The Next Big Thing in International Education Is…

According to the London-based investment bank IBIS Capital, the global education market is now worth $4.4 trillion. And the latest numbers from OECD suggest that approximately 4.3 million students are now studying outside their home country. What does this mean for international education and how will it affect our work?

In April, I challenged the international education community to help us identify the next big thing in international education. In my April blog post, I wondered whether MOOCs or social media would revolutionize international education; whether the concept of the Global Network University (as articulated by New York University) would define what an internationally-engaged higher education institution of the future looks like; what role higher education would play in international development; and what global student mobility patterns might look like in the future.

As expected, we received many excellent ideas and predictions from practitioners and thought leaders such as John Sexton (NYU), Jane Knight (University of Toronto), Darla Deardorff (AIEA), William Brustein (The Ohio State University), Susan Buck Sutton (Bryn Mawr College), and IIE’s own Rajika Bhandari and Raisa Belyavina. You can read their articles in the Fall 2013 edition of IIENetworker, which was just published and is available as a free flipbook.

The authors of the 15 articles in this issue of IIENetworker provide some truly thought-provoking ideas. The most interesting part, for me at least, was that their predictions for the next big thing are not necessarily futuristic new technologies, but rather revolve around the way we conduct our core business of engaging globally: integrated stakeholder engagement; global research collaboration; developing a global option for the curriculum; designing a truly global university.

The magazine’s cover is—in a sense—a guide to the next big thing.

Each of the words included in the cover ‘wordle’ is taken from one of the articles: Edu-Glomerates, TOQUES, Global Research, Global Youth Engagement Platform, public-private partnerships, and transformational alliances, just to name a few. And thank you to the authors for coining a few new international education terms!

Here are the top 5 predictions for the next big thing:

  1. Megatrends: The British Council’s Elizabeth Shepherd writes: “The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies describes Megatrends as great forces in societal development that will affect all areas of general human growth and progress in years to come. These long term driving forces, or Megatrends, have great importance now and there is confidence they will have great importance in the future.” Shepherd identifies the following 7 megatrends that will affect the international education industry: Demographic shifts; economic dynamics; changes to political conditions; growth in education provision; digital technology; global workforce demands/ skills shortage/ talent mismatch; and cultural impact.
  2. Edu-Glomerates: Jane Knight from the University of Toronto writes: “A key development in cross border education has been the increase in ‘multi-national universities’ with branch campuses, research centers and networking/recruitment offices located in different parts of the world…But what will follow or emerge from the development of multi-national universities and education hubs –  Edu-glomerates?” According to Knight, “Edu-glomerates may sound like science fiction and a long way from today’s reality.” But, says Knight, “…Stay tuned!”
  3. Collaborative Internationalization: Susan Buck Sutton, Senior Advisor for International Initiatives at Bryn Mawr College, suggests “we add ‘collaborative internationalization’ or even ‘internationally collaborative internationalization’ to our arsenal of significant terms.” Sutton writes that collaborative internationalization is “not a new technology or technique, but a recasting of how we think about and enact internationalization, and a recognition that the recent growth in international academic partnerships was only the first step in what promises to be an on-going process of mutual growth and discovery.”
  4. TOQUES (rhymes with MOOCs): Leeanne Dunsmore and Matthew Meekins from American University write that “the innovations that will ultimately transform the field of international education will be those that retain and build upon the best aspects of brick-and-mortar campuses. Namely, an emphasis on high-quality teaching, a clear path to a recognized degree or credential, and a commitment to an engaging student experience in a global setting. They write that “this innovation is not a thing of the future – it is happening right now, in degree programs that combine an emphasis on teaching, intimate class sizes, and student interaction with cutting-edge technology and high-quality content. The strengths of such programs can be described via the acronym ‘TOQUES’ (rhymes with ‘MOOCs’)—Teaching Online Qualified Engaged Students. Instead of the massive, non-credentialed nature of the MOOCs trend, this new breed of degree programs emphasize what universities do exceptionally well – teach degree-seeking students through engaging and thoughtful faculty-student interactions in a truly diverse and global classroom.”
  5. Global Research and Commercialization: Downing Thomas, the Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs at the University of Iowa, sees research and commercialization opportunities as the “next big thing” in international education. According to Thomas, “Public-private partnerships, and private investments in research, pose specific challenges to the traditional research enterprise. Notably, such relationships come with significant risks that are not familiar to faculty who have been working directly with colleagues at similar institutions abroad. Universities and researchers will rightly seek to minimize these risks; and such efforts will take time. Where the risks are great, the potential rewards may also be significant, in the form of new revenue streams, access to resources (people, infrastructure, capacity), and institutional visibility.”

I invite you to explore the Fall 2013 edition of IIENetworker and hope you will share your ideas of the next “Next Big Thing.”