Archives For United States

Education Volcano

In the year 1190 a man named Emo of Friesland enrolled at Oxford University and in the process became the world’s first recorded “international student”. You could argue that as a result of Emo’s pioneering actions, the international education industry was born…

Yet, for a true understanding of how the modern education industry began we must fast-forward 796 years to 1986. It was in this year that the Australian government, with the stroke of a pen, empowered universities to accept full fee paying international students with the option of paying commission to recruitment agents. This move immediately created a 2000% growth in international enrolments. An industry born overnight!

Today, the US is the largest exporter of international education with 764,000 students currently studying upon their shores. This represents 20% of the international education market vs. the 23% currently cornered by Australia, Canada and the UK. All things being equal, this sounds about right, based on population and the fact that the US hosts a great deal more colleges and universities than other countries.

However, things are not equal. Australia, Canada and the UK pay agent commissions to student recruitment professionals, whereas US based Universities & Colleges do not. In this respect the US is still yet to go through the change that Australia experienced in 1986.

This situation is a result of a ban by the NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counselling) the purpose of which being to ensure that the US export of education has largely developed organically, without the influence of offshore student recruitment agents. Hence, US institutions are subject to the following:

All members will not offer or accept any reward or remuneration from a secondary school, college, university, agency, or organization for placement or recruitment of students.”

For the uninitiated, recruitment agents drive a majority percentage of international student recruitment & placement in the UK, Canada and Australia. In fact 57.6% of international students studying in Australia are recruited via an agent, representing half a billion (probably more) in agent commission payments.

Now, imagine if the US education industry were to suddenly commence working with international student recruitment agents? The commission up for grabs would almost certainly hover somewhere around the billion dollar mark. Of the agents I know, large and small, it would be safe to say that most of them would want in and pronto!

So with NACAC currently looking at lifting this ban on US education commission payments, we must ask ourselves the following very important questions:

1)     Will the US explode as a destination, similar to Australia?

2)     Will agent guided students travelling to the US choose the same institutions, or will there be a redistribution?

3)     What will this mean for the industry as a whole, especially UK, Canada & Australia?

In order to help you answer the above questions you may want to consider this fact: International students represent around 22% of total higher education students in Australia… in the USA this figure is just 3.5%.



USA study abroad

The US may attract more international students than any other destination; however it also comes with one of the largest price tags. On average, students will fork out $28,000 per year on tuition alone, that’s before you even consider accommodation, food, books etc. Therefore don’t expect to see much change out of $150,000 for a 4 year US Degree!

To combat these high fees, students have often used Community Colleges to transfer to US Colleges & Universities. The strategy is simple, complete a 2 year Associate Degree at Community College and transfer to the college / university of your choice to complete the final 2 years and realise your degree.

On paper this sounds great, however the fundamental problem is that students are required to re-apply in order to gain 3rd year entry – therefore no guarantee of where (or if) they will complete their degree. For international students, the uncertainty attached to this study option has been extremely off putting; therefore it is not as popular as perhaps it could be.

Seattle Community College (SCC) is now seeking to change all of that by introducing an absolute game changer (in my opinion) by offering “transfer admission guarantees”. What this means is that when students apply and are offered a place at SCC, they will also receive a conditional offer to enter 3rd year at one of the following US Universities & Colleges:

California State University Northridge

Eastern Washington University

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School

Montana State University

San Francisco State University

Seattle University

State University of New York at Oneonta

University of Oregon

University of Washington

Washington State University

The only condition associated with this transfer is that students must complete the Associate Degree at SCC with the required transfer GPA. The GPA requirements range from a 2.0 for transfer to the lower ranked options, to 3.6 for John Hopkins University, one of the world’s top 20 Universities

So, I hear you ask; “How does the SCC option compare financially to the average cost of a 4 year University Degree?” Well, SCC quotes on their website total fees of $24,000 per annum vs. $43,000 for the average all inclusive cost of study at a US University / College. Therefore the total saving across your first 2 years of study will be in the region of $40,000! Meaning you can buy one of these.

From what I can see, the SCC transfer guarantee is entirely unique, however I cannot imagine it will be for long as other Community Colleges and Universities see its popularity. Especially as the drive for both diversity and full fee paying students rapidly increases at US institutions.