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: 2021-01-15

Capital:  Mexico City
Population:  128,649,565 (July 2020 est.)
GDP:  $2,156,946,000,000 (2019 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency:  Mexican Peso
Language:  Spanish and indigenous languages (various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages)

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Mexico has 34,196 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:
42% of the population in Mexico is under 24 years old. 

OVERVIEW

Mexico is the tenth largest country of origin for students studying in the United States.  In the 2019-2020 academic year, 14,348 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.  Mexican students often choose to study in the United States due to the prestige of the American higher education system, a well as the strong ties and proximity between the countries. 

Mexican Students in U.S. Colleges and Universities

2019-2020 Academic Year

Academic Level

Number of Students

Percentage

Undergraduate

7,993

55%

Graduate

3,817

26.6%

Other / Non-Degree

813

5.7%

Optional Practical Training

1,725

12%

Source­: IIE Open Doors 2020

Mexican private education institutions have prioritized international education, fostering student mobility and academic exchanges with institutions abroad, to become more competitive in the international market.  A successful program is the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, a public-private sector collaboration to increase academic exchange and student mobility, including opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds or historically underserved populations.  Since 2014, the Innovation Fund has awarded 232 grants to teams of 477 higher education institutions in 25 countries and 49 U.S. states.  Mexico is the leading country in this hemispheric-wide initiative to partner with U.S. universities, colleges, and community colleges.  To date, a total of 60 Innovation Fund grant-winning teams between HEIs in both countries are working across nine Mexican states and 24 U.S. states to provide academic training to underserved students to gain technical skills and prepare for the workforce in areas such as public health, STEM, sustainable agriculture, technology, business development, education, and others.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is impacting student mobility making higher education institutions to change their dynamics implementing virtual recruitment strategies and more online collaboration with local institutions, developing Virtual Exchange programs or Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) interactions.  An example of bilateral virtual collaboration, the Mexican Association for International Education (AMPEI) with the support of Banco Santander and the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education (FOBESSI) have launched the Program for the Internationalization of the Curricula United States – Mexico – PIC US-MEX, with the objective to contribute to the internationalization of the Curricula of Higher Education Institutions in both countries.

Sub-Sectors

Higher Education

In the 2019-2020 academic year, 14,348 Mexican students enrolled in U.S. universities, showing a 5.8 decrease from previous years.  Among the top fields of academic interest of Mexican students in U.S. institutions are in the STEM fields such as engineering, due to the demand of the industry, 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 2020 statistics, 7,993 Mexican students enrolled in U.S. institutions for undergraduate programs.  Mexico and the United States have a strong relationship not only in trade, bilateral academic collaboration has also strong linkages among U.S. and Mexican institutions.  The key factors for students looking for undergraduate academic programs abroad are innovative curricula 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 that show more 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 demanded technical specializations are in the IT, engineering, aerospace, agrobusiness, and tourism industries.

The National School for Technical Professional Education (CONALEP) is a vocational studies institution and the largest technical education system in country. CONALEP internationalization activities include dual programs with international schools and collaboration with multinational companies.

Graduate Education

For graduate education, Mexican students are looking for programs that can provide them 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, environment, business, education, and IT among other specialties.  Mexican students pursuing graduate education abroad, seek for funding or scholarship support, then, 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 10 to 12 grades, 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 partners to promote U.S. Boarding education opportunities.

Online Programs

Online Education has taken more 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 taken online but having the personal advisory option at least once a month, as students still need the personal contact with the instructor.

Research and Development

Since 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 partnership in research projects in conjunction with industry players.

Professional Training Services

Workforce and professional training are an important element to improve 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, effectiveness, innovate and strengthen their relationship with clients.  Customized training in information technologies, quality control, management and language programs are in high demand.  It is important to highlight that in 2020 companies have implemented home office activities; therefore, training programs now are given via online.

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, have 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 has challenged the education sector, mainly in the K-12 levels, as students continue their academic activities through digital channels.  The Mexican Secretariat of Education launched the ‘Learn at Home’ (Aprende en Casa) program, a virtual project that allows students from public and private K-12 institutions to follow academic lessons either online or through a TV channel.  The broadcasting program is aimed at families who lack internet access or do not have electronic devices for each family member.  Over 500,000 teachers and parents received online training providing tools to support online learning for students throughout the pandemic.

Higher education institutions in Mexico have evolved to educational models that incorporate innovative digital classrooms, laboratories (robotics, language), and digital libraries as part of their strategies to improve the teaching and student experience.

Opportunities

Key opportunities are in three key sub-sectors:

  • Academic-related training in the United States is the largest subsector divided into undergraduate, graduate, non-degree programs (including language proficiency), and practical training.
  • Professional training services in Mexico represent significant opportunities for U.S. educational providers, which can include partnerships with local educational 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), in Mexico in 2019, there were about 80 million internet users in Mexico, a 4% increase from the previous year.  From different age segments, the main group that uses internet for most of their daily activities is the group of people from 18-24 years old, followed by the 12-17 year old population.  Among the main activities Mexican internet users report are for entertainment, search of information, and communication (use of social media)

Mexico: Use of Internet by age
Mexico: Use of the Internet by age

         Source: INEGI

Social media has become a powerful marketing tool to reach out to promote academic mobility.  In Mexico, digital platforms are fully integrated into the life of the students, not only for academic purposes, social media is the main place where students spend their time connecting with friends, searching information, and entertainment.  Mexican youth, mainly from 14-24 years old are avid users of platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter; Facebook and Linkedin are more used in the segments of 25-50 year old population.  

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 VAT law aimed to set rules for the rendering of the considered ‘digital services’ by foreign residents.  Under the new taxation regime, digital services – including distance learning – that are performed through digital content or applications via internet or any other network, which are fundamentally automated, are subject to specific VAT rules (16% tax) whenever the receiver of the service is located in Mexico.

Events

  • Mexico College Fair Tour, various locations in Mexico
  • Bett Latin America Leadership Summit, Mexico City

Resources

U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE CONTACT

Martha Sánchez, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Mexico City, Mexico

Email: martha.sanchez@trade.gov

Phone: +52 55 5080 2000, ext. 5225