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Emerging Student Markets for Higher Education in 2024

5 min read

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Thaís Roberto
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New international student markets emerge each recruitment cycle, with significant shifts requiring institutions to renew their recruitment strategies.

As universities seek to diversify their student bodies and attract more international students, these emerging markets present exciting prospects for institutions and students.

Continue reading for more details about the fastest-growing student markets for 2024.

India overtakes China

For over a decade, China has led the international student market across every major destination, sending hundreds of thousands of students to countries like the US, the UK, and Australia every year. However, as of 2023, China no longer holds its position as the #1 source of international students.

Following a surge in outbound Indian students, the US Department of Homeland Security recorded more than 320,000 Indian students with active visas, while the UK issued almost 140,000 study visas for Indian students in 2022, signalling a 73% growth over 2021.

However, despite India and China’s domination of the global education market, many other countries show a rapidly growing potential for international recruiters.

Nigeria

Nigeria is often cited as the fastest-growing market in international education, with some experts equating it to India regarding offers made to students.

According to the 2023 report by Erudera, Nigeria is the third country with the most international students in the UK, with a total of 44,195 students, only ranking behind China and India. The number marks a 107.4% increase from 21,305 Nigerian students during the 2021/22 academic year.

 

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Across the Atlantic, the Institute of International Education’s 2023 Open Doors report placed Nigeria as the 7th most common country of origin of international students in the US, with an all-time high of 17,640 Nigerian students in American universities – a 22% increase from the previous year.

Philippines

The Canadian Bureau for International Education reported an impressive 112% growth in incoming Filipino students in 2022, amounting to 32,455 students, who made up 4% of all incoming international students that year. These numbers put the Philippines as the third most common country of origin in Canadian education, only falling behind the world-leading Chinese and Indian markets.

Another popular destination is Australia, which hosted 17,976 Filipino students in 2022, according to Erudera.

In a statement to The PIE News, a spokesperson for IDP Connect explained that, “Filipinos opt for Canada due to its promising employment opportunities, while Australia is favored for its exceptional education quality. However, both countries are equally popular for being safe for international students.”

Pakistan

The US registers steady growth in enrolled Pakistani students, hosting an all-time high of 10,164 students in the 2022/23 academic year - up from 8,772 in 2021/22 – ranking Pakistan as the 16th most common country of origin.

However, the top destinations among Pakistani students are the UK and Australia, each having received 12,975 and 15,875 students in 2022, respectively.

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Post-graduate employment options are the primary benefits that place the UK and Australia as the top choice among Pakistanis, who mainly see studying abroad as a means to gain an advantage in the job market following an increase in unemployment levels in their home country. Universities with the best post-graduation career prospects will have an advantage when recruiting Pakistani students.

Indonesia

The latest data from UNESCO reveals that 59,224 Indonesian students studied abroad in 2020. The most popular destinations were Australia, which hosted 11.683 students; Malaysia, with 9,862; the US, with 7,445; and Japan, with 5,095.

Affordability and proximity are top priorities for international Indonesian students. In the AFS Intercultural Programs 2017 survey, 45% of respondents claimed they could only pursue a degree abroad with a scholarship. Indonesian culture also holds family ties in strong regard, which is reflected in 46% of respondents citing fear of homesickness as one of their main concerns.

Universities near Indonesia have a competitive edge in recruiting Indonesian students. For institutions farther away, creating a welcoming atmosphere through their online presence and dedicated resources for parents can help bridge the gap caused by physical distance, making them more appealing to Indonesian students and their families.

Other Emerging Markets

Several other emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have significantly grown in the number of students studying abroad.

According to ICEF, the number of Bangladeshi students studying abroad rose from 49,150 in 2020 to over 70,000 in 2022, with the UK, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates as top destinations. Nepal saw an increase from 95,270 to 125,500 students studying abroad, with Australia, Japan, and India as leading destinations.

In Latin America, Colombian students studying abroad increased by 54% in Canada in 2022. Brazil shows an increase in outgoing students to Argentina, Australia, Portugal, Canada, and the US. Mexican students display a growing preference for Canada, resulting in a 30% increase in 2022, with the US and Spain also appearing among the preferred choices for Mexican students.

South African students increasingly choose the UK, the US, and Cuba for medical studies. The US registered a 14% increase in incoming students from South Africa compared to the previous year, while Canada hosted 36% more South Africans than the previous year. Students from Egypt and Morocco also show a growing interest in studying abroad, often choosing Canada, France, and Germany as their destinations.

Power in strategic collaborations

The evolving landscape presents both challenges and opportunities, leading institutions to adapt and innovate to meet the demands of an ever-changing global education ecosystem. Collaborating with educational institutions, governments, and industry stakeholders will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of higher education. By understanding what students from each country seek, universities can optimize recruitment strategies to stand out in the increasingly competitive international education market.

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