GLOBAL: Who goes where and why?

A report published by the US Institute of International Education and the American Institute for Foreign Study examines the intricacies of student mobility. Commenting on the report, International Focus, a publication produced by the UK International Unit, notes that more than 3.3 million students now study outside their home country.

It says the topic of student mobility is top of the agenda for those "immersed in the world of higher education", adding that the picture is also becoming increasingly complex. The report, Who Goes Where and Why? An overview and analysis of global educational mobility, seeks to answer the many questions that educators, governments and businesses worldwide have about international student mobility.

The study covers all physical movements across national boundaries for educational purposes, with a special focus on university and college students, around whom an 'international marketplace' is quickly developing.

International Focus says that while the latest OECD and UNESCO figures show that only about 2% of the total world student population is internationally mobile, the number of foreign students enrolled in tertiary education has risen by 85% since 2000 - primarily because of the rapid growth in enrolments over the past decade.

"And these figures do not even consider shorter-term mobility!"

The study highlights that, despite the growth of tertiary opportunities 'at home', the rapid development of different forms of transnational education and the financial crisis (based on the few figures that are currently available), young people remain as keen to study abroad as ever.

"There are signs, however, that patterns and flows of international students may start to change. Although today's leading host countries - the US, UK, Germany, France, Australia and Canada (in descending order) - will no doubt continue to exert a strong attraction for international students, it is likely their share will continue to decline.

"Many parts of the developing world have concerns about 'brain drain', especially India and China, and are investing in higher education. Transnational education is on the increase; and the phenomenon of educational 'hubs' continues."

As the report points out, this all suggests that mobile students are increasingly likely to choose destinations within their own regions, "and thus we may begin to see less of an 'East-West' movement, as has traditionally been the case."

* The report is available from IEE Books for US$39.95.

* The book is available to order at