See also
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer

RSS feed

Share |
A -  A+
ISCED Mappings
Cartographies de la CITE 1997
WEI Programme
La principale source de données sur l'Éducation
ISCED: International Standard Classification of Education
Indicateurs mondiaux sur l'éducation
CITE : Classification Internationale Type de l'Education
Financement de l'éducation
Observatory of Learning Outcomes
International goals
Out-of-school Children
Statistiques relatives à l’enseignement supérieur
Normes et méthodologies
Standards and Methodologies
Education Finance
Higher Education
Objectifs internationaux de l'éducation
Enfants non scolarisés
L'Observatoire sur les résultats d'apprentissage
Les plans de collecte de données
Women in higher education
La place des femmes dans l'enseignement supérieur
Questions and Answers about ISCED 2011
Education Data Release
Publication de données de l’ISU sur l’éducation
Out-of-school children: New data reveal persistent challenges
Enfants non scolarisés : de nouvelles données soulignent les défis persistants.
New Questionnaire on Adult Education for Latin America and the Caribbean
Lancement d’un nouveau questionnaire sur l’éducation des adultes en Amérique latine et Caraïbes
Global Demand for Primary Teachers
Word Development Report 2012
Rapport mondial sur le développement 2012
Event: Tackling the challenges of secondary education
Evénement marquant la Journée mondiale des enseignants
Global Education Digest 2011
Recueil de données mondiales sur l’éducation 2011
New education data release
ISCED 2011 responds to needs of evolving education systems
La CITE 2011 répond aux besoins de systèmes éducatifs en évolution
Gender and Education
Nouvelle publication de données sur l’éducation
Education Data Release
Launch of 2013 Education Survey
Home > Education > Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students Accueil

 Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students 

Where do students go to study? Where do they come from? UIS data on the mobility of students shed light on the shifting demand for higher education, particularly in the developing world.


To explore the data select a country from the menu, or click on the map.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Content Editor Web Part

More students pursuing higher education abroad


According to the latest UIS data, at least 3.8 million students in 2011 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 83% in a decade.


East Asia and the Pacific is the largest source of international students, representing 29% of the global total. Students from China make up one-half of this figure, or 18% of the total. The United States, Japan and Australia 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 22% of mobile students from sub-Saharan Africa in 2011. Nonetheless, France remains the region's top destination outside of the African continent, receiving 18% 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 higher education.


In about 15 countries, students studying abroad account for half or more of those studying at home. In Comoros, for example, some 16,000 students were enrolled in domestic higher education institutions, representing10% of its tertiary-age population; whereas approximately 3,700 students studied abroad, or 6% of tertiary-age population. In  other words, 16% 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.


Data presented here are drawn from the UIS, as well as the OECD and Eurostat data collections on mobile students. These data cover only students who pursue a higher education degree outside their country of residence (so called “degree mobility”), and exclude students who are under short-term, for-credit study and exchange programmes that last less than a full school year (so called “credit mobility”).


Quick Facts:


Top destination countries:

  • United States (19%)
  • United Kingdom (11%)
  • Australia (7%)
  • France (7%)
  • Germany (5%)
  • Japan (4%)

Top sources of international students:

  • China (649,500)
  • India (196,200)
  • Republic of Korea (128,200)

Regions that host the largest number of internationally mobile students:

  • North America and Western Europe (58%)
  • East Asia and the Pacific (20%), and
  • Central and Eastern Europe (9%)

Countries that have more students studying abroad than at home:

  • Anguilla
  • Montserrat
  • Andorra
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • São Tomé and Principe
  • Seychelles


Additional resources:


Skip to main content