Global outbound student numbers to grow at slower pace this decades

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Posted on March 15, 2024


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A recent survey has shown that although the number of nations sending students abroad to study will not stop growing, it will increase more slowly than it did in the preceding two decades.

A new indicator that has shown a relationship between the increase of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and the number of outbound students per country has made the forecast conceivable. According to a research by Oxford Economics, which was commissioned by the British Council, a nation’s percentage of international outbound students increases along with its GDP share.

It is demonstrated that, since UNESCO started keeping statistics in 1998, the new metric has properly tracked the number of outgoing students. Researchers claim that because of this robust historical correlation, the metric offers a reliable forecast for the number of international students who will leave the country in the future.

According to the analysis, global GDP growth is predicted to drop from a rate of about 5.5% per year in the two decades before the pandemic to an average pace of 4.2% per year between now and 2030.

This suggests that, although the worldwide forecast for the number of foreign students is still favorable, the years leading up to 2030 are expected to see somewhat less growth, averaging between 4 and 5 percent annually.

In the face of a more competitive global economy by 2030, academics predict that sustained development in student recruitment will hinge on a more strategic approach to market targeting and resource allocation.

China is predicted to see the largest growth rate slowdown, with notable slowdowns also forecast in other important overseas markets, such as India, Vietnam, Nigeria, and Indonesia. Researchers discovered that over the 2019–30 timeframe, the speed of growth is only expected to increase in Brazil and Pakistan.

Up to 2030, China and India are predicted to continue to be the top nations in the world for sending students abroad, while Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are predicted to see increases in the number of students leaving their borders.

The UK higher education industry benefits from a stable and diverse environment in high-income advanced economies such as Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong (SAR), Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Spain, despite their relatively modest growth prospects.

Despite a number of macroeconomic obstacles that will hinder the growth of outbound student mobility overall over the medium term, the UK will continue to rely on these nations for recruitment until 2030, mainly through their ability to overtake other study destinations in the market share. These nations are Brazil, Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria, and Turkey.

“The UK must work to maintain its position as a global leader in higher education at a time of increased competition for international students,” stated Maddalaine Ansell, Director of Education at the British Council. According to this survey, even if the number of overseas students will keep rising, we shouldn’t become complacent. The British Council will keep interacting with the UK higher education industry, offer insights into this growth slowdown, and think about ways to draw in students from some of the emerging regions the study highlighted.