Capturing a global student market for colleges and universities
Coco, Lindsay Bridges
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Globalization has undeniably affected the fabric of higher education systems worldwide. In particular, globalization has greatly impacted higher education markets and access for students, as there are now 4.5 million globally mobile students studying worldwide (Institute of International Education, 2014). In the age of academic capitalism, institutions of higher education exhibit increased market and market-like behaviors in order to secure external revenue streams; during this process, the boundaries among states, institutions, and industry are blurred (Slaughter & Leslie, 1997; Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004). American colleges and universities have progressively emphasized international student enrollment in order to capitalize on securing new external revenue streams, advancing campus diversity, developing cross-cultural learning environments, and more. The global commercialization of student mobility has given rise to private third party agents—individuals who are paid to assist students with finding, applying to, and selecting institutions at which to study abroad (Hagedorn & Zhang, 2010). Some countries, such as Great Britain and Australia have embraced agents and formed regulatory frameworks to guide the industry; yet, this has not been the case in the United States. There has been scant scholarship about how American colleges and universities decide to utilize private third party agents as an international recruitment strategy and what impact this practice has on institutions and international students. This qualitative case study of four U.S. higher education institutions employs and examines data from 31 interviews, as well as in-depth document analysis and observational data. Findings indicate that institutions use these agents because they are able to assist institutions in capturing previously unreachable markets and that this strategy utilization impacts managerial capacity, financial operations, and campus diversity.