Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF

Subscribe for free

The global flow of tertiary-level students

Do you like good market data as much as we do? How about informative data visualisations? Well, you can find both in a new interactive map produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

“The Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students” map draws on UIS global data to provide a detailed picture of student flows to and from dozens of countries around the world. Select an individual country from the drop-down menu in the map and instantly see the flow of students mapped out worldwide. With a click of another button you can switch back and forth between views of outbound and inbound students for the same country.

In each case, as illustrated by the example for Brazil below, your selection is accompanied by a summary panel of key indicators for that market as well as detailed inbound and outbound mobility statistics.

Needless to say, there are a variety of methods for gathering international student mobility statistics and, as is often the case, a given data set presents a particular view of student mobility. The UIS data is no exception to this as it reflects higher education enrolments (including distance learning) as reported by official statistical agencies in each participating country.

This means there are some natural limits to the data set. It does not reflect language learning or secondary school enrolments and there may be some exposure to varying methodologies for gathering statistics from country to country across the survey.

Nevertheless, the overall patterns illustrated in the UIS map interface provide an important window into global mobility patterns, and as such it represents a useful contribution to the archive of current market research for student recruitment professionals.

In its accompanying notes for the Global Flow map, the UIS also provides a series of high-level statistics with respect to higher education mobility worldwide.

  • An estimated 3.6 million students were enrolled in tertiary education abroad in 2010, a 78% increase from the 2 million internationally mobile students recorded in 2000.
  • East Asia is the largest source of international students, representing 28% of the global total, with students from China accounting for about half of this student population.
  • The Arab States have recorded a steady rise in outbound students over the past decade, and now account for 7% of the total global population of internationally mobile students.
  • UIS reports that China, India, and South Korea were the world’s leading sources of internationally mobile students in 2010. And the UIS data set also indicates the top destination countries for 2010 as follows:
    • United States (19%)
    • United Kingdom (11%)
    • Australia (8%)
    • France (7%)
    • Germany (6%)
    • Japan (4%)

Please visit the Global Flow map yourself to experiment with the data available there. The UIS Data Centre also provides considerable detail and supporting statistics across more than 1,000 indicators for education, literacy, science and technology, culture and communication.

Sign up for our news alerts!

Did you enjoy this article? Then don’t miss the next one!

Subscribe for free