Center for Studies in Higher Education
THE GLOBAL COMPETITION FOR TALENT The Rapidly Changing Market for International Students and the Need for a Strategic Approach in the US
- Author(s): John Aubrey Douglass and Richard Edelstein
- et al.
There is growing evidence that students throughout the world no longer see the US as the primary place to study; that in some form this correlates with a rise in perceived quality and prestige in the EU and elsewhere; and further, that this may mean a continued decline in the US’s market share of international students. There clearly are a complex set of variables that will influence international education and global labor markets, including the current global economic recession. Ultimately, however, we think these factors will not alter the fundamental dynamics of the new global market, which include these facts: the international flow of talent, scientific or otherwise, is being fundamentally altered as nations invest more in educational attainment and human capital; the US will continue to lose some of its market share over time — the only question is how quickly and by how much; and without a proactive strategy, nations such as the US that are highly dependent on global in-migration of talented students and professionals are most vulnerable to downward access to global talent, with a potentially significant impact on future economic growth. This study provides data on past and recent global trends in international enrollment, and offers a set of policy recommendations for the US at the federal, state, and institutional level. This includes our recommendation of a national goal to double the number of international students in the US over the next decade to match numbers in a group of competitor nations, and requires recognition that the US will need to strategically expand its enrollment capacity and graduation rates to accommodate needed increases in the educational attainment rate of US citizens, and to welcome more international students. Attracting talent in a global market and increasing degree attainment rates of the domestic population are not mutually exclusive goals. Indeed, they will be the hallmarks of the most competitive economies.