General Updates

What role can agents play in diversifying foreign enrolment across a wider range of fields of study?

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
*Many institutions need to fill seats in programmes outside of business and STEM subjects
*Surveyed agents say that many of the students they work with are open to field of study recommendations
*Providing agents with solid training (and even a flexible incentive structure) and supplying them with comprehensive information about alternate programmes is a powerful way of diversifying international enrolments


Over the past few years, schools and universities have picked up the pace of their diversification into emerging markets, often to mitigate heavy reliance on two or three source countries. But as much progress has been made on this front, many institutions are still dealing with another issue: foreign enrolments are often concentrated across a relatively narrow band of subject areas. This is leading to capacity issues in those fields of study that are in the greatest demand, even as seats may be available in other programmes within the institution.


For example, Statistics Canada reports that between 2000 and 2019 in Canada, “There was increased concentration in source countries, provinces of study and fields of study of international students … The field of business, management and public administration attracted a large and growing share of international students studying at the college level.”
In the US, the top three fields of study for international students in 2019/20 – engineering, math and computer science, and business and management – enrolled more than half of all international students at US colleges and universities. And in the UK, four in ten international students studied either business and management or engineering in 2021.
In addition to business and STEM studies representing only a fraction of the total courses on offer in destination countries, national governments need international students to choose programmes that are linked to labour market gaps in their economies and then to work in those fields after graduating.
Sometimes those gaps can be filled by business and STEM graduates, but not always. For example, the pandemic has created a massive need for workers in health and medicine; manufacturing, construction, and retail management are also short on skilled workers. Those are broad trends – but labour market needs shift at the regional and municipal levels as well.


Agents as key facilitators


Are international students aware of these dynamics – of the relevance of alternate programmes and the jobs and salaries attached to graduating with those skills? Are they aware that outside of urban centres, there are both well-paying jobs and often lower cost of living?
Not always.
Educating international students about why options outside of the most popular fields of study and cities can be just as exciting and remunerative as STEM studies is ever more urgent for many institutions that are struggling to hang on to a wide range of programmes. And here’s the thing: attracting students to alternate or niche programmes is well within the grasp of most institutions that work with experienced agents.
A couple of weeks back, we wrote about an agent survey we conducted that revealed that international students are currently more likely to prioritise working while studying than post-study work rights because they are increasingly pressed to find ways to afford their studies. That same survey – with top ICEF-vetted agents in Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam), South America (Brazil and Colombia), as well as Nigeria, Turkey, Mexico, and Iran – revealed that students are highly open to programme recommendations during counselling for study abroad.


At least half open to programme suggestions


In all but one of those countries, agents said that at least 50% of the students they worked with are interested in hearing agents talk to them about a variety of programmes. Agents emphasised the need for institutions to work closely with them to explain what programmes need students, why students should be interested, and what jobs the programmes can lead to. If a programme is less expensive, has internships attached to it, has strong industry input, and has scholarships available, these are incredibly important features that agents need to be able to communicate. Providing agents with a variable commission structure where they can receive slightly higher commissions for referrals into niche programmes than other programmes can also yield impressive results.


Don’t forget parents


Another question we asked agents was the extent to which parents are involved in the study abroad decision-making process. To no one’s surprise, parents make the decisions about the secondary school and summer course programme choices of junior students. But parents are often involved in the choices their university-age children make as well – a majority of agents said that parents are key players in decisions, particularly when students are self-funded.
Parents may be less aware than students are about emerging fields of study that lead to good careers – studies that could well give their children a strong chance of being accepted for permanent residency in a destination country because of labour market needs. Most parents of international students have known for years about the most popular study fields of study – i.e., business and STEM – and may be less likely to think that alternate courses could also have a high return on investment.
Again, here is where local agents – who speak parents’ first language – can play a crucial role, but only if they are provided with current, accurate information about why a programme they would not ordinarily have considered is a good option for their children.


ICEF Monitor

US Plans Record Visas for Indian Students This Year - 10 August 2022

According to the US Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina, the United States is looking forward to another record-breaking year as they hoped to surpass their previous record of 62,000 issuance of visas to Indian students. This statement was in light of the Student Visa Day, which celebrates the higher education links between the United States and India.


The Tribune

Canada: Quebec Shuts Down Immigration Pathway for Graduates of Unsubsidized Private Colleges - 10 August 2022

Quebec’s Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity and the federal ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new limitation on eligibility for post-graduation work permits. Under this new provision, only graduates of publicly subsidized institutions, including universities as well as both public and private colleges, will be able to get a work permit. This means, in effect, that graduates of unsubsidized private colleges will no longer be eligible to work in Canada after their studies. The new measure comes into effect on 1 September 2023.


