50 facts and statistics about the most popular countries to study abroad in 2022.

Studying abroad in 2022

It’s often said that your university years are some of the best, most inspiring years of your life – made even more enjoyable and valuable if you choose to take a year out and study abroad.

If you ask the graduates who have, they’ll likely agree that becoming an international student away from home can massively enrich your personal, professional, and academic lives. It’s no wonder millions of students choose to pack their bags and take the plunge every year.

Well, listen up. We have plenty of facts and figures to help you understand more about life studying abroad.

Top left corner graphic Bottom right corner graphic
  • But what is studying abroad really like?
  • What destination country should you pick?
  • What are the benefits of studying abroad?
  • And who will you be sharing the experience with?

What is international student mobility?

International student mobility is the movement of students leaving their own country of residence to pursue higher education in another foreign country.

This move is temporary and can take place as an exchange programme, work placement, or as a greater plan to obtain part (or the entirety) of your degree/certification.

Harvard University

It’s important to point out the difference between host countries and source countries. These terms basically refer to inbound and outbound students. A host country is used to describe the destination that inbound international students choose to study in – while a source country is the origin of the outbound international students.

For example, American students studying abroad in Spain will be described as outbound international students in the host country of Spain.

As you’d expect, rates of student mobility differ across the world and some countries will have higher rates of outbound international students than inbound students – and vice versa. So without further ado, let's take a look at the 50 facts and figures that every student should know before choosing their destination and submitting their applications.

Must-know facts and stats

Let's get into the nitty-gritty with must-know stats and facts about international student mobility in 2022. We’ll explore the advantages of studying abroad, what the most popular destinations are, and why so many students pick these particular countries.

Student travelling around globe

The benefits: why study abroad?

So what is the value of studying abroad? Why are student mobility rates so high all across the world? Let’s explore.

Harvard University


A confidence boost

In a survey conducted by The Institute for International Education of Students (IES),


of international students think studying abroad helped them become more mature as a person.

So basically, you’ll probably come back older and wiser.

With a greater sense of independence,


also said it helped with their self-confidence and positively impacted their worldview.


Your skillset will grow

In the same survey, three-quarters of students believe the studying abroad experience also helped them acquire skills for future careers – such as improved interpersonal skills, better self-reliance, foreign language proficiency, and all-round adaptability to new environments.


Cultural learning experience

The experience is not just academically beneficial, it helps you become a more culturally-aware person too.

98% of students

said they returned with a better understanding of their own cultural values and biases, and a more sophisticated way of viewing the world and the people we share it with.

Source: iesabroad.org


Enhances the university experience


of students said their overall education experience was improved with the further career benefits that studying abroad brings.

Source: iesabroad.org

In fact, nearly


of students were employed or took part in international internships/volunteer work during their studies.

Source: iesabroad.org

Students chatting


You come back with more friends

Studying abroad isn’t the lonely experience you might think it is. In actual fact, you’ll make friends for life. Over half of students said they are still in close contact with the friends they made during their studies abroad.


Helps with employability

In an Erasmus Impact Study, researchers found that international students are generally less likely to experience long-term unemployment after graduating.

Going to university abroad helps set you up for life.

In fact, when compared to other non-international students, Erasmus students had

23% lower unemployment rate five years after graduation.


Employers value international study

Perhaps the biggest reason why studying abroad helps with landing a graduate job is that employers love it. In the same study, it was found that:

Hat and plane travel


of surveyed employers believe any form of international experience is good for recruitment.

Source: Erasmus Impact Study


of employers look for transversal skills – skills that students who study abroad commonly encompass, such as curiosity, tolerance, and confidence.


Your future career will thank you for it


of surveyed employers admit that they’re more likely to give greater professional responsibility to graduates who study abroad.

Source: Erasmus Impact Study

And amazingly, nearly 1 in 10 of the Erasmus students went on to start their own company. So, you want to be an entrepreneur? Study abroad.

Source: Erasmus Impact Study

Who’s studying abroad? And where should you go?

Now that we've discovered why student mobility can be so beneficial, let’s dive into who international students are – and where’s best to go. What countries are the most popular choices?

