OECD data shows overseas tertiary study growth

June 27, 2013

The number of international students enrolled in tertiary education outside their home country increased to 4.3 million in 2011, according to the latest data released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), while emerging destinations continue to increase market share.

Source – Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators

The Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators figure of 4.3 million represents an increase of approximately five per cent over the 2010 total of 4.1 million, with the total more than doubling since 2000.

Some 53 per cent of all international students worldwide in 2011 were from Asia, with China alone accounting for 21 per cent of the global total, followed by India (6.5). Asia was a particularly important source for Korea, representing 94 per cent of enrolments, Japan (93) and Australia (81). A high degree in intra-regional mobility was also recorded within the EU21 countries, where 75 per cent of all international students were from another EU country, reflecting the ease of mobility within the European Union.

The USA was the top destination and held a steady market share at 16.5 per cent, while the UK in second place retained a 13 per cent share, followed by Germany on 6.3 per cent, France on 6.2 and Australia with 6.1 - slipping from third place in the 2010 indicators. Slight increases in market share were recorded by Russia, Japan, Spain, South Africa, Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Combined Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the USA received more than 50 per cent of all international students. G20 countries attracted 83 per cent of all international students worldwide, while 77 per cent were enrolled at an institution in an OECD country.

The report also notes the dominance of the English language in the increase in enrolments, with 40 per cent of the rise in international students since 2000 being attributed to the English-speaking destinations, while other host nations such as the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Korea have increased offerings in English.

In terms of international students as a proportion of total student enrolment, Australia had the highest ratio at 19.8 per cent, followed by the UK (16.8 per cent), Switzerland (16.2), New Zealand (15.6), and Austria (14.7). The average across all OECD countries was seven per cent.

All reporting countries, with the exception of Germany, had a higher proportion of international students enrolled in advanced research programmes than any other tertiary-level programme. In most of the major destinations, social sciences, business and law was the most popular subject category, with 55 per cent of international students in Australia and 44 per cent in the UK enrolled in these fields.

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