More students pursuing higher education abroad
According to the latest UIS data, at least 3.6 million students in 2010 were enrolled in tertiary education abroad, up from 2 million in 2000. The surge in internationally mobile students* reflects the rapid expansion of enrolment in higher education globally, which has grown by 78% in a decade.
East Asia and the Pacific is the largest source of international students, representing 28% of the global total. Students from China make up one-half of this figure, or 17% of the total. The United States, Australia, and Japan are their main destinations for study.
North America and Western Europe follows, accounting for 15% of those going abroad.
In relative terms, students from Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are the most mobile in the world. About 6 out of 100 tertiary students from Central Asia, and 5 out of 100 from sub-Saharan Africa go away to study.
Education hubs are developing in the regions and attracting growing concentrations of mobile students. South Africa, for example, received 17% of mobile students from sub-Saharan Africa in 2010. Nonetheless, France remains the region's top destination, receiving 19% of students.
The Arab States has also seen a steady rise in outbound students over the past ten years, accounting for 7% of the global total. France, the United States and the United Kingdom absorb most of these students; however, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) are also popular destinations for high-level studies.
Several countries have more students studying abroad than at home. In São Tomé and Principe, for example, fewer than 1,000 students were enrolled in domestic higher education institutions, representing 4% of its tertiary-age population; whereas approximately 2,500 students studied abroad, or 14% of tertiary-age population. In other words, 18% of the population of university age were enrolled in higher education programmes.
For more statistics on students flows into and out of more than 100 countries, please visit the UIS Data Centre.
* The term “internationally mobile students” refers to students who have crossed a national border to study, or are enrolled in a distance learning programme abroad. These students are not residents or citizens of the country where they study. Internationally mobile students are a sub-group of “foreign students,” a category that includes those who have permanent residency in the host country. For this reason, the number of foreign students, globally, tends to be higher.
Top destination countries:
- United States (19%)
- United Kingdom (11%)
- Australia (8%)
- France (7%)
- Germany (6%)
- Japan (4%)
Top 3 destinations by region:
- Arab States: France (29%), United States (13%), United Kingdom (10%)
- Central and Eastern Europe: Germany (16%), Russian Federation (10%), United States (8%)
- Central Asia: Russian Federation (46%), Kyrgyzstan (10%), Turkey (7%)
- East Asia and the Pacific: United States (28%), Australia (17%), Japan (12%)
- Latin America and the Caribbean: United States (33%), Spain (15%), Cuba (11%)
- North America and Western Europe: United Kingdom (23%), United States (15%), and Germany (8%)
- South and West Asia: United States (38%), United Kingdom (18%), Australia (11%)
- Sub-Saharan Africa: France (19%), South Africa (17%), United Kingdom (12%)
Top sources of international students:
- Republic of Korea
Regions that host the largest number of internationally mobile students:
- North America and Western Europe (58%)
- East Asia and the Pacific (21%), and
- Central and Eastern Europe (9%)
Countries that have more students studying abroad than at home:
- São Tomé and Principe