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Which countries are most preferred by global students in Asia?

The US has established its reputation as a preferred destination for overseas students.

Written by Thelearnvine

The landscape of international higher education has been experiencing considerable changes, notably with the advent of Asian student movements. The advent of Asian nations like China and India as main contributors to foreign student populations in global educational powerhouses like the United States and the United Kingdom signifies a fundamental paradigm change.

Growing Asian Presence in the United States


According to a research from Open Doors Data, the US has established its reputation as a primary destination for overseas students. In the academic year 2021/22, a total of 948,519 students from over two hundred different countries chose the US. A noteworthy comeback was evident as new international student enrollments increased by 80%, reaching 261,961, essentially reverting to pre-pandemic levels.

China and India were the most major donors, accounting about 52% of all foreign students. However, China witnessed a 9% year-over-year fall, while India had a huge 19% growth in student enrollment year-over-year.

The expansion in foreign student populations is not primarily ascribed to China and India. T Throughout the same academic year, the number of students from six out of the top 25 countries of origin increased by double digits. Data from Open Doors 2021/2022 indicated that 40,755 South Korean students were studying in the US.

This data demonstrates that the US remains an attractive site for higher education from a global viewpoint, even as other countries like the United Kingdom grow increasingly popular among particular populations.


United Kingdom


Affordable tuition, shorter postgraduate programs, and good international university rankings make the UK an intriguing option to the US. Moreover, the graduate route established in July 2021, enabling qualifying students to stay in the UK for two or three years post-graduation, has further heightened the UK’s attraction.

In accordance with Universities UK, in the academic year 2021–22, 679,970 international learners were studying at UK higher education institutions. Among them, 126,535 were Indian, and 151,690 were Chinese. This is further reinforced by the data given by Statista showing the UK has overtaken the US as the top option for Chinese students, indicating an 80% growth over the previous decade.

Indian nationals account for 42% of grants on the graduate route, demonstrating a significant tendency to prolong their stay in the UK for employment or job-seeking and perhaps long-term migration.

The other Asian nations that send the most students to the UK are:
Hong Kong, with 17,630 students
Bangladesh with 12,700 students
Malaysia with 12,135 students
Saudi Arabia with 8,750 students
the United Arab Emirates with 8,085 students.




It is special to notice that Australia is becoming as a significant center for students globally. The nation welcomed a record 502,000 visa holders in the year ending in July 2023, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is an 85% increase in student visa arrivals over the same period in 2019. Data from the Australian Department of Home Affairs, which reveals that the total number of temporary student visas issued in July 2023 hit an all-time high of 654,870, further confirms this growth.

The principal countries fuelling the migration of overseas students to Australia are, expectedly, China and India, while applications from many other nations are also on the increase in Australian academic institutions. A survey from international student statistics suggests that China is the biggest source country of foreign students in Australia, representing 40.5% of the total students enrollments. India is second in terms of contributions, making up 16.1% of total enrolments of international students.

Statista predicts that, as of June 2022, Australia has enrolled over 141,000 Chinese students, with 116,700 of them in the higher education sector. Among the 10 greatest markets for Australian higher education, Thailand, the sixth on the list, had a phenomenal 61% rise in enrollments, reaching 25,792 students. Nepal, the third biggest market, witnessed a 21% growth, reaching 71,805 students. Similarly, Pakistan, listed as the ninth largest market, too had a 21% growth in enrollments, reaching 20,935 students.


New Zealand


New Zealand also makes headway with its unique method to strategic expansion in foreign education, according to Education NZ’s 2022 Statements of Performing Expectations.
In the words of Ben Burrowes, Education NZ Asia Regional Director, the purpose is clear: “We do not want to be overly dependent on one or two specific nations, and we need our Kiwi students to gain knowledge alongside all sorts of different nationalities, cultures, religions, etc.” This strategic diversification coincides with wider governmental aims, seeking to strengthen the multicultural atmosphere inside educational institutions in New Zealand.

While South Korea is undoubtedly a major area, Education NZ is also looking at other Asian nations for expansion, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan. Burrowes underlines that these new emphasis points do not lessen the relevance of established markets like China: “They all remain of equal importance.”

In 2023, Immigration New Zealand accepted 21% of new study visas for Chinese students and 14% for Indian students, with the Philippines having the third greatest proportion at 6%.


Asia’s Surge in Global Higher Education


Asian nations, notably powerhouses like China and India, have undergone spectacular economic expansion in recent decades. This wealth has generated an extended middle class with the wherewithal to invest in foreign education. Western universities, stretching from the US and UK to Australia and Canada, have long been considered as bastions of intellectual brilliance. Drawn to the attraction of greater research possibilities and comprehensive curricula, many Asian students pursue study in these countries.

Such foreign experience also provides for essential global networking, offering doors to many job prospects across multinational landscapes. On a practical point, nations like Canada and Australia provide prospective immigration options for Asian students. The tight battle for spaces in top-tier colleges inside Asia, given the sheer amount of applicants, has also driven many to go overseas for their higher education dreams.

Bolstering this tendency, numerous Asian governments actively support abroad education, granting scholarships in the hopes that students, once endowed with international skills, will return to contribute domestically. Deep-rooted cultural norms in many Asian nations emphasize the vital significance of education, causing families to prioritize and invest large money towards it.

As globalization dissolves borders, the requirement for a worldly perspective in education only rises. It’s remarkable that as Asia’s significance in global politics develops, its schools are recruiting a broad cohort of foreign students, demonstrating the dynamic two-way flow of global education today.


Rising Asian Impact on Global Higher Education


Actually, foreign student moves from Asia, lead by India and China, are on the rise across global higher education. While the US and UK have been traditional destinations, countries like Australia and New Zealand are also reaping the advantages, owing to diversification initiatives and policy reforms to recruit more of these students. These changes in student demographics don’t only improve the economy; they also strengthen the cultural and academic tapestry of host countries.

The ongoing spike in student immigration from various Asian nations signals a fundamental paradigm change in international education, driving educational institutions throughout the world to innovate and adapt to these growing trends.


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