Skip to main content

As we wrap up our series on global migration trends, we turn to the academic realm: international students. With the US, Germany, and the UK traditionally leading the pack, emerging nations are reshaping the academic migration map. In this finale, we’ll delve into the key push and pull factors influencing student choices and how policy shifts are creating new academic hubs. From world-renowned institutions to evolving migration policies, let’s explore what’s defining the future of international education.


International Students

The United States, Germany, and the UK top the student ranking, correlating with their strong university reputations. English-speaking countries dominate, but smaller countries like Norway are competitive due to low to zero tuition fees for international students and beneficial policies. Germany and Norway, in particular, offer an increasing number of English-taught programs.

Policies related to labour market access and post-graduation stay conditions have become pivotal in recent times, with countries like the US, UK, Germany, and others making substantial amendments. A significant rise in Japan’s ranking is attributed to improved conditions for international students. Conversely, Finland and France experienced a drop after introducing higher tuition fees for foreign students.


Push Factors for International Students:

  • Local Educational Gaps: Some students face barriers like limited course options, outmoded syllabuses, and inadequate research facilities, especially at higher academic levels.
  • Financial Hurdles: Without adequate scholarships or affordable education options, many potential students are priced out of quality education in their home countries.
  • Lack of Global Recognition: A degree should be a passport to global opportunities. When it isn’t, students look elsewhere.


Pull Factors for International Students:

  • World-renowned Institutions: The lure of globally acclaimed institutions is strong. They promise not just quality education but a global network and a respected brand attached to one’s CV.
  • Cultural Diversity: For many students, the university experience is about more than lectures. It’s about encountering a rich tapestry of cultures and ideas, broadening one’s horizons.
  • Career Springboard: Studying in countries with influential industries can offer direct pathways into the global job market.


The US, Germany, and the UK continue to attract students, but policy shifts worldwide are constantly reshuffling the deck of preferred destinations.


Policy Implications

To enhance their global appeal, national policymakers need to consider a holistic approach. Beyond visa and admission policies, other key factors such as family reunification, ease of transition from temporary to permanent status, etc. play an instrumental role.

A simulation suggests that modifying migration policies can considerably reduce the attractiveness gap for most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Adopting a lenient migration framework could help countries like Japan, Korea, and Israel significantly improve their standings. Yet, for nations at the bottom of the rankings, even the most favourable policies might not suffice to bridge the gap entirely.

While favourable migration policies play a pivotal role, comprehensive reforms addressing socio-economic and educational parameters are essential for countries to position themselves as preferred destinations in the global talent race.



Contact Us