The COVID-19 pandemic inspired the creation of new learning formats that transformed the landscape of international education.
According to the DAAD research, 45.2% of prospective students would now be interested in distance learning as an alternative to traditional classroom education.
Furthermore, more than 63% of European universities provide equal access to online learning tools and offline opportunities for their students. From the implementation of hybrid educational opportunities to the rise of tier 2-3 universities, the future of education is becoming more student-centric, digital, and personalized with an emphasis on community.
I’ve compiled a list of 5 educational trends that you may see in the near future.
US education is losing its dominance
The United States has long been the leader in international education, with more than 1 million international students studying or conducting research there. Every year, the US universities earn plenty of money thanks to the thousands of students seizing an opportunity to study in their dream country. However, COVID-19 has greatly impacted the international education market.
According to the Washington Post, the United States could see a 25 percent drop in international enrollment in 2021. American universities were unable to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 as rapidly as their European counterparts. In particular, they failed to reduce their tuition fees, and, as a result, lost a lot of students. The US universities didn’t take into account that in addition to world-class education at institutions such as Harvard, the students are also looking for networking opportunities and a vibrant campus atmosphere. As students lost the chance to immerse themselves in the foreign environment, expand their horizons, and gain valuable networking opportunities, the value of pursuing the dream of American education decreased.
Decreased interest in the US elite education - the rise of the European universities
During the pandemic, the students began losing interest in elite education. More than two-thirds of undergraduate students reported that they are eager to democratize their studying process and prefer the affordable options that would allow them to gain academic knowledge without financial stress. As they can’t live in Stanford dorms with living costs of 50 000 - 55 000 USD/year, they opt to receive a quality education at a good tier 2-3 university.
There is a significant growth of online learning opportunities. Research and Market forecasts that the Online Education Market will reach US$ 350 billion by 2025 thanks to the introduction of flexible learning technologies. Universities will need to emphasize hybrid programs (online + offline formats) that will combine useful content from other online platforms, the university brand that gives credibility, and the social experience that develops soft skills. The hybrid programs that were created out of necessity during the pandemic to counter the restrictions it engendered offer students new opportunities:
- Flexibility in the form of opportunity to attend lectures, seminars and consultations online.
- Student-centric approach with a more comfortable pace of work tailored to every student and opportunities to partake in a greater number of activities.
- Simplicity of communications with instructors and ability to receive quick feedback.
The students will also gain knowledge from online platforms that other companies can provide, while social experience will be provided by the university community. Every student can create a road map of their own educational journey using different tools.
Thus, on-campus activities combined with online education can become a perfect mix that will help students grow as efficient learners and confident leaders.
The rapidly growing numbers of African students in the international student community
In 2019, the largest populations of international students by nation of origin were Chinese and Indian. However, in the coming years, there will also be an increase in the number of African students looking for study abroad opportunities.
UNESCO Institute for Statistics indicates that the number of African students abroad has grown 26-fold – from just under 2,000 in 2003 to almost 80,000 in 2019. The African higher education sector has been “overburdened” by strong population growth and a youth population explosion. This has had a negative impact on the opportunities available to many enthusiastic and ambitious African students who cherish the dream of acquiring a quality university education. Education abroad may become the key to receiving cutting-edge knowledge.
To become globally competitive in teaching, educational institutions should become more student-centric. This means that their approach should be based on the students’ needs. Thus, international universities will emphasize personalized, engaging curricula, shifting the focus from the professor to the learner. Such an approach will help students accumulate the skills and abilities essential for their future career steps, like networking and professional teamwork.
EdTech companies and educational institutions that keep pace with these trends will be able to anticipate the coming changes and move forward towards growth and success.