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Trends in international higher education

International tertiary education is changing with breath taking speed, and higher education institutions face many challenges. For many providers recruiting overseas students to the home campus is no longer their main international strategy. In the UK, for example, a significant ‘tipping point’ has been reached where there are now more international students who are studying for a UK qualification abroad than there are international students on higher education courses in the UK. This trend may accelerate as stricter enforcement of immigration rules by the UK Border Agency prompt many international students to choose alternative routes to a quality degree without the need to physically study in the UK.

There are also signs that the traditional Global ‘South-North’ flow of international students is beginning to turn into an ‘East-West’ flow. Although today’s leading host countries (the U.S.A, UK, Germany, France, Australia and Canada) continue to exert strong attractions for international students, their market share has diminished and is likely to continue to do so. China and India in particular are investing heavily in higher education and education hubs in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore and consortium models in the Middle East such as Qatar are increasingly drawing ‘third nationals’ to study there. So the current trend seems to be an increasing number of mobile students who are likely to choose destinations in - or nearer to - their home countries, rather than the U.S.A and Western Europe, creating an ‘East-West’ and across some regions multi-directional flow of international students

Another important trend is the expansion of the private sector to become “demand absorbing” as traditional sources of public funding reduce and create niche offerings, enter new geographical locations, develop new delivery models and serve specific student populations. A major challenge for governments will be how to open up higher education to a more diverse range of providers without compromising quality standards, transparency and student outcomes.

In this competitive market place we are uniquely placed to help universities and other providers navigate the international waters.

Contact us

Glynne Stanfield, Partner (UK)

  • Head of UK Governance and External Relations practice and International Education practice
  • +44 207 919 0977
  • E-mail Glynne Stanfield

Diane Gilhooley, Partner (Middle East)

  • Global Head of Employment, Labor and Pensions, and Global Co-Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
  • +44 161 831 8151
  • E-mail Diane Gilhooley