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Will Economic Slowdown in India and China Impact Student Mobility to the US?

By Ajit Motwani, CEO of Education Business, Salwan Media |   26-09-2013

China and India have been among the key source countries for international students to many of the top ranked universities located in the education destination including US. This trend has continued for the last more than a decade.
The economic slowdown in world’s two most populous and fast growing nations that send largest number of students to study abroad is likely to adversely impact this trend of growing international/study abroad students.
Even for the top universities and the economies of these countries, the impact of any decline in the international students from China and India (194,029 and 100,270 respectively to US during the year 2010-11 as per IIE opendoors 2012) may not be easy to absorb both from view point of the financial contribution as well as availability of manpower in critical sectors including STEM fields. The economic contribution of the international students to US economy for the academic year 2011-12 was US$ 21.8 billion as reported by NAFSA.
To partly counter the adverse impact of slowdown in China and India, the Universities and the educational destinations need to innovatively position themselves. This could be through:

  • Offering part of the course curriculum/credits in home country online while students wait to travel abroad after completing their High School/ University degrees.
  • Provide better opportunity for on campus jobs as well as outside to support part of the cost for international students abroad.
  • Allow longer/ extended duration for OPT (optional practical training) after completion of academic degree.
  • Develop twinning arrangement/ partnerships with Universities in India and China to allow part of the credits earned at local campuses to be transferred to Institutions abroad.
  • Allow flexibility to take up significant credit courses during Summer Semester.

There are many more ways to innovate and ensure that the economic and talent impact is minimized. The choice of the measures adopted will depend on each University and Country.
It is hoped that this phase of economic slowdown in India and China will lead to the much needed innovation in Higher Education to make it more affordable and leverage the technology for the greater good.