May 30, 2022 | International Payments

What will global student mobility look like post-pandemic? 4 key international recruitment strategies universities should consider

As we move beyond the Great Lockdown into the new normal, the challenge of attracting and engaging international students is no longer the same. COVID-19 disruption has forced universities to think outside the box and build a more diverse international student pipeline, but what will global student mobility look like in three years’ time and which markets should recruiters prioritise?

A new report developed by Western Union Business Solutions in partnership with Oxford Economics, highlights key student mobility trends from 2019 out to 2025, providing global forecasts and perspectives into the fastest growing student outbound ‘send’ and ‘receive’ markets, broken down by country.

79% of the growth in international students – from 2019 to 2025 – is expected to come from Asian countries like China, India, Vietnam, Nepal and Kazakhstan.

79% of the growth in international students – from 2019 to 2025 – is expected to come from Asian countries like China, India, Vietnam, Nepal and Kazakhstan.

4 key strategic considerations for higher education providers

Based on the report findings, we have outlined 4 key focus areas which can help benchmark your internationalisation strategy against rapidly changing market dynamics.

1. Diversify your student portfolio and target student growth hotspots

79% of the growth in international students – from 2019 to 2025 – is expected to come from Asian countries like China, India, Vietnam, Nepal and Kazakhstan. If you’re diversifying, talk to us about efficiently expanding your network of receivables and payables. Every region has unique currency, banking and payment infrastructures, whilst fraud prevention will also be critical.

2. Optimise the student experience and provide known and trusted payment options

In China for example, digital wallet provider Alipay has the highest mobile payment market share of 49%. WeChat Pay comes second with 41% market share*. Students or parents expect a choice of payment methods they trust. Talk to us about the latest enhancements to our WU® GlobalPay for Students payments platform – offering a wide range of reconcilable, trackable and refundable payment options.

3. Sustainability – lead the race to zero

At COP26, over 1,000 universities, from 68 different countries, with 10m students, pledged to cut their carbon emissions in half by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050. Sustainability is now a key strategic priority for global institutions. Talk to us about our partnership with Gold Standard, offering you the opportunity to earn and report globally recognised carbon offset credits and certification.

4. Risk Management – Mitigate currency volatility

The EUR/GBP exchange rate fluctuated by 8.1% in 2021, with an average 9% annual shift over the last 5 years. The USD/CNY rate fluctuates by 7.4% annually** Currencies are highly sensitive to economic and geopolitical news, creating unexpected financial risk. Talk to us about how to effectively forecast your currency needs, hedge financial exposures, and control your international costs.

Western Union Business Solutions is trusted by over 800+ education institutions worldwide to manage their international payments across incoming, outgoing, student refunds, currency risk management and administration of state student funding.

If you are looking for world-class cross-border payments services, or counsel on your internationalisation strategy, please contact us below. We’ll be more than happy to talk about how we can help you manage your international transactions and optimise your student experience.


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*2021 Mobile Wallets Report - Boku
**Annual exchange rate fluctuation averaged over 5 years from 2017 to 2021, data source: Refinitiv