Dean Hoke is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Edu Alliance Group and, in July 2023, will be President and CEO of the American Association of University Administrators. Dean has decades of progressively responsible and visionary leadership roles in higher education, communications & online learning. He has led numerous initiatives that have created innovation & positive change in the higher education & non-profit sector. Dean is a member of the Franklin University School of Education Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of Higher Education Digest.
Dean began his career in 1975 with Bellarmine University, working in various roles, including Admissions and External Relations. In 1983 he entered the broadcasting field, serving as a senior executive for Public Broadcasting System. In 1998 he co-founded The Connected Learning Network, a full-service online learning company, and in 2009 moved to the United Arab Emirates, serving in senior positions at Higher Colleges of Technology & Khalifa University before co-founding Edu Alliance in 2014. Hoke participates in numerous consulting projects in the fields of international education, branding, business intelligence, and online learning. He is an active speaker and writer in the field of international higher education and distance learning. Dean has presented and written on the field of leadership, higher education, and distance learning throughout the world. Hoke has a B.A. from Urbana University, an M.S. from the University of Louisville, and a Certificate in Executive Management from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Dean resides in Bloomington, Indiana.
After a significant reduction in international students studying in the US, colleges, and universities are finally returning to their pre-covid levels. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) February 2023 reports 1,118,417 international students are enrolled in educational facilities in the US. Of those 1.12 million, 995,151 are enrolled in either Associate, Bachelor, Master, or Ph.D. programs.
While this is encouraging, the competition to recruit students has intensified. It is not only US schools that are recruiting with renewed vigor. It’s also universities outside the US, with the support of their home countries, recruiting international students. Nations such as Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Russia, Australia, Canada, Europe, and others see international students as desirable to recruit and offer work visas upon graduation.
Why are American Universities the leading destination for international students?
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that 5.6 million students are enrolled in higher education institutions outside their home country. They also project that, with demographic changes, the international student population is likely to reach eight million by 2025. Today, America is the market leader, with approximately 18% of all international students.
A study in 2021 by the Global Alliance for International Student Advancement (GAISA) surveyed 134 international students attending US universities, of which 70% were undergraduate students & 30% were graduate students. They were asked the following question:
Prior to enrolling, which of the following factors most motivated you to pursue your education in the United States? Please select up to 3 options.
What Type of Institutions Enroll International Students?
Many US colleges and universities look at the growing number of students worldwide and see this as supplementing the declining numbers of traditional US students going from high school to college. The competition in the United States to attract international students is intense, with 6,310 F1-certified post-secondary institutions eligible to accept international students.
The data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (IPEDS) shows that during 2020-21 international students attend the following types of US institutions:
Furthermore, according to SEVIS, in reporting 2021 enrollment data, nearly 90% of international students are enrolled in just 500 schools. Of the 500, the top 25 schools have almost 300,000 students (about 30%) of degree-enrolled international students.
How do international students pay for college?
The cost of higher education in the United States public and private institutions is expensive compared to other countries. The US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand public universities charge twice the amount in what they charge in-state or national students. In 2023 average tuition for international students ranges from $28,000 for state schools to $38,000 for private schools. It costs $15,000 to $20,000 for other expenses, such as housing, food, books, and additional day-to-day costs. The annual Institute of International Education (IIE) report on international students attending US higher education institutions presents how these students pay for their education.
What Majors Are Most Popular?
The GAISA study and other surveys show that the academic quality of the institution and the majors offered are crucial decision points. The vast majority of international students in undergraduate and graduate programs have a specific major or discipline in mind. They traditionally focus on their future job opportunities once they complete their education, whether they return home or stay in the United States.
STEMS majors are continuing to grow rapidly, according to SEVIS. In their February 2023 report, over 25% of the international students are in STEMS majors.
Ten ways your institution can increase its international enrollment.
There are several standard recruitment and marketing strategies most if not all, universities use. Examples are advertising on social media—particular websites, college fairs, etc. The ten points below are other items you should consider.
- Have members of your senior administration visited countries your institution is targeting? Have they met private and public high schools and toured universities in those countries to develop potential partnerships and joint support? Have you visited with your alums in the region, spoken at a conference in a targeted country, or visited federal or regional officials? If this hasn’t occurred recently, the institution leadership has no vested interest in expanding opportunities in these nations. It’s one thing for a faculty member or an admission officer to say we should put more resources into our international recruiting efforts. Still, it’s a tough sell if the top leadership has not visited the area.
- Understand who you are and how you communicate it to the student. Too many schools try with international students to compete with elite schools or rank one institution.
- Present Your Specific Strengths. Everybody claims to have excellent faculty, a wonderful campus, and a charming community. Present specifics that exemplify your strengths. For example, My University has, 75% of its graduates who obtained advanced degrees. Do not state generalities when you present your school to the international community.
- Do you have a highly recognized degree or a niche program that can be targeted toward a small group of international students?
- If you have excellent graduation and employment rates for your international students, make sure it’s known.
- What is the percentage of your students who go to graduate school?
- The international community has growing concerns about safety and the wide availability of weapons in America. While you as an institution can do only so much, you can present the facts of the city and your campus on the safety issue. Most people believe the campus will be safe but are much less confident if the surrounding area is. International students and their families need to be confident that their children will live in a safe environment. They want to live and experience the region, not be fearful, and stay on campus.
- Who are your alums, both in the US and internationally? What are they doing after graduation? Can they serve as Ambassadors?
- Do you offer competitive financial aid/scholarship support for international students?
- Do you have support from your hometown location? Has the mayor/city manager, the Chamber of Commerce, actively supported your efforts by going on an international trip?