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Recruiting Intelligence

Our Crystal Ball Reveals 2013 Trends: International Student Recruitment

The CollegeBoard provides valuable leading indicators for future trends of student enrollment around the world. With permission from CollegeBoard, we are able to share a few highlights of those future trends based on SAT takers from China and global traffic to the CollegeBoard website. China is a particularly interesting example to examine because of the volume of Chinese students seeking higher education outside the country and because Chinese students must travel outside of China just to take the exam. Unlike international students from other countries who have easier access to the SAT, Chinese students taking the exam are extremely likely to follow through and enroll. They are highly motivated.

Let's start with a few highlights on SAT and AP trends from China:

  • Chinese students taking the SAT outside of China increased by 48 percent from 2011-2012.
  • 60 percent of exam takers come from four primary provinces: Beijing, Jinagsu, Guandong and Shanghai
  • 6 secondary regions show the fastest growth in the number of test takers: Jiangxi, Hainan, Henan, Sichuan, Hunan and Chongqing

Pay attention to that third bullet above. These regions are large secondary markets that are getting far less attention from US institutions. There is far less competition for students there because it is just a bit harder to travel to these areas.

Graph 1 below shows additional trends. The left-hand chart shows that scores sent to non-US universities are growing rapidly, led by Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. While the US remains the most popular study destination, other countries are making tremendous efforts -- at both the governmental and university levels -- to attract international students. US universities are competing globally. Yet US visa policies and visa application processes are limiting US global competitiveness compared to other countries (US State Department subscribers to this Intead Insight take note).

The right-hand chart in graph 1 shows the top score-receiving universities in the US, led by the Big Ten schools. On one hand, this large number seems to be a reflection of the brand appeals of these universities, on the other hand, submissions do not reflect enrollment, just interest. The schools appear to be the "safety" school applications for students. These universities have the potential to leverage their world-wide brand recognition to attract more highly-qualified tuition paying international students.

Graph 1

Source: Internal College Board Analysis

Graph 2 is highlighting the global web traffic to CollegeBoard's website with significant increases from India and China. An international student visit to collegeboard.org is not as strong an indicator as taking an exam, however, we believe this student activity represents a solid trend indicator for our recruitment strategy and planning. We know from the IIE open doors data that Indian student inflow has been flat to declining in the past years. This increase in web traffic confirms the rising interest in US education from India. We have to consider what universities can do to convert this interest into actual increased enrollment in our academic institutions.

Graph 2

Source: Internal College Board Analysis
Topics: Insights