Destinations of foreign students

Popular destinations

Top 10 countries for foreign student enrollment

Rank Destination country Foreign students (2018) Foreign students (2017) % change Top sending countries
1  United States 1,094,792 1,078,822 +1.48% China, India, South Korea
2  United Kingdom 506,480 501,045 +1.08% China, United States, Germany
3  China 489,200 442,773 +10.49% South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan
4  Australia 371,885 327,606 +13.52% China, India, Nepal
5  Canada 370,710 312,100 +18.78% China, India, South Korea
6  France 343,386 323,933 +6.01% Morocco, Algeria, China
7  Russia 313,089 296,178 +5.71% Kazakhstan, China, Uzbekistan
8  Germany 265,484 251,542 +5.54% China, India, Russia
9  Japan 188,384 171,122 +10.09% China, Vietnam, Nepal
10  Spain 109,522 94,962 +15.33% Italy, France, United States

Top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total foreign student enrollment 2015-2016

Rank Place of origin Number of students Percent of total
1  China 328,547 31.5%
2  India 165,918 15.9%
3  Saudi Arabia 61,287 5.9%
4  South Korea 61,007 5.8%
5  Canada 26,973 2.6%
6  Vietnam 21,403 2.1%
7  Taiwan 21,127 2.0%
8  Brazil 19,370 1.9%
9  Japan 19,060 1.8%
10  Mexico 16,733 1.6%

Total number of foreign students from all places of origin by field of study 2015-2016

Rank Field of Study Number of Students Percent of Total
1 Business and Management 200,312 19.2%
2 Engineering 216,932 20.8%
3 Other/Unspecified Subject Areas 185,107 17.7%
4 Mathematics and Computer Sciences 141,651 13.6%
5 Social Sciences 81,304 7.8%
6 Physical and Life Sciences 75,385 7.2%
7 Humanities 17,664 1.7%
8 Fine and Applied Arts 59,736 5.7%
9 Health Professions 33,947 3.3%
10 Education 19,483 1.9%
11 Agriculture 12,318 1.2%

By sending countries

The top 10 countries sending students to France in 2016 are listed below.[2]

Rank Country Number of Students Percent of Total
1  Morocco 28,012 12.4%
2  China 23,378 10.4%
3  Algeria 17,008 7.5%
4  Tunisia 9,403 4.2%
5  Italy 8,535 3.8%
6  Senegal 7,428 3.3%
7  Germany 6,338 2.8%
8  Spain 5,143 2.3%
9  Ivory Coast 4,620 2.0%
10  Cameroon 4,550 2.0%

The top 10 countries sending students to Germany in 2015 are listed below.[2]

Rank Country Number of Students Percent of Total
1  China 23,616 12.2%
2  Russia 9,953 5.1%
3  India 9,896 5.1%
4  Austria 9,574 4.9%
5  France 6,955 3.6%
6  Cameroon 6,301 3.2%
7  Bulgaria 6,293 3.2%
8  Ukraine 5,850 3.0%
9  Italy 5,657 2.9%
10  Poland 5,508 2.8%

Japan, Canada and New Zealand

Japan, Canada and New Zealand are perceived as evolving destinations for international students. In 2006, Japan, Canada and New Zealand together shared roughly 13% of the international student market, with approximately 327,000 of the 2.7 million students who traveled abroad for the purposes of higher education