U.S. Journal of Academics
June 2018 
Nepal: A tiny country
with the highest student growth rate

Guest post by Viktoria Kolesnikova of

Imagine a tiny country on top of the world, literally.

A mountainous kingdom with only one international airport and a few decent flight options. A place with such challenging terrain that when a student from a prominent capital school travels home for a break, no one is sure when she will be back to resume her studies. Her village, high in the mountains, may be suddenly cut off from the rest of the country due to extreme weather changes. A bustling capital city by day melts into the magic of dark nights, as most of the street lights and lamps do not work.

What picture is your mind painting now? Are you thinking: Why would I possibly consider recruiting in this place? What is the potential there?

Don't let any of that stop you! You will be one of the few institutions rewarded with a booming student market, unprecedented outward student mobility and the most brilliant students.

A Story of Phenomenal Growth

Nepal is the second highest country in the world (after Bhutan), with an average elevation of 3,265 meters. Eight of the world's 10 highest peaks located in Nepal are an excellent metaphor for the aspirations and dreams of Nepali students.

Did you know there was only one university operating in Nepal until 1986?

Even with ten accredited universities operating now, demand for higher education far surpasses supply.

And what a story of growth it has been! Nepal sends an astonishing number of students for higher education studies: around 44,255 Nepali studying abroad in 2017, according to UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), an impressive increase of 835 percent since 2000. Consider that the percentage of study abroad students out of the whole student population has almost doubled over the last decade. Nepal's student mobility ratio was 12.3 percent in 2016 – four times as high as Vietnam's, six times as high as China's and thirteen times as high as that of India's (WES).

Approximately 12,000 Nepali were studying in the United States in 2017, making Nepal the second-largest sending market in the region after India (IIE Open Doors Report). Even more impressive: This shows an increase of 20 percent from the previous year, the highest percentage change among the top 25 countries sending students to the U.S.

This spike in outward student mobility is predicted to continue, considering increase in the overall population, and growth of middle class and the youth population. The British Council estimates Nepal to be among the top 10 for growth in the 18-to-22-year-old age bracket for the next nine years.


Who are some of these students?

In the 1950s, education was reserved for the privileged few. Only five percent of the population was literate, less than one percent was enrolled in schools, and girls were discouraged from schooling (WES). It is incredible to witness a mind-blowing transformation in the Nepali students of today.

During several of our educational programs in Nepal, I had the privilege of working with Amrita, a prospective graduate student. Cruising effortlessly on her motorbike through chaotic streets of Kathmandu; a bubbly young woman full of energy, smiles and dreams. In addition to university studies, she was active in all sorts of things -- working part-time as a counselor in an education agency, setting up meetings with universities and increasing access to education for eager Nepali students. She was also a stewardess for a national airline, and I watched her leave for the airport with excitement about the upcoming flights in some of the most dangerous flying conditions. She insisted that the next time I come to Nepal, we must go on the famous mountain flight, where a fellow pilot would bring us excitingly and dangerously close to the peak of the Himalayas. That wasn't it. Amrita had a heart full of courage and purpose: She also ran her own clothing shop in Kathmandu, and was involved in non-profit activities helping children from underprivileged communities. She was 21 years old.

Where to find these students?

iDream Lab has curated a boutique collection of educational institutions in Nepal's student market. From local to world-class schools that are true gems, Nepal will astonish and amaze you: The first and only IB (International Baccalaureate) World School in the country started by a Belgian philanthropist; an institution established in 1966 under the auspices of the British Embassy and recently visited by J.K. Rowlings.

Everyone's favorite on iDream Lab's boutique tours is a fully residential English medium school offering national and Cambridge (A level) curriculum. Located at the foothills of a national park, the campus sits on 29 acres of breathtaking hillside panorama. Football fields, gyms, dormitories and class buildings are blending into splendid mountain views and forests. A government designated national school of Nepal, it's the most selective school in the country. Students are chosen from a wide range of socio-economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through a highly competitive entrance test.

The school attracts some of the wealthiest and the poorest students in Nepal, the latter supported by government merit scholarships. It has a unique philosophy, explains a former gymnast and now a guidance counselor:

We have students from all 75 districts studying and living together, rich and poor alike. As last names indicate castes and society status, all students are recognized only by their first names once admitted to encourage inclusion. They are not allowed to bring clothes, food, gadgets or jewelry to the school. Recent success stories include admission offers from Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, NYU and many other excellent universities.

Imagine a tiny country. And now imagine a massive opportunity to provide a meaningful educational experience, to play a role in transforming the dynamics of the region and the lives of brilliant students beyond anything they could have ever imagined.

Are you inspired to join this critical mission of delivering a transformative learning experience to students? You can make an impact in booming markets and connect with brilliant students during Knowledge Sessions, participate in boutique recruitment tours coming up in September 2018 in Nepal, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia. To learn more about redefining international student recruitment strategy and your institution's brand presence in Nepal and other Asian markets, join REDEFINE: Student Recruitment Forum on 8 September 2018 in Bali, Indonesia and gain insights from international education professionals and school counselors.

Contributed by Viktoria Kolesnikova, an international educator, global speaker and entrepreneur: MBA, MA, Certificate in University Teaching, Syracuse University (New York, USA); Faculty Affiliate; Co-Founder and Director of iDream Lab. iDream Lab is an international education organization from Silicon Valley, California, creating meaningful educational programs in more than 50 countries and empowering Ideas. Passions. Dreams. Knowledge is Power. Power up Your Dream.

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