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Understanding global student mobility flows

03 Mar 2020

Austrade hosts open access global student mobility resources, including an insights report, three case studies and interactive dashboard tool.

This resource was developed as part of the ‘International Higher Education Student Flows via Global Data Integration’ project, to better understand trends in global student mobility. The project was facilitated by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Enabling Growth and Innovation Program and delivered by Nous Group and Navitas, with support from Austrade. There are three key components of this new resource:

  1. The International Higher Education Student Flows’ report provides some useful analysis on global student flows. Key insights are:
    • Sustained growth in global student mobility — with outbound tertiary students more than doubling between 2004 and 2016 (from around 2.5 million to almost 5.5 million)
    • The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia remain the top study destinations, but new players are emerging — including Malaysia, China, Netherlands, Russia and Canada.
    • China is the key source market, generating a fifth of outbound tertiary students in 2016, but other source markets are experiencing notable growth — including India, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia
  2. Three cases studies were developed as part of the project;
    • Case study 1 focused on the three categories of emerging destination countries; next wave (destinations with ‘high pull power’ among diverse source countries), latent (large destination with low pull power but capacity to increase pull) and promising (smaller destinations with strong recent growth) 
    • Case study 2 explored how product preferences (e.g. field of study) differed among the key source countries. The report found that there are notable differences across the top source countries, but that these do not align neatly with Australian inbound trends.
    • Case study 3 considered the impact of policy settings on global student flows. A key lesson is that some policy types have a greater impact (e.g. visa settings or work rights) than others.
  3. An interactive global student mobility tool allows users to visualise the movement of tertiary students between different countries. The tool can be filtered by source country and destination country mobility over time, with supplementary information on fields of study displayed where data is available.  The tool uses modelled UNESCO and Project Atlas data.