|“There are many trends affecting international student recruitment. I will focus on three: first, the worldwide economic tsunami that will impact student mobility, the technology tsunami that is affecting higher education and one of the future “hotspots” for international recruitment Africa.
Let’s examine the first trend: the worldwide economic tsunami. The world’s economy has entered a major downturn with high unemployment and financial constraints affecting higher education programmes in Europe, Asia and the United States. This is not a single year situation, but one that will affect higher education financing and student mobility for years to come. Worldwide youth unemployment is estimated to be nearly 75 million. In Greece and Spain, more than half of all young people are out of work. Youth unemployment is also a problem for recent Chinese university graduates. In the United States, approximately 17 million graduates are unemployed.
The second future international student recruitment trend is the worldwide technological tsunami and the impact that will have on higher education delivery methods. Salmon Khan, the 35 year old hedge-fund manager, turned YouTube professor to millions of students around the world, is defining the role of teachers in the classroom and the concept of homework. As of July, 2012, 600 million exercises were completed (more than two million per day). 15,000 classrooms utilise the Khan Academy in some form in 234 countries.
Anont Ararival, a MIT professor, is pioneering efforts to make online education a viable alternative for hundreds of millions of prospective students worldwide. Dr. Agarival, in collaboration with colleagues from Harvard, is proposing to multiply the on-line student audience by offering free (for now) non-credit (for-now) courses online to a worldwide student audience.
Coursera is a year old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists. Coursera offers more than 100 free (for now) online courses that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally.
The third trend suggests that in the not-so-distant future Africa will become a new international student “hotspot.” There are many reasons for this. Six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa. Africa’s vast oil and mineral reserves will be a pipeline to investments in infrastructure, health and education. Online Africa is developing faster than off-line Africa. According to an article in the May 12 issue of The Economist, undersea cables reaching Africa on the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts, plus innovative mobile phone providers, have raised Internet speeds and slashed prices. This connectivity is making Africa faster and more transparent in almost everything it does.
Google is the single biggest private sector influence in Africa. Its Internet search and email services are transforming Africa. The company is also trying to help African governments digitise information and make it freely available and is improving translation software to bring more Africans who speak only one language online. Other global companies are expanding in Africa. Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those of China in the early 1990s.”