The future looks very bleak for many small and medium-sized colleges and universities in the U.S. According to a report published in Inside Higher Education, the high school graduation rate is expected to drop over the next seven years, and the numbers are aggravated by up to 4.5 million fewer babies being born since the financial crisis of 2008.
U.S. colleges and universities can no longer meet their operational budgets and can finance expansion only by continuing to increase tuition, which is not sustainable. Furthermore, colleges and universities have poured millions of dollars into marketing and advertising in the past 15 years, which has fueled massive competition to attract domestic students; these initiatives have resulted in stiff competition for market share in different regions of the country. Adding insult to injury, Clayton Christensen, the Harvard guru on disruptive innovation, predicts that 50% of American colleges and universities will close within the next 10 years. Amid all the gloom and doom, though, there is one strategic opportunity for small to medium-sized universities: incorporating carefully designed international student recruitment into the overall recruitment plan for the next five to seven years.