The Future of Education: A Poll

Competing With Foreign Schools

When asked which countries would be most likely lure students away from American institutions, respondents selected and ranked an average of four countries. China dominated the list by any count, with Australia and India following.

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Almost all respondents, in their comments, confirm that China's higher education systems are growing quickly, but that much of the growth has been as a result of overall growth in China. The rapidly growing number of degrees conferred by Chinese schools is due to an increased likelihood that Chinese students will stay in their country for degree programs. However, as Chinese institutions become better equipped to handle their own students, they could begin to attract more foreign students.

China and India are also developing some wonderful universities. But the demands of their domestic students to attend universities will be tremendous. In the research I have seen, those "student markets" are growing extremely rapidly and I think the flow of students from China and India into the US will continue.

-- President of a private liberal arts college with 1,000 to 5,000 students

I believe American universities will continue to attract a number of students from Asia and Europe.  The greatest impact may come by answering the question of how many Chinese, Korean, and Indian students choose to stay at home.

--President of a public research university with 20,000+ students

At the same time, say respondents, no other country's education system can yet compete with America's in terms of quality, and our dominant position in the education sector is likely to remain intact. Respondents agree that the flow of students coming into this country for education will continue at a steady clip. They also acknowledge the beginnings of a slow shift, although no other countries are legitimate contenders yet.

The biggest factors in university attendance will be language, financing  and reputation of educational institution.  In short what do the international universities have to offer in reputation and support while speaking enough English to make it work, at least initially.

-- President of a public research university with 20,000+ students

Survey respondents also ranked the following countries: Switzerland (#3 and #7 by two respondents), Canada (#1 and #3 by two respondents), and Holland (#2).


One respondent noted that the greatest "threat" to this country's four-year schools will be non-traditional degrees programs: 

The biggest factors in university attendance will be language, financing  and reputation of educational institution.  In short what do the international universities have to offer in reputation and support while speaking enough English to make it work, at least initially.

-- President of a public research university with 20,000+ students

Survey respondents also ranked the following countries: Switzerland (#3 and #7 by two respondents), Canada (#1 and #3 by two respondents), and Holland (#2).

One respondent noted that the greatest "threat" to this country's four-year schools will be non-traditional degrees programs:

You leave out totally the growing on-line industry that has in essence  no borders (although there are some regulatory issues outstanding)--to include the for-profits. Right now these enterprises for the most part DO NOT engage the 17-22 year olds and are not particularly concerned about "prestige," but they might in the future if they can find a way to make money in this sector and they see a financial incentive in prestige.

-- President of a private liberal arts college with 1,000 to 5,000 students
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Emily Q. Hazzard is an associate editor at WaPo Labs. She was previously an associate producer for Al Jazeera's The Stream and an editorial project associate at The Atlantic.

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