ICEF Monitor

UK Delegation in India Discussing Prospects in Transnational Education - 10 August 2022

The British Council, the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, is hosting a delegation of senior UK university leaders to India. The delegation will meet Indian central and state government officials, policymakers, and senior university leaders from 10 Indian states, in the national capital, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata to discuss partnerships and collaborations that meet the NEP’s vision of internationalization of Indian higher education institutions via promoting transnational education (TNE) and greater two-way student and faculty mobility.


UGC Chairman Meets Deputy Australian High Commissioner To Discuss Higher-Education Collaboration - 10 August 2022

University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar met Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Sarah Storey, along with her colleagues to deliberate on a partnership between Indian and Australian universities, as informed by officials. The officials added that both sides exchanged views to promote effective collaboration between India and Australia in light of education being recognized as one of the priority sections for cooperation by both Indian and Australian leadership.


India Today

Italian Ministry Encourages Foreign Students To Avail Scholarship Program - 10 August 2022

Indian students who wish to pursue their higher education in Italy are being offered a grant for the academic year 2022-23 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI). The applications for this grant are open for the students on the official website: studyinitaly.esteri.it. The deadline for this grant is on June 9, at 2 pm (Central European Time).


Stydy In Italy

US Plans Record Visas for Indian Students This Year - 10 June 2022

According to the US Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina, the United States is looking forward to another record-breaking year as they hoped to surpass their previous record of 62,000 issuance of visas to Indian students. This statement was in light of the Student Visa Day, which celebrates the higher education links between the United States and India.


The Tribune

Canada: Quebec Shuts Down Immigration Pathway for Graduates of Unsubsidized Private Colleges - 10 June 2022

Quebec’s Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity and the federal ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new limitation on eligibility for post-graduation work permits. Under this new provision, only graduates of publicly subsidized institutions, including universities as well as both public and private colleges, will be able to get a work permit. This means, in effect, that graduates of unsubsidized private colleges will no longer be eligible to work in Canada after their studies. The new measure comes into effect on 1 September 2023.


ICEF Monitor.

UGC Chairman Meets Deputy Australian High Commissioner To Discuss Higher-Education Collaboration - 10 June 2022

University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar met Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, Sarah Storey, along with her colleagues to deliberate on a partnership between Indian and Australian universities, as informed by officials. The officials added that both sides exchanged views to promote effective collaboration between India and Australia in light of education being recognized as one of the priority sections for cooperation by both Indian and Australian leadership.


India Today

Italian Ministry Encourages Foreign Students To Avail Scholarship Program - 10 June 2022

Indian students who wish to pursue their higher education in Italy are being offered a grant for the academic year 2022-23 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI). The applications for this grant are open for the students on the official website: studyinitaly.esteri.it. The deadline for this grant is on June 9, at 2 pm (Central European Time).


Free Press Journal

As Per ICEF Survey Online degrees gaining new prominence because of the pandemic - 18May 2022

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

1. Demand for online degrees picked up steam during the pandemic and is on an upwards trajectory

2. One reason more students are enrolling in online degrees is that employers are much more likely to think highly of these degrees than they were a few years ago

3. Institutions that can offer online degrees as well as in-person study abroad experiences to international students have tremendous opportunities going forward

4. Last year, US educators enrolled more students in online MBAs than in MBAs delivered in person, a development linked to pandemic realities but also to the increasing acceptance of online degrees from employers.

5. Elsewhere in the world, the ascent of online MBAs is slower to take shape, but there is still massive uptake of these digital degrees: 53,280 students compared with 78,060 for traditional MBAs.

Northumbria’s rise in the rankings - 15 May 2022

Following the release of the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) earlier today, I am writing to share news of Northumbria’s rise in the rankings. The REF provides a unique analysis of research across UK universities. It shows where research stands in terms of quality and output on the domestic and global stage, presents the real impact research has on our society, and highlights the real-world benefits it brings. Northumbria has recorded the biggest rise in research power ranking of any UK university, to 23rd, having previously risen to 50th in 2014 from 80th in 2008, making Northumbria the sector’s largest riser in research power ranking for the second time. These results consolidate Northumbria's position as a research-intensive modern university.

The number of Northumbria researchers assessed as producing world-leading and internationally excellent research has jumped from 56 in 2008, to 207 in 2014 and 840 today. At the same time, the quality and impact of research at Northumbria have risen significantly. Our research is ranked in the top 10 for research power in seven; top ten in 20 and top 26 in all thirteen areas in which it entered the REF.

Our success is the result of a profound transformation over the last 15 years, combining research with existing areas of strength in relationships with business, skills, enterprise and innovation.