Mexico - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-03-25

Capital:  Mexico City

Population:  130.2 million (July 2021 est.) 

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $2.306 trillion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Mexican Peso

Language:  Spanish and indigenous languages (various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages)

 

UNESCO Student Mobility Number


Mexico has 34,319 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

 

CIA World Factbook


42.98% of the population in Mexico is under 25 years old.

 

OVERVIEW

Mexico is the ninth leading country of origin for students studying in the United States.  In the 2020-2021 academic year, 12,986 Mexican students were enrolled in U.S. schools, primarily in undergraduate programs.  The five main destinations for Mexican students are Texas, California, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida.  Due to the strong commercial and cultural ties between both countries, Mexican families choose the U.S. as the main destination for education abroad programs.

 

Mexican Students in U.S. Colleges and Universities

2020-2021 Academic Year

Academic Level

Number of Students

Percentage

Undergraduate

7,303

56.2%

Graduate

3,788

29.2%

Other / Non-Degree

358

2.8%

Optional Practical Training

1,537

11.8%

Source: IIE Open Doors 2021

International student mobility is considered a priority for Mexican private education institutions, as it is a pillar of Mexico’s competitiveness in the global market.  Mexico and the U.S. have a strong collaboration in cultural and educational programs to support the development of students, faculty, and researchers. 

One of the most successful regional programs is the 100,000 Strong in the Americas (100K) Innovation Fund, launched in 2014.  This is the Western Hemisphere’s signature education initiative, which stimulates and supports institutional partnerships and student exchange and training opportunities through collaboration among regional governments, the private sector, foundations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and higher education institutions to strengthen regional education collaboration.  It also aims to increase student mobility and workforce development.  In seven years, Mexico has become the leading country in this hemispheric-wide education initiative in forming partnerships with U.S. colleges and universities and in implementing new models of student learning, exchanges, and training programs in both countries.  To date, 20 Mexican states and 27 U.S. states benefit from 100K Innovation Fund partnerships and programs.

Another key regional program, the Hemispheric University Consortium (HUC), was created in 2018 to facilitate collaboration in education and research in order to generate solutions to challenges in public health, climate change, and sustainability issues.  The University of Miami coordinates this unique consortium, comprised of 14 universities, developing solutions-based research and educational programs.  As part of the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education (FOBESII) initiatives for institutional collaboration, the U.S.-Mexico Program for the Internationalization of the Curricula, executed by the Mexican Association for International Education (AMPEI), supports faculty course development to provide Mexican and U.S. students with international virtual exchange experiences.  Launched in September 2020, registration for faculty to participate is open until fall 2022 at AMPEI’s website (https://ampei.org.mx/).

Opportunities for community colleges and boarding schools are increasing, particularly among Mexican students looking for educational opportunities at a younger age or those interested in two-year programs.  Mexico’s higher education system offers opportunities for U.S. community colleges to develop collaborative programs with technical universities in different regions in Mexico.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual collaboration between Mexican and international high schools has increased to provide students with virtual international experiences.

 

SUB-SECTORS

Higher Education:  During the 2020-2021 academic year, 12,986 Mexican students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions, representing a 9.5 percent decrease from the previous year, mainly due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.  Among the top fields of academic interest of Mexican students in U.S. institutions are the STEM fields, such as engineering, business administration, and social sciences, as well as fine and applied arts.

Mexican higher education institutions actively participate in regional education consortia to increase their knowledge and collaboration with other institutions in the same region and to develop mobility strategies to increase the exchange of students, faculty, and collaborative programs.

Undergraduate:  According to the latest IIE Open Doors 2021 statistics, 7,303 Mexican students enrolled in U.S. institutions for undergraduate programs.  Mexico and the United States have a strong relationship not only in trade, but bilateral academic collaboration has also strong linkages among U.S. and Mexican institutions.  The key factor for Mexican students looking for undergraduate academic programs abroad is an innovative curriculum that can help them develop strong multicultural skills to be competitive in the international market.

The job market in Mexico is diverse because of the dynamics of the country, but the fields most in demand are IT, cyber security, financial services, engineering, aerospace, health, digital media, and education.   

Community College:  Given the global competition in the manufacturing sector, training of skilled workers is becoming more significant in Mexico.  Opportunities for community colleges are increasing, particularly among Mexican students interested in two-year programs.  Mexico’s higher education system offers different options for U.S. community colleges to develop collaborative programs and increase academic mobility with technical universities that offer bilingual education in different regions in Mexico.  The most in-demand technical specializations are in the IT, engineering, aerospace, agribusiness, and tourism industries.

Graduate Education:  For graduate education, Mexican students are looking for programs that can provide them with the abilities to perform in the international arena, given that Mexico has a strong international business presence.  Mexican students are interested in fields such as aerospace, environmental studies, business, education, and IT, among other specialties.  Mexican students pursuing graduate education abroad seek for funding or scholarship support.  Therefore, it is recommended to develop relationships with granting organizations such as the U.S. -Mexico Binational Fulbright Program (Fulbright-Garcia-Robles), which is one of the largest in the world, sending about 100 grantees in each direction and receiving approximately $5 million annually in contributions from the governments of the United States and Mexico.  Since the establishment of the binational Fulbright Commission in 1990 with joint U.S. and Mexican funding, more than 3,500 students on both sides of the border have received Fulbright-Garcia-Robles scholarships.  