Harvard University


Studying abroad is growing in popularity

In 2021, the number of students studying abroad reached a global total of

5 million per year

Source: www.lek.com

– and this staggering number is only set to continue to rise too. According to forecasted figures, the study abroad numbers will have grown 5% by the year 2030.

Universities across the world


English-speaking countries are the most popular host countries

The top locations to study abroad include countries in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Out of the five million global total of students studying abroad per year, around

2.5 to three million

are studying in English-speaking countries

Source: www.lek.com


USA is by far the most popular host country

According to UNESCO, the United States of America has the highest number of international students in the world.

The number of international students currently studying in America is:


(as of June 2022)


China has the highest number of source international students

As of this year, the number of Chinese students currently studying abroad is:


Source: UNESCO


USA is the most popular destination for Chinese students

Out of the total number of Chinese students studying abroad, 340,222 are currently studying in the USA. This is approximately a third of the entire international Chinese student population.


Chinese students are currently studying in the USA

Source: UNESCO

Students spending time together


Some countries have more students studying abroad than at home

According to UNESCO, several countries have a much higher proportion of college students studying abroad than they do studying in their own national universities. These countries include Andorra, Anguilla, Bermuda, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Montserrat.


There are five top countries most students choose

The top five, most popular host countries for students studying abroad are:

  • USA flag USA
  • UK flag UK
  • China flag China
  • Canada flag Canada
  • Australia flag Australia

These countries alone make up half of the total global number of international students.

However, the countries in the top 10 aren’t far behind. The remaining top 10 most popular countries to study abroad in are:

  • France flag France
  • Russia flag Russia
  • Germany flag Germany
  • Japan flag Japan
  • Spain flag Spain

– all in respective order of popularity.

Studying in the USA

Next, let's look at the biggest facts and trends with studying abroad in the top most popular countries around the world – first up, America.

With its long list of renowned universities and specialist schools, it’s no wonder that so many international students choose to study abroad in the US. Ready?

Harvard University

Harvard University


America has the highest number of international students in the world

According to Studee.com, the USA has hosted the highest number of international students out of any country in the world for decades now.

Locations in USA on a map


COVID put a spanner in the works

Despite America’s consistently high rates of international students, this number dropped in recent years due to the disrupting effects of the COVID pandemic.

The total number of America’s international students fell a whopping 15% from

1,095,299 in 2019 to 914,095 in 2021

Source: opendoorsdata.org



A lot of US students choose Europe

So how about outgoing students? Where do American students choose to study abroad?


of all American students are going to college in Europe – particularly Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

Source: www.nafsa.org


The majority of US students who study abroad are female

Studies suggest the main reason for this gender gap is the gender-specific interests women develop throughout their educational courses.

In fact, from 2013-2014,


of all international students were female.

Students spending time together


Most US students only stay short-term

The majority of US international students study abroad for eight weeks or less ( 65% ). While 35% of the students stay for only one semester – and just 3% of students stay for the whole year.


STEM subjects are a super popular choice for American students studying abroad

The variety of subjects that US students are studying are relatively diverse. However, STEM subjects are the most popular.


of US students studying abroad are taking part in STEM studies.

Source: opendoorsdata.org

This is closely followed by Business and Management (21%), Social Science (17%), Foreign Languages & International Studies (7%), and Fine & Applied Arts (6.3%).

Student studying a STEM subject


The ethnic diversity of American students studying abroad is still low

While the racial and ethnic diversity of American students choosing to study abroad is slowly improving, the vast majority are still from a white background.


of all US students studying abroad are from ethnic minorities.

Source: opendoorsdata.org

However, this percentage has risen by just 18% in the last decade.


Europe is the top choice for American students studying abroad for academic credit

As we’ve already mentioned, there are all sorts of reasons to study abroad – perhaps it’s for a work placement, short-term summer studies, or a long-term year-long move to gain academic credit for your degree back home.

And for those who choose to study abroad for an entire year to gain academic credit, Europe is usually the top choice destination –

around 55%

Source: opendoorsdata.org

Studying in the UK

So how about the UK? What are some key facts and figures that students choosing to study abroad in the UK need to know?

Well, in addition to its high student population – and being a welcoming multicultural country, the UK is home to some of the world’s top-ranking universities and colleges, offering a super high standard of teaching and research.

