Interesting Reads This Week

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

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Suddenly it’s late January and 2024 is taking shape, or at least reminding us that the ends of years are somewhat artificial features. A lot of the trends we see are continuations of what we were seeing in late 2023. Yet somehow many of these trends (enrollment, stasis, regulatory challenges, tough investment environment) are missing from the innumerable top trends in education lists, some of which read like blasts from the past, others more like wish lists.

The enrollment and international education two-step, and some emerging limits on dancing

Universities in Korea are facing an increasingly serious enrollment crisis brought on in large part by demographic shifts. Like the US, this crisis is hitting regional institutions hard. Also like the US, one of the ways that Korea is looking to fill the gap is by increasing the number of international students studying in the country. International student numbers in Korea were up by 10% in 2022, and most international students in Korea  come from China, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan. Korean officials are exploring ways to attract more foreign students by, for example, changing language requirements and easing work and visa restrictions.

Canada and the UK, on the other hand, seem to be determined to buck this trend and are working hard to limit international education. Canada is considering a cap on international education visas driven in part by concerns of availability of housing. Any future cap on student visas is likely to hit the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia first.

The UK also seems determined to limit international education (often referred to in the UK as transnational education, but we can’t call it that here lest it be banned in several states) despite the UK’s growing reliance on internation students as the chart below shows. Numbers are apparently down for this year in response, not just to policy changes such as limits on students bringing dependents with them, but also increasingly harsh rhetoric from the government, despite the Prime Minister having met his wife as an international student at Stanford.

Whether Korea will also expand online learning as part of this response to enrollment and whether that will be somewhere Canadian and British universities go in response to caps and declines will be interesting to watch.

We won’t see much change this year either

I have written before about Brian Rosenberg’s recent book Whatever It Is, I’m Against It: Resistance to Change in Higher Education. This week Alex Usher interviewed Brian on his podcast, and it is well worth a listen whether you have read the book (as I have) or have not (as is true for some of you slow pokes). Interviewing well is a tough task and a skill that many podcasters lack. But Alex does a great job of getting to the heart of the matter with his guests and in asking probing questions. 

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