Secondary Education:  Given the strong ties with the United States, Mexican families seek academic opportunities in U.S. boarding schools mostly from grades 10 to 12, as well as short-term programs to increase English language skills.  It is important to mention that the main competitor in this segment is Canada, followed by the UK; therefore, it is highly important to develop relationships with local schools or educational partners to promote U.S. boarding school education opportunities.

Online Programs:  Online education gained importance in the last year, mainly for short-term programs or specialization programs (MOOCS).  Mexican students prefer hybrid or blended programs, where education can be done online, but an option for personal advisory at least once per month, since students still need personal contact with the instructor. 

Another trend in K-12 education is to partner with local schools to provide online complementary education and obtain a dual certificate.  This option provides students the possibility to pursue undergraduate studies in U.S. higher education institutions.

U.S. institutions must be aware of the new taxation of the digital economy in Mexico that came into effect on June 1, 2020.  Mexico incorporated a new chapter into its Value Added Tax (VAT) law, aimed at setting rules for the rendering of ‘digital services’ by foreign residents.  Under the new taxation regime, digital services – including distance learning – that are performed through digital content or applications via the Internet or any other network, which are fundamentally automated, are subject to specific VAT rules (16% tax) whenever the receiver of the service is in Mexico.

Research and Development:  In 2014, the U.S. and Mexican governments implemented a bilateral education project called the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII) to expand opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation.  Through FOBESII, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mexico`s National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT) have fostered high quality and industry-relevant collaboration among universities, research centers, and industry of both countries.  Besides FOBESII’s bilateral research collaboration, universities have continued their research project partnerships with industry players.

Professional Training Services:  Workforce and professional training are an important element to improving competitiveness in-country.  With an eye towards global competitiveness, employers and economic development organizations are interested in training opportunities for the Mexican workforce.  Employers in Mexico seek training to improve their business processes and effectiveness, innovate and strengthen their relationships with clients, and improve English language skills.  Customized training in information technologies, quality control, management, and language programs are in high demand.

With the implementation of the U.S. – Mexico – Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement, opportunities for community colleges to partner with local institutions and develop programs to upgrade workers’ skills and technical knowledge are arising. Collaboration between technical schools and the private sector will increase regional competitiveness.

Education Technology:  As part of the Mexican education model, technology plays a key role in providing learning tools to students and fostering interactive experiences.  The Mexican government, through the Secretariat of Education and private educational institutions, has been investing in equipment and technology solutions such as software, applications, and digital content to provide students a more participative experience.  The Covid-19 pandemic challenged the education sector, mainly at the K-12 level, as students had to shift from in-person classes to a virtual education model.  For the 2022 academic period, schools are expected to offer in-person, and in some cases hybrid, education models to support student development.  K-12 schools are investing in more IT equipment as well as faculty training to deliver hybrid education.

Higher education institutions in Mexico have moved to educational models that incorporate innovative digital and interactive classrooms, laboratories (robotics, language), and digital libraries as part of their strategies to improve teaching and student experience.  The implementation of virtual reality in the classroom has become a priority for the next few years.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

The key opportunities in Mexico are in three areas:   

  • Study in the U.S. at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and for non-degree programs and OPT.  This includes language training and practical training. 
  • Providing professional training services in Mexico represents a significant opportunity for U.S. education providers.  This can include partnerships with local education institutions or management companies.  Online training options are becoming more popular for language learning.
  • The education supplies and technologies sector offers strong opportunities for U.S. solutions providers, particularly in the areas of software, online learning, development of apps, classroom or field education tools, and distance learning services.

 

DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES

According to the latest statistics from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), there were about 92 million Internet users in Mexico in 2020, representing 71% of the Mexican population.  The main group that uses the Internet for most of their daily activities are 18-24-year-olds, followed by those ages 12–17.  Mexicans use the Internet for entertainment, search of information, and communication (social media).  Source: INEGI

Social media has become a powerful marketing tool to promote academic mobility.  In Mexico, digital platforms are fully integrated into the lives of students, not only for academic purposes, but social media is also the main place where students spend their time connecting with friends, searching information, and for entertainment.  About 100 million users in Mexico use social media.  That represents about 77% of the active Mexican population, from which, 98% access from mobile devices.  Mexican youth, mainly from 14-24 years of age are avid users of platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.  Facebook and LinkedIn are more popular with the 25–50-year-old population.

Facebook is the most used platform in Mexico with over 93 million users, representing 92% of the active population over 13 years of age; Instagram is the second most used with about 32 million users over 13 years of age.

 

RESOURCES

 

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACT

Martha Sánchez, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Mexico City, Mexico

Phone: +52 55 5080 2000, ext. 5225

Email: Martha.Sanchez@trade.gov