EAIE New Knowledge Alert: November 2019

EAIE New Knowledge Alert: November 2019

You’re racing to the end of the calendar year and springing into winter holiday mode. Social engagements are crowding your agenda and seasonal treats are filling your stomach. Why not also feed your curiosity and pamper your intellect with some timely new resources giving shape to the field of international higher education? Here’s a short list of reading material released in recent months to get you started with a different kind of ‘holiday binge’ – a new knowledge feast!

Tracking mobility trends

The repetition of holiday traditions is something many of us look forward to at this time of year. For me (international education geek that I am), this includes the annual November release of the Institute of Education’s (IIE) Open Doors report. The role of the US as a major global destination for internationally mobile students makes this yearly data snapshot significant to student mobility-watchers around the world.

Among the key findings for the period 2018–2019 is that total international student numbers in the US grew by a miniscule 0.05% over 2017–2018. Worrisome for the US is the fact that this year-on-year percentage change has been dropping precipitously since 2014–2015. On the plus side, the sliding trend in new international student enrolment has levelled off. Indeed, in fall 2018, the numbers of international students enrolling for the first time at a US institution decreased by just 0.9% in comparison to the previous year, whereas in 2017–2018, new international student enrolment declined by 7%.

Of potential concern, however, is the fact that the US continues to rely heavily on attracting students from two source countries: China (comprising 33.7% of the total international student enrolment in the US) and India (18.4%). Also less than encouraging, of the top 25 sending countries to the US, 15 register declines in numbers of students enrolling in US higher education in comparison to the previous year.

Separately, and earlier this year, IIE released a report that provides a first-ever look at the outbound credit mobility trends of students enrolled in US graduate programmes. Who’s Counting? Understanding the Landscape of Graduate Learning Overseas finds that only a very small percentage of US graduate students (3.4%) undertake an “overseas” learning activity and that the vast majority do so “voluntarily, not to fulfil degree requirements.” Issues confounding the collection of such data likely mask a larger phenomenon, which the authors conclude is not widely or effectively supported by organisational practices and structures in the US context.

A more global perspective on student mobility trends is provide by a new study on Global Competition for Talent: A comparative Analysis of National Strategies for Attracting International Students. Authored by Rajika Bhandari and supported by the Qatar Foundation, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), and IIE, this report focuses on the national-level efforts of six “established host countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the US), as well as four “emerging destinations” (China, Ireland, Japan and the Netherlands). It offers an analysis of countries’ motivations and incentives, a classification of key strategies, insights into other emerging destinations, and ten key takeaways for “a world in flux.”

Finally, if you just can’t get enough of a data fix, the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2019 report is sure to delight. The section devoted to “the profile of internationally mobile students” offers a treasure trove of information and analysis that brings nicely into focus key international student mobility and enrolment dynamics for the period 2010–2017.

Taking aim at sustainability and inclusion

If student mobility is less your thing, and the ‘so what?’ aspect of international education and intercultural engagement is calling to you of late, you might be interested in some different kinds of offerings. For example, a new instalment in the ‘Routledge Focus on Environment and Sustainability’ series, which is co-published by UNESCO and Routledge, is now freely available. The Manual for Developing Intercultural Competencies: Story Circles (by Darla Deardorff) is a hands-on resource aimed at educators, trainers, policymakers and others who are interested in leveraging an internationally tested methodology grounded in “an ancient tradition of storytelling” for developing intercultural competence. The ultimate goal is to strengthen our collective ability to leverage diversity in the effort to “ensure inclusive and sustainable development” around the world.

Sustainable development is also the focus of the early October release of Implementing the 2030 Agenda at Higher Institutions: Challenges and Responses, a publication of the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI). This report provides perspectives from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe on the difficulties higher education institutions face in responding to the sustainability agenda, and how various actors at institutional, regional, national and international levels are rising to these challenges in particularly innovative ways.

Looking for the bigger picture

Several recent publications offer some especially expansive perspectives on key issues of the day. Notable among these is the Global Innovation Index 2019. Co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (a UN agency), the GII is now in its twelfth iteration in 2019. Its effort to rank the capabilities and results of some 130 national economies around the world provides insight into the “multi-dimensional facets of innovation”, many of which are clearly connected to the work of globally connected and competitive higher education institutions and systems, with the role of universities highlighted repeatedly in the report. The 2019 GII (which focuses specifically, but not exclusively, on the future of medical innovation as a key theme this year) ranks the top two to three economies in each of seven major world regions and provides insight into the world’s top science and technology (S&T) clusters or cross-border regions. Asia and the US dominate the top 10 positions on the S&T clusters list, but Europe is heavily represented in the top 50.

Finally, of central importance to the work of international education professionals, it was delightful to see earlier this fall the release of the 5th Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education, under the title Internationalization of Higher Education: An Evolving Landscape, Locally and Globally (authored by Giorgio Marinoni). Data provided from nearly 1000 respondents in 126 different countries allows for a unique multinational picture of institutional perspectives on priorities, policies, human resources, staff development, student mobility, curricular matters and more.

To be sure, there is plenty to learn and digest as you close the door on another incredibly dynamic year in the field of international education. All good wishes for the season ahead!

Laura E. Rumbley
EAIE, the NetherlandsLaura is Associate Director of Knowledge Development and Research at the EAIE.