Wake me up before you go, go

Up until recently, countries and regions pointed out the importance of opening their door to foreign students, but they’ve seldom acted on exploring international study opportunities for their own citizens. Now, with the world’s economies getting more tied to each other, that’s about to change.


The US, Canada, the UK and Australia have enjoyed, for a long time now, the title of the most-wanted study destinations for international students. In 2015-2016, international enrollment grew by 7% in the US and by 8% in Canada, and nearly 46% of those studying at postgraduate level in the UK came from outside the EU. Academic flexibility, a variety of universities, courses and funding alternatives, leading-edge technology, support services and the chance to work towards a reputable career – these are all benefits of living and studying in these countries.

In a report published in 2017 by Line Verbik, Research Manager at Hobsons, and Veronica Lasanowski, Research Officer at The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, we notice that “Western economies are increasingly seeking to both recruit international students and retain them after graduation because in an era of globalisation, international students hold several short- and long-term gains for institutions and countries. In the first instance, with public per-student funding for higher education decreasing in many countries, universities and colleges are looking to diversify their generated income and the revenue earned from overseas student tuition has become one important way of doing so.

In the long term, and in the wider socio-economic context, developed countries are looking to attract foreign skilled labour to supplement their rapidly decreasing and ageing populations. According to national immigration authorities, Australia will have 200,000 more jobs than people to fill them in five years’ time. With one of the lowest birth rates in the OECD, Canada is expected to become increasingly reliant on skilled immigration to the country to boost the labour force. Close to 20% of current Canadian citizens were born abroad, an indication that the country is arguably already reliant on the skills the more than 130,000 international students who annually enrol there. For these reasons, concerns over enrollment trends have warranted the attention of national governments in countries such as the US and the UK, because not only do these countries want overseas students, they actually need them for economic development.” (International Student Mobility: Patterns and Trends)


But, in order to endorse internationalisation, these countries have started to promote the opportunity of studying overseas to their own students. In America, from 2.6 million students who earn an undergraduate degree, only 300,000 choose to study abroad. New campaigns to advertise this possibility aim to double this number by 2020 by adding financial support and alumni engagement onto the list. The Generation Study Abroad network tries to pick up the pace and promote study abroad and experiential learning experiences at undergraduate and graduate levels.

In Canada, only 3.1% out of undergraduates study abroad at the moment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not interested in going overseas to continue their education (86% of them are keen to pursue this route), but the financial aspect plays an important role in their decision. Established in 1966, The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) is a national NGO that wants to get more people to undertake learning in other countries and become global citizens by offering all sorts of international scholarships, programs and projects.

The UK, on the other hand, launched its own program in 2013 (the UK Strategy for Outward Mobility) that wants to increase outbound education mobility by 20% in the next three years’ time. With the Brexit situation, it will be crucial for the UK to go big and global. The UK Strategy for Outward Mobility is a national initiative designed to facilitate an increase in the number of UK students who seek international placements. The plan wishes to define outward mobility as a flexible and great opportunity that more and more students will opt for.

It is estimated that in 2015, 5 million students were studying outside their home countries, and that number is increasing as we speak.


Source: ICEF Monitor.