More foreign students, more Mauritians study abroad

The number of international students studying in Mauritius increased during 2014 to more than 1,500 from 65 countries, while the number of Mauritians studying abroad also rose, according to the 16th annual Participation in Tertiary Education report.

The Indian Ocean island off Africa’s east coast, which has become the continent’s most developed country, is positioning itself as a higher education hub – a destination for foreign students and for international higher education institutions.

The report, published this month by the Tertiary Education Commission, gives details of enrolment in Mauritius’s 10 publicly funded institutions, 43 private post-secondary education institutions, as well as self-study students (registered at 23 examination centres) and Mauritian students overseas (from data on student visas issued by foreign embassies).

Student statistics

The report finds that overall higher education enrolment totalled 50,608 students, “maintaining the levelling-off trend witnessed in 2012 and 2013 when total enrolment amounted to 49,625 and 50,579 respectively”.

The gross tertiary enrolment rate declined to 49.2% from 50.1% in 2013. This reflects the participation rate of local students in higher education and takes the total number of Mauritian students at home and abroad as a percentage of the population aged 20 to 24 years.

International students studying in Mauritius totalled 1,546, up from 1,194 in 2013, said the report. More than 90% (1,405) were enrolled in post-secondary education institutions, with 1,220 taking a bachelor-level course.

A total of 746 (48%) of the students from abroad were studying medicine.

The foreign students came from 65 countries, with the greatest numbers from India, South Africa, Nigeria, Madagascar, France and Bangladesh.

In the other direction, the total number of Mauritians studying abroad rose to 10,151 in 2014, after falling in the two previous years, said the report. Their preferred destinations were the United Kingdom (2,515 students, nearly a quarter of the total), Australia (1,879), France-La Réunion (1,756), India (1,308) and China (1,108).

The most popular fields of study for Mauritian students abroad were medicine, engineering, law and business-commerce-marketing.

For medical studies the majority chose China and France or La Réunion, presumably because costs were lower than other destinations, said the report. Engineering students favoured the UK, France-La Réunion and Australia, and those reading law preferred the UK.

Other findings

The report publishes tables giving detailed breakdowns on international students, their studies and countries of origin, and on Mauritians studying abroad.

Other findings in the report were:
  • • About four-fifths of Mauritian students (40,457) were studying locally and the remaining 10,151 were studying abroad. Of those based locally, 34,123 were enrolled in a public or private institution, and 6,334 were undertaking self-study.
  • • Three-fifths of students (30,370) were studying full-time; 18.4% (9,300) part-time, and 21.6% (10,938) through distance education, including self-study. All overseas students were full-time.
  • • Women students outnumbered men, accounting for 55% of the student population in higher education institutions.
  • • Three-fifths of students in public and private institutions were studying for a first degree, 13.3% for a postgraduate qualification, 11.9% for a sub-degree and 14.8% were taking a professional programme.
  • • The most popular fields of study were accounting and administration-management, information technology and engineering. Other popular studies included medicine, education and banking-finance.
  • • About 15,830 students, or 31.3% of total higher education enrolment, were new intake, compared with 2013 when there were 18,564 new students – a decrease in 2014 of 2,734 students, or 14.7%.
  • • Enrolment in publicly funded institutions constituted 45% of total enrolment compared with 46.7% in 2013, with the four public universities accounting for 38.2% of students in higher education.
The Open University nearly doubled its tertiary student population over the year, from 1,512 to 2,841 (an increase of 88%), but all the other institutions except one “were unable to sustain expansion” and their enrolments fell by between 4.1% (University of Mauritius) and 32.9% (Mauritius Institute of Education).