US higher education: More of a magnet than ever for international enrollment

Stock Higher Ed

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Thomas Friedman, author and columnist for The New York Times, introduced the idea that “the world is flat” (in his book of the same title). His concept remains valid today in more ways than one. The world, to be sure, continues to become more knitted together and inter-connected than at any time in human history.

Some credit for this flatter world, of course, belongs to technology. There’s no disputing the benefits Internet and cloud technology bring to nearly every corner of the globe, including the acceleration of advances in healthcare delivery and the growth of new economies in underserved populations.

Higher education: The land of opportunity

Another benefit of this dynamic is that more people than ever before have the opportunity to enroll in school, gain an education and develop the skills needed to pursue their desired careers. While it may be cliché, more education works. Active participation in formal education programming clearly gives people – whatever their backgrounds and wherever they live – the chance to develop brighter futures.

That’s true student success.

From my standpoint as a longtime professional in the field of higher education, one very interesting consequence of our smaller world is the soaring enrollment numbers of international students into U.S. colleges and universities.

In his book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, Freidman quotes Allan E. Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education:

“What makes America unique is not that it built MIT, or that its grads are generating economic growth and innovation, but that every state in the country has universities trying to do the same. America has 4,000 colleges and universities. The rest of the world combined has 7,768 institutions of higher education.”

Is your institution optimized to offer that opportunity?

Putting Goodman’s point in context, the Institute of International Education recently released a report showing the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities “had the highest rate of growth in 35 years, increasing by 10 percent to a record high of 974,926 students in the 2014/15 academic year.”

The United States “hosts more of the world’s 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, almost double the number hosted by the United Kingdom, the second leading host country,” according to the 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released last November.

With this in mind, my summary thought is that it’s more important than ever for U.S. colleges and universities to continue to ensure their operations, processes and departments run efficiently. They need to tap into easy-to-deploy technologies, including enterprise content management (ECM) software, to help them scale up to meet this new global demand for their education programs.

It may be the classic “good problem” that U.S. institutions are drawing so many students from around the world, but it is also the largest strategy-based problem we have in higher education. Now is the time to fully modernize your digital student record across campus so that you retain every student you draw into your campus and prepare them for the future.

That’s what I call a true land of opportunity.

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more... read more about: Laurel Stiller