In fact, a whopping 18 UK universities were placed in the top 1,000 of the 2020 QS World University Rankings.

Let’s find out more.

Harvard University

The University of Glasgow


The UK has a high population of international students

Figures published by Universities UK show that in 2020, international students made up 20.7% of the entire UK student population. Furthermore, international students made up 14.9% of all undergraduates, and 37.1% of all postgraduates.

Over a third

of all postgraduate students are international students studying in the UK. That’s a lot!

Students spending time together


Most international students in the UK are from China

But where do the UK’s international students come from? The answer is all over the world. However, the vast majority are Chinese international students. According to Finder.com, there are currently 89,318 Chinese students currently studying in the UK. That’s around 4% of the entire UK student population.

Malaysian students come in as the second-highest population of UK international students (17,360). Closely followed by Indian students (16,655), Nigerian students (16,072) and American students (15,654).


The UK publishes a lot of international research

UK universities are all about international collaboration and knowledge-sharing.


of all university research publications published in the UK involved some form of international research collaboration.

Source: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk


Outward student mobility is high in the UK

As well as being one of the most popular host countries for inbound students studying abroad, the UK also has high rates of outbound student mobility.

In fact, a total of


students were studying abroad for a UK degree back in 2020

Source: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk


The USA is the most popular destination for UK’s international students

We’ve discussed where the UK’s international students come from, but where do UK students choose to go on their study travels? Well, the answer is all over the world. But, the USA is by far the most popular destination for UK’s international students.

According to UNESCO, there are currently 10,279 UK students studying abroad in America.

This number is five times greater than Australia – the second most popular destination.

Number of UK students studying in:

Australia 2,235
France 1,999
Ireland 1,791
Canada 1,632
USA map graphic


A lot of international staff work at UK universities

UK universities are some of the most ethnically diverse universities around the world – and not just within the student population.



of all staff working at UK universities are international too.

Source: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

Studying in Germany

There are so many draws to studying in Germany as an international student which makes it something of a hotspot for nomadic learners. But why is Germany so popular? Let’s find out.

Harvard University

Helmholtz Institute Freiberg


Germany has a low cost of student living

One of the biggest reasons why so many students choose to study abroad in Germany is the low cost of living. Germany is generally an affordable place for international students to live and work.

Bag of money

Studying in Germany calculates that as of 2022, you will need around €861 per month (that’s around ​​€10,332 euros per year).

This budget should be enough to cover costs for all essentials including food, accommodation, bills, etc.


You can stay for a while longer after your studies

If you’re concerned about affordability, rest assured Germany’s international students can choose to work part-time for extra cash too. With an extended residence permit, there’s also the opportunity to stay in Germany a while longer even after your studies have finished. Current permit restrictions state you can stay for up to 18 months.

Student holding books


Other reasons students choose Germany

A survey carried out by Studying in Germany on the country’s international students found there to be four main reasons why so many students choose to study abroad in Germany:

Quality of educational institutions

(29.3% of respondents claimed this to be a reason)

English-speaking student diversity


Attractive country


Low tuition fees


Note that all of Germany’s public universities introduced tuition-free education in 2014. The only charge you receive is a small administrative fee of €150-€250/per semester.


Germany’s student population is massively growing

With these draws in mind, it’s no surprise that Germany’s student population is growing. In fact, according to Studying in Germany, Germany reached its 2020 target of welcoming 350,000 international students three years earlier in 2017.

The number continued to grow too.

In the 2020/2021 semester, Germany had over


international students

Source: www.studying-in-germany.org

Now Germany has one of the fastest-growing student populations in the world. From 2014 to 2021, the number of international students increased a staggering 38.19% . This was likely due to the introduction of tuition-free education back in 2014.

Studying in Australia

Australia’s student population is growing rapidly year by year – and for good reason too. With its unique great outdoors, vibrant cities, and selection of first-rate universities, Australia is unquestionably one of the best places to study abroad. Let’s dig a little down under.

Harvard University


Australia has one of the fastest-growing international student populations

But, before the COVID pandemic hit, this number reached an all-time high of 738,107 back in 2019.

Prior to 2019, this number was rising rapidly year on year too. In fact, between 2015 to 2019, the number of Australia’s international students increased by 58%. In 2015, there were 465,508 international students studying in Australia.

