Trends in student mobility

by Ina Chiriliuc

There has been a significant shift in the preference for study destinations. Students planning to pursue their courses abroad have started to consider new locations and this is only natural since the rather popular study destinations are very competitive, expensive and for many, a great distance away from home. The once obvious foreign destinations such as: United Kingdom, Germany and France have been losing inbound students in the last period, according to data in the “Education at a glance” 2010 Report, published by the Organisation for Economic and Co-Operation Development (OECD).

Considering that globally the number of foreign students has in the mean time increased, it is only obvious that there appeared a whole new range of booming destinations for studies. In a comparison of OECD’s “Education at a glance” reports for 2009 and 2010, there has been a remarkable growth in the number of inbound students to New Zealand, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Slovak Republic and the Russian Federation.

Finally, there is a third category of countries, which managed to maintain their position as favoured destinations for studies, such as: the United States, Canada and Australia. The number of foreign students coming to these countries has gone through a somewhat modest, but sure growth.

The “Education at a glance” report presents a variety of figures about education in the 2 years before the actual report is produced. Therefore, the 2010 Report corresponds to the 2008-2009 academic period.

Below, we have the figures for the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 academic years and a calculation of the growth rate of inbound students.

Country Number of inbound students in 2008-2009 Number of inbound students in 2007-2008 Growth rate in the number of inbound students


Australia 230635 211526 9.03
Canada 185399 132246 40.19
Czech Republic 27907 24483 14.20
France 243436 246612 -1.29
Germany 245522 258513 -5.03
Netherlands 40795 37815 7.88
Russian Federation 143303 60288 137.70
United Kingdom 335870 351470 -4.44
United States 624474 595874 4.80

Germany had the most noteworthy decrease in foreign students, whereas the Russian Federation had an impressive growth of almost 138%. On one hand, Germany has been losing inbound students coming from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. On the other, Russia has gained inbound students from neighbouring Asian and European states at a growth rate higher than 100%. Looking at previous Reports, it is noticeable that Germany was losing inbound students even then. With Russia the situation is more peculiar, as comparing the OECD Reports prior to 2009 shows a persistent fall in the number of inbound students. The situation turns around only in the 2010 Report, when Russia demonstrates an extraordinary growth of 138% in the number of inbound students. This may well be due to a real, much higher inflow of foreign students, but also because of some other factors, which cannot be analyzed without some additional data.

Sources: OECD “Education at a glance” 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007 Reports,3354,en_2649_39263238_1_119656_1_1_1,00.html

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