Saturday, February 18, 2017

Best places to study for international students

Attracting international students involves high competition among higher education institutions world-wide. The mobility of students across national borders is an educational resource, builds international workforce capacity, and it's good business. Where students want to go and what they seek is the question.

One resource focused on helping students make their decision about where to study is Study International. Their ranking of urban centers that host elite higher education institutions placed Los Angeles (USA) and London (UK) at the top of the list, each with 4 of the 100 top universities. However, combining the number in the top 100 with highest ranking, Los Angeles edges London out. Study International broadened its analysis to the top 200 and 500 institutions to compare the concentration of elite institutions to overall population. The analysis concluded that most high quality higher education opportunities are in the eastern U.S. and central Europe. The global south had the least opportunity.

Another analysis, the Best Student Cities Index, awarded the #1 student city designation to Montreal (CA). The criteria used in this index included; university rankings, affordability, student mix, desirability, employer activity, and student view. Student surveys praised Montreal for being a "multicultural, inclusive, creative and student-centered environment, while also commending its comparatively low living costs." Student quotes from the survey indicated "the city lives with/for students," and has "diverse opportunities," "tolerant culture" and a "vibrant clash of North American and European values."

With the largest potential student populations coming from Asia both now and in the foreseeable future, the question of quality higher education opportunity in the region is key. Using the Best Student Cities Index, but in a separate article, a number of affluent Asian cities were identified to be most attractive including; Seoul (4), Tokyo (7), Hong Kong (11), Singapore (14), and Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe (17). While attractive, the cost of attendance and living expenses in these cities was a detractor. With talent development emerging as a central concern throughout the world, cities such as Hong and Singapore strive to be educational hubs that attract students from the region and around the world.

In this environment of intensified economic competition and talent development, how can cities and nations protect their present position and become even more viable? First of all, reaching a broad number of students has to be addressed and digital platforms are most effective in achieving this. Supporting higher education through governmental funding is certainly an important piece of maintaining a competitive edge. Increasing access and mobility is another key variable, one which Altbach and deWit warn is being challenged in the emerging nationalism that is gripping a number of western countries. If western countries withdraw from international partnerships and mutual benefit, giants like China and India may explore ways to exploit the west's isolationism.

The bottom line in talent and capacity building for cities and nations throughout the globe - this is not a time to retreat.

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