According to UNESCO, there are currently


international students studying in Australia.


Over a quarter of Australia’s international students are from China

Although Australia’s population of international students is racially and ethnically diverse, the majority of the country’s international students come from China.

According to Studying in Australia, back in 2019 there were 203,295 Chinese international students studying in Australia. – around 27% of the total international student population.

This is followed by:

Indian students 109,736 (14%)
Nepalese students 51,377 (6%)
Brazilian students 25,604 (3%)
Students spending time together


International education is a huge contributor to Australia’s economy

With such a large population of international students, it’s no surprise how important international education is for Australia’s economy.

Back in 2019, international education was worth a whopping

$37.6 billion

Source: www.studying-in-australia.org

Chinese students were by far the biggest economic contributors: a total of $12 million, followed by Indian students ($5.4 million), and Nepalese students ($2.6 million).


You can stay for a while longer after your studies

So why has Australia grown in popularity as a destination for international students? Well, there are a range of reasons that bring so many international students to Australia, including:

  • Australia’s universities are globally recognised as maintaining high standards of teaching and research. In fact, seven of Australia’s universities were ranked in the top 100 of the 2020 QS World University Rankings.
  • There's an opportunity to work alongside your studies, as you can work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector.
  • With a Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485), you can also choose to stay and work after your studies or graduation.
Student travelling to Australia to study

Studying in Canada

As one of the most desirable countries to study abroad in, Canada again has a number of draws that international students are attracted to – a culturally-diverse society, exciting cosmopolitan cities, and of course an excellent selection of renowned universities. In fact, seven of Canada’s universities were ranked in the top 200 of the 2020 QS World University Rankings. What’s more, Canada is home to some of the most popular cities to study abroad anywhere in the world, such as Toronto and Montreal.

So what else do you need to know about Canada’s international student population? Let’s find out.

Harvard University


Canada’s international student population reached an all-time high in 2021

Like a lot of other popular student countries, prior to the COVID pandemic, Canada saw a rapid rise in student mobility. In fact, in just a decade, the total international student population increased from 101,304 in 2009 to 318,153 in 2019.

In 2021, this number rose to an all-time high.

As of December 31st 2021, Canada’s total international student population reached

622,000 students

Source: www.cicnews.com

This currently makes it the third most popular place to study abroad – second only to the USA and UK.


Over half of Canada’s international student population are from just two countries

So what countries around the world are most attracted to studying abroad in Canada?

There are currently 75,768 Chinese students studying in Canada – that’s around 27.4% of the entire international student population. There are also 74,340 Indian students currently studying in Canada (26.6%).

According to UNESCO, over half


of Canada’s entire international student population come from China and India.


STEM subjects are a popular choice for Canada’s international students

STEM-related subjects continue to be super popular choices for Canada’s international students too.

Business-related studies are another popular choice of study for Canada. In 2018, 77,578 students were studying Business at universities across Canada. That was over one–third of Canada’s entire international student population at the time.

In fact, back in 2018,


of students studying the subjects of Mathematics, Computer, and Information Sciences were international.

Source: studying-in-canada.org

Studying in France

With its rich culture, prestigious universities, and top-quality educational expertise, France is another pretty popular destination for international study. In fact, the number of France’s international students has been rising for years now, but why? Let’s look at why student mobility continues to increase in France.

Harvard University

Observatory of the Sorbonne


France’s student population is rapidly growing

This number has been growing rapidly in recent years too. In fact, the number of students studying in France increased by 4.3% in just one year from 2019 to 2020.

According to Studying in France, there are currently over


international students


Morocco brings the highest number of French international students

So what source countries do French international students mostly come from? Well, the country that brings the highest number of international students is Morocco.

Morocco 41,729 Tunisia 13,025
Algeria 31,196 Senegal 12,475
China 28,436 UK 4,112
Italy 14,692 USA 6,442

Source: www.studying-in-france.org


Ile De France is the most popular region for international students

Despite international students choosing to study across all corners of France, there are certain regions that stand out as the most popular destinations. So what are the French hotspots for studying abroad? Where in France has the highest student population?

