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Round-up on the Global Competition to Watch

While the UK has been caught up with Brexit, governments and higher education sectors around the world have demonstrated increasing commitment to international enrolment. There’s been a lot of news across the past year outlining countries’ growth ambitions and early achievements. In case you’ve lost track, we’ve compiled the highlights here.

The newer players

In its recently published international education strategy, Ireland shared plans to increase international enrolment in its higher education institutions by 33% come 2020. To position its universities for success, the government has committed to increase higher education funding, invest in brand campaign ‘Education in Ireland’, and plans to adjust its 12-month post-study work visa.

New Zealand
New Zealand saw a 13% YOY increase in international enrolment in 2015, which was the second consecutive year of double-digit growth. While they seem to be on a roll now following declines from 2011-2013, there are some concerns about diversifying the population of international students coming to the country as their success is heavily driven by students from India, the Philippines and China. In the meantime, if you’re seeking to attract more students from these regions, it’s worth keeping an eye on New Zealand.

Established players upping their game

United States
The US remains the top host for international students and it’s not resting on its laurels. In fact, it experienced the greatest YOY growth in international enrolment in 35 years during the academic year 2014/2015.  

Facing a decrease in the overall number of American high school graduates in the next 10 years and tighter financial constraints, American colleges and universities are amplifying their international recruitment efforts.

In a survey managed by The Chronicle of Higher Education, over 50% of US enrolment managers stressed the importance of developing new international markets and 70% of admission officers from America’s research universities deemed international recruitment more important than domestic recruitment. 

Similar to the US, local demographic changes are motivating Canada to make big gains in international enrolment. Canada projects that by 2030, close to 25% of Canadians will be over 65. They see increased international enrolment coupled with a streamlined route to citizenship as a solve for its population challenge. In 2014, the country announced plans to enrol 450k international students by 2022, which is double the numbers they had in 2011. As of the last reported enrolment figures (2014) Canada has reached 336k international students. 

On pace to achieve their goal, one hiccup that has Canada’s HE sector concerned is a change around study permits for international conditional offer holders. Before the change, students accepted to an HEI on the condition of completing another course had been issued a study permit for the duration of the prerequisite course and university. As of July, students need to apply for a second study permit once they’ve successfully fulfilled their academic condition. Institutions are worried the change could cause delays that interfere with students attending university in time for their desired intake and that it will put an additional cost burden on students. 

In May, Australia published its first international education strategy. The strategy outlines a 10-year plan to further Australia’s position as a leader in education and training. In its market development roadmap, informed by Deloitte Access Economics’ forecasts and models, Australia anticipates a 45% increase in international enrolment by 2025.

Key to their growth strategy is a focus in transnational education, which they expect will make Australia more competitive as flexible learning environments become more important to students. Australia aims to claim 10% share of the education export market by 2025.

In its international education strategy release ‘Guidelines on Works in Opening Up the Education Sector in the New Era’, China shared plans to bolster its image as an attractive study destination, improve quality of its international education provision and secure partnerships with foreign institutions. The strategy emphasises promoting the ‘Study in China’ brand to gain more international students.


With countries around the globe doubling down on international enrolment as the British HE sector encounters less than ideal policy shifts, now is the time to streamline and hone your international recruitment effort. To discuss how you can become more competitive in a more crowded market, contact us.

Have we missed someone? Let us know if there is a sector you think we should add to the list.