EAIE welcomes HE professionals from a wealth of nations

24 September, 2015

Scottish economic philosopher Adam Smith and his book Wealth of Nations provided inspiration for the 27th European Association for International Education (EAIE) annual conference in Glasgow, UK, last week. Celebrating EAIE members’ work in the field of international higher education, the event welcomed over 5,000 participants from more than 90 nations, proving its membership and reach extends well beyond Europe.

A wealth of nations was the theme of the 27th EAIE annual conference hosted in Glasgow, UK

Taking place in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on the banks of the River Clyde, participants were invited to expand their skill set through 21 interactive workshops and discover the very latest developments in the field of international education through 152 varied sessions. The event also featured a large exhibition with more than 220 exhibitors showcasing their products and services.

One of the scheduled sessions was an update of key trends in US higher education (HE), where leaders of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Institute of International Education (IIE) outlined challenges US institutions face in international development and recruitment. One key trend discussed was the growing number of international students in US high schools (49,000), a healthy source for its HE sector.

Other findings included falling Chinese student enrolments (down for the first time), which were compensated for by growing Indian student numbers (up 12 per cent on last year). With Chinese and Indian students such huge sources for the US HE sector, what is the recruitment plan for the future, asked an audience member. In essence: diversification, replied the panel. And with domestic enrolment growth stagnating, international student recruitment is more important than ever.

In another session entitled How students choose a study destination, and how you can influence that choice, Hobsons debuted some of the findings of its 2015 International Students Survey. The report called Value and the Modern International Student surveyed 45,543 prospective international students from 210 countries and 207 different nationalities. The report highlighted the growing importance of social media with 58 per cent of surveyed students using social media to contact an institution directly.

The Hobsons research also analysed the role of study travel agents in the UK HE sector and found that agent usage increased by 6.4 per cent in the two years from 2011/12 to 2013/14. Thirty five per cent of survey respondents considering studying in the UK planned to use a study travel agent during the enrolment process, with Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and India enjoying the highest agent usage.

Meanwhile, Joran van Aart from StudyPortals revealed that 21 per cent of the world’s 500 top-ranked universities didn’t reply to an initial email by a ‘prospective student’. Their Through Students Eyes report, produced in association with the British Council last year, found the “no reply rate” was highest in Asia, but that 25 per cent of Australian institutions did not reply to prospective students’ enquiries either. With a third of website hits coming from mobile devices, van Aart also urged institutions to check whether they have a mobile-friendly website or not.

Participants were given yet more digital tips in The rise of the selfie: leveraging digital trends in pop culture for marketing, and the session gave several examples of education brands that have embraced social media trends such as ‘the selfie’ and the Ice Bucket Challenge to build brand awareness and connect with younger audiences. Antony Lee of INTO University Partnerships noted exposure had gone beyond the student market with its agent partners utilising its YouTube videos that aimed to showcase INTO alumni.

An update on Russian higher education internationalisation was another interesting session. In May 2013, Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science announced an open contest for Russian universities looking for financial and governmental support. Out of 54 applicants 15 universities were selected, becoming part of Project 5-100 which aims to catapult Russia’s national higher education system onto the global stage. Many see the project as an opportunity to internationalise and develop across all spheres and several have already updated their brand image and introduced English websites in an incredibly short space of time. Panellist Olga Krylova of St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (which recently rebranded to Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University) noted they offer 45 degree programmes that are delivered in English. Initiating English-taught programmes allow Russian universities to have a much more harmonious distribution of students, she said.

Next year EAIE heads to Liverpool, UK, for its 28th annual conference from September 13-16. ICEF has confirmed this is where they are hosting their fair. EAIE dovetails the event but nothing has officially been said.

Nicola Hancox


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