The most popular region is Ile De France – currently with 124,091 international students

This is followed by:

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes 46,772
Occitanie 32,650
Grand Est 31,185
Hauts-de-France 24,593


The majority of international students attend universities

There are, of course, various different types of institutions that international students can choose to study abroad. In France, the majority of students attend universities, rather than field-specific schools.

In fact, there are currently 246,890 international students studying in a French university – 66% of the entire French international student population.

This is followed by:

Schools of Business 36,790 students: 9%
Schools of Engineering 26,216 students: 7%
Schools of Art and Architecture 10,313 students: 2%


The field of studies is divided relatively evenly

Now that we know where French international students are studying, let's discuss what they’re studying.

The truth is, the subjects being studied by French international students are rather equally divided.

The top study choices are:

Science 31%
Social Sciences, Literature and Humanities 31%
Medicine 8%
Law 12%
Economics 18%

Source: www.studying-in-france.org

Harvard University

Other statistics: what else is interesting to know?

To finish up, let's take a look at a few more facts about studying abroad, and on what prospective international students elsewhere in the world tend to base their decisions on. What factors are most important when choosing where to study abroad?

Harvard University


Nearly half of Luxembourg’s students are international

According to OECD data (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Luxembourg has the highest percentage of international students across its total nationwide student population.

In fact, nearly half


of the total number of Luxembourg students were international.

Other countries with a high proportion of international students include:





New Zealand





Prospective Northern European students are most likely to prioritise language when deciding where to study abroad

Deciding on where to study abroad is a big decision for students. There are a range of different factors to take into account to ensure it’s the right destination. As expected, different countries, regions, and cultures around the world prioritise different things – whether it’s tuition fees, university rankings, proximity to home, and more.

However, there’s one factor that prospective Northern European students care most about when choosing their place to study in Europe – you’ve guessed it: language.

According to survey research carried out by Educations:


of students choosing to study in Northern Europe first decide on the right country of residence, secondly the course, and thirdly the university.


Prospective South American students are most likely to prioritise cost of living and making friends when deciding where to study abroad


of survey respondents choosing to study in South America cited the most important factors as the cost of living and affordability. Secondly, they care about the reputation and rankings of their university options.

Source: www.educations.com

Prospective South American students are also 45% more likely to care about making new friends when choosing their place of study. Plus, they are much more likely to consider the availability of local lifestyle and leisure activities.


Prospective Southeast Asian students are most likely to prioritise safety when deciding where to study abroad


of prospective Southeast Asian respondents are more likely to cite safety, friendliness, and the welcoming nature of the university and country as the most important factors.

Source: www.educations.com

In addition to study abroad safety statistics, students choosing to gain an international education in Southeast Asian countries also care about entry requirements.

Students spending time together


Western European students are most likely to prioritise exploring new cultures when deciding where to study abroad

Last but certainly not least, Western European students prioritise the different types of workplace opportunities that are available. They are also 19% more likely to care about experiencing new unique cultures as a form of personal development. Other important factors included making new friends and being able to obtain a post-study work visa.

To sum up

The number of students choosing to study abroad continues to rise significantly year on year.

Despite 2019-2020’s temporary COVID-related dip in the total number of global international students, student mobility has once again become a viable option for students all across the globe – wanting to enrich their studies and gain new educational and personal experiences overseas.

The USA continues to top the list of the most popular destinations to study abroad, closely followed by the UK and Canada – a country that’s only recently entered the top 10 most popular countries for international students.

Harvard University

The University of Utah

There are, of course, many differences between the number of outbound and inbound students across the top host and source countries. China and India are the top senders of outbound students, closely followed by Nepal.

Ultimately, the choice of where to study abroad is heavily influenced by individual circumstances, interests, and priorities. For example, Indian students might choose to study in the USA because of its long list of prestigious universities to choose from, while American students may choose to study in France for its culture and opportunity to learn the French language. After all, it’s all down to personal preferences and long- term education ambitions.

The selection process for choosing where to study abroad is a lengthy one. It simply can’t be rushed. This important life decision requires careful consideration and extensive research into the variety of options available to you.

Are you thinking about studying abroad but are unsure of where might be best? We hope our list of 50 facts and figures helped you gain a better understanding of what the most popular countries are – and how certain students made their big decisions.

Good luck in your future endeavours, wherever they may take you.

Harvard University
Globe Plane journey