According to economist Nathan Grawe, the college-going population in the United States is projected to decline by approximately 15% from 2025 to 2029 due to a decrease in the number of births following the Great Recession. In response to this anticipated decline, BridgeU, an edtech platform, is urging US colleges and universities to shift their recruitment focus towards international K-12 students from international schools. BridgeU’s report, titled “Redefining Global Talent Pipelines: The Crucial Role of International School Graduates in Sustaining and Enriching U.S. Undergraduate Higher Education,” highlights the importance of international school graduates in sustaining US higher education institutions.
The report emphasizes that international students play a vital role in securing long-term tuition revenue for US institutions and filling talent gaps, particularly in STEM fields. It urges higher education institutions to develop strategies to attract and retain this diverse pool of applicants, recognizing their contribution to the future US labor market. Additionally, the report suggests that graduates from international schools could play a role in welcoming Chinese students to the US as China gradually reopens its borders.
Despite safety concerns raised by Chinese parents, the US remains a popular destination for Chinese students, with over 70% of BridgeU students in China considering US universities during the application process. However, the report highlights the importance of conversion, as the number of applications does not always translate to significant increases in actual enrollments. It also notes that international schools’ K-12 segment is expanding globally, driven by demand from middle and upper-middle-income families in emerging markets.
While the growth in international schools presents opportunities for US higher education institutions, the report emphasizes the competitive landscape, with the majority of international students considering institutions in multiple countries. The findings underscore the need for US institutions to differentiate themselves and effectively convert early interest into applications. Overall, BridgeU’s report stresses the significance of international school graduates in sustaining and enriching US undergraduate higher education amid the projected decline in the college-going population.