed
the landscape of higher education. In the
near future, more international students are
likely to ‘sample’ coursework from different
countries and higher education institutions
before they decide where to study abroad.
Social media and education platforms will
also facilitate collaboration and knowledgesharing like never before. Many developing
countries are also leveraging online learning
to increase access to higher education for
traditionally under-served populations.
volunteering projects and work experiences
that are both shorter and more outcomesbased. Among U.S. students, for example, in
2006/07 there were 8,584 engaged in work,
internships and volunteering abroad; this
number has almost tripled in the past four
years to reach a total of 25,080 students in
2010/11. Brazil’s Scientific Mobility Program
also has a summer internship component to
complement students’ academic pursuits.
There are many important vectors in
student mobility that we haven’t addressed
in this article, which merit a detailed exploration—including the skilled migration
debate unfolding in many top host countries,
including the U.S., and its impact on student
mobility; various push and pull factors that
motivate students to study abroad; and the
rise of global campuses and their impact on
mobility. But one thing is certain about our
field: in the years to come, new ideas in technology, the demands of global labor markets
and increasing pressure on governments to
provide educational opportunities for their
citizens will change the dynamics of how
globally mobile students choose to engage
with the world, what types of educational
experiences they pursue, where they come
from and where they go.
What international students are studying
and for how long has also changed. While
we know that more U.S. college students go
abroad for short-term study programs than
for any other duration, it is interesting to
note a growing interest in this type of shortterm, non-degree study among all globally
mobile students. For instance, Open Doors
data shows an increase in the numbers of
non-degree international students.
With the global emphasis on intercultural
and professional experience, students are seeking opportunities abroad such as internships,
Rajika Bhandari is deputy vice president,
research and evaluation, and Raisa Belyavina
is senior research officer with the Center for
Academic Mobility Research at the Institute
of International Education.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Network - Fall 2013
A Message from Allan E. Goodman
Megatrends: Predicting the Future of International Education
Considering Study Abroad’s Past to Prepare for its Future
The Promise of International Education: Building a More Just and Elevated Civil Society
Global Research and Commercialization: An Under-the-Radar Next Big Thing
Clustering Innovation and Industry: New Opportunities for Europe
Connecting the Dots: Integrating Engagement with International Stakeholders
The Rise of Real-time, Online International Recruitment
Hold on to Your Hats, MOOCs... Here Come the TOQUES!
The Global Youth Engagement Platform: A Peace Corps for the 21st Century
Growing Globally Competent Students to Achieve True Internationalization
Beyond Ourselves: Embracing Our Global Responsibilities
India: Expansion, Equity, Excellence
The Growing World of Collaborative Internationalization: Taking Partnerships to the Next Level
From Multi-national Universities to Education Hubs to Edu-glomerates?
Beyond the Numbers: The Who, How and What of Global Student Mobility
IIE Network - Fall 2013