Global Trends in Higher Education – Part 2

The increasingly shrinking world is impacting the education sector as well, especially international education. Today over 4.3 million students study outside their home country (according to recent OECD studies), expanding the scope of higher education to unforeseen proportions. What’s more, the London-based investment bank IBIS Capital pegs the global education market at $4.4 trillion.

With countries and individuals making huge investments in higher education, our collective future depends on what direction this sector will take. Naturally, experts are keeping a close watch on the global trends that are already making their presence felt.


As the name suggests, these are monumental changes that will affect societal growth for a long time to come. According to The British Council’s Elizabeth Shepherd, the seven Megatrends that will impact international education include:

  • Native cultures of students being brought to host country
  • Political disruptions affecting immigration policies
  • Changes in people’s overall health and lifestyle
  • Digital technology taking over traditional teaching tools and processes
  • Economic dynamics affecting international relations
  • Varying abilities of countries to accommodate international students in their systems
  • Pressures of the job market, skills shortage, and talent mismatch


According to Jane Knight from University of Toronto, the rise of multi-national universities has been a big factor in the spread of international education. These hubs or ‘edu-glomerates’ have branch campuses, research centers, and networking/recruitment offices located in different parts of the world. With their growing presence world-over, ‘edu-glomerates’ will possibly be the trendsetters in the education sector.

Collaborative Internationalization

Susan Buck Sutton, Senior Advisor for International Initiatives at Bryn Mawr College, suggests that collaborative internationalization will be a recasting of how we think of international education partnerships. It will involve countries encouraging, initiating, and nurturing ways to customize products and services to suit local needs.


Leeanne Dunsmore and Matthew Meekins from American University opine that for a truly world class education experience, Massive Open Online Courses MOOCs, although a great way to make courses more broad based and widely available, are not able to build on the best aspects of brick and mortar schools. To be truly effective, the education world needs Teaching Online Qualified Engaged Students — TOQUES, which will adapt and evolve from the best of traditional and digital education systems.

Global Research and Commercialization

Downing Thomas, the Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs at the University of Iowa says that public-private partnerships and private investment in research will help to tap into the potential in the field. Although the dynamics of this investment are unchartered territory for many academics, the likely rewards of the process make it worth exploring.

At August Network, we continue to keep a close eye on how these trends will fare in 2018. Watch this space for more.