Readers flexed their forecasting muscles and shared the trends they think we’ll be talking about in international education in 2022. Thanks to everyone who shared their predictions, and apologies to those I couldn’t include. Comments are edited for space and clarity (but mostly space).
What will 2022 bring us? Slow incrementalism. There is no sudden switch to push that will bring things back to the Golden Age. We will have to have patience as a sector to adapt to whatever the new normal looks like in 2023, 2024, or 2025, but we won’t get there yet in 2022. We are still in a transition — we have not left the pandemic, even if it appears the endemic is on the horizon.
—Ryan Allen, Chapman University
Using technology to connect students, faculty, and administrators internationally and across institutions will become “normal.” With pandemic risks and restrictions continuing to oscillate unpredictably, we will embrace tools and communication norms that help us maintain meaningful relationships that are resilient to disruption, while also jettisoning the practices that exhausted us during lockdown. Backed up by more robust data and guides to good practice, virtual exchange, online conferences, and other methods will secure their place in the educator’s toolkit without replacing in-person exchange/mobility or gatherings.
—Henry Shepherd, Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute
The surge of online learning.
—Marina Meijer, PIE Academy
Growth of hybrid, dual-delivery programs, such as courses led online by professors on U.S. campuses and students in their home country with critical mass of peers who gather in person. Look for these to grow in cities like Shanghai, Mumbai, and others sending large numbers to U.S. but now under travel restrictions/complications. It may also become a model for programs to improve English and prepare students for academic life in the U.S. prior to departure, regardless of the pandemic.
—Samuel Robfogel, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
2022 is a year that calls for more creative collaborations and innovative ways to reach and recruit international students. As the pandemic altered the landscape of international education, traditional ways of recruitment such as virtual fairs may not be effective as more institutions globally need virtual connections. Surveys have shown that fatigue for virtual events among students and recruiters grew drastically during the pandemic. Additionally, travels to key international-student-sending countries such as China and India continue to remain inaccessible. How to reach international students effectively will be a challenge for international educators in 2022.
—Ruby Cheng, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Considering the challenges that will remain with new variants, U.S. HEIs will consider working with those already on the ground who may be able to connect with prospective students and parents face-to-face, such as education agents. The other emergence will be the rise of country-based representatives for U.S. HEIs, who would be regionally and locally based and thus would not run into the same challenges as those representatives based in the U.S. They will also be a cost-effective option for many HEIs who will see cuts in travel budgets.
—Raghvendra Singh, Northern Arizona University
The number of colleges in non-English speaking countries offering degree programs in English will continue to increase — increased competiion for U.S. colleges. Active support for international ed from the U.S government will be very slow in coming.
—Perry Akins, ITEP International
U.S. education’s attractiveness will continue to decline with family-funded international students. American policymakers and universities will finally agree that family-funded Chinese students are assets, not liabilities, and start to make a plan for the school year 2024-2025.
—Andrew Chen, WholeRen International
Enrollment management leaders will lean into internationalization efforts that offer extreme flexibility and rapid responses to fluctuating global markets rather than long-term commitments/investments. Long-term contracts for pathways and investments in academic partnerships that take years to establish will become less attractive. Optional Practical Training will survive current U.S. legislative proposals from those who simply do not get it. And IF somehow OPT takes a significant hit, U.S. international student recruitment numbers will decline dramatically until that gets fixed.
—Ben Waxman, Intead
Many universities are experiencing a budget shortfall and may have a hiring freeze. I predict there will be a lot of international departments severely understaffed with high expectations to recruit and retain international students as well as pressure to get domestic students abroad since there’s a lot of pent-up demand. However, I think the promising areas are institutions that are willing to take risks and reinvent themselves and their international programs. International education in 2022 will and should not be the same as it was in 2019. We’ve learned a lot about what can be done with virtual and hybrid opportunities and I hope it will become more accessible for ALL students.
—Caroline Ideus, University of Tennessee at Martin
I don’t so much have a prediction as a grave concern regarding mental health. Many colleagues have shared their struggles regarding Covid’s impacts on their personal and professional identity. Internationalists are drawn to the diverse sensory stimulation brought on by meeting new people and going to new places. We are starved for the stimulation that gives so much meaning to our lives – without it, who are we? What is our mission? What else gives us as much pleasure and purpose? I see increasing numbers of younger and mid-career international-education professionals pivoting to private-sector jobs in search of answers. As it becomes increasingly obvious that Covid will be with us for the long haul, I’m concerned that mental-health challenges will deepen in 2022.
—Stephanie Doscher, Florida International University
I think 2022 is the year of acceptance and progression – the year where we learn to steer the ship forward with what we’ve learned and see the education sector revive. I anticipate most of the big, meaningful change — whatever that means to each individual, university, organization, and everyone/everything in between — has happened. Those who have embraced it will be the ones to come out on top, and those who have ignored it or remained stagnant will have a very difficult time catching back up.
—Srikant Gopal, the TOEFL Program at ETS
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