By Zainab Malik

06 October 2014 - 16:58

'Universities depend on Indian and Chinese postgraduates.'
'Universities depend on Indian and Chinese postgraduates.' Image ©

Mat Wright

Universities increasingly depend on Chinese and Indian postgraduates, but what other markets are opening up? The British Council’s Zainab Malik, author of a new report about student mobility trends between now and 2024, says institutions and policy-makers need to attract students from other expanding economies.

It’s important for universities to recruit international postgraduates

The recruitment of talented international postgraduates has become a strategic priority for institutions and governments globally. Like undergraduates, postgraduates contribute to the internationalisation of the student experience. They also add to the productivity of a university and hold the promise of future collaboration in business and other matters. Moreover, postgraduates provide knowledge and sophisticated skills for research. In some cases, they also provide funds that allow programmes to operate. On a national level, the growth and advancement of economies depend on a highly competent workforce.

Universities depend on Indian and Chinese postgraduates

There’s a great deal we can learn from the detailed forecasts in the research, but perhaps the most striking finding was the sheer level of dependency certain destination markets have on incoming Chinese and Indian postgraduates, currently and through the next decade. In the US, for example, 54 per cent of international postgraduate growth between now and 2024 will come from India. Similarly, 44 per cent of the UK’s inbound postgraduate growth will come from China in this period. These projections are based on the sample of 23 countries of origin used in the research.

This forecast becomes more valuable when one realises that the number of Indians wanting to study at postgraduate level abroad is projected to grow at a significantly quicker rate over the next decade than the Chinese number. Largely due to this, the US inbound market (which is forecast to become overly reliant on Indian students) is projected to grow at a much faster pace than the UK market (which is dependent on the slowing Chinese market).

Institutions need to attract postgraduates from other expanding economies

Ideally, no single market should drive the growth and composition of a country’s incoming postgraduate body. As such, it is essential for institutions and policy-makers to continue to attract students from expanding economies besides China and India, including Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. By further diversifying the postgraduate student body, countries protect themselves from relying on one source of students. Greater diversity – and the internationalisation of research and student life which comes with it – also increases the positive influence of a truly global postgraduate student body.

The British Council’s latest report, Postgraduate student mobility trends to 2024, builds on projections from two previous reports, The shape of things to come: higher education global trends and emerging opportunities to 2020 and The future of the world’s mobile students to 2024. The research uses demographic and economic forecasts, combined with historic mobility and bilateral trade trends, to paint a picture of postgraduate student flows globally to 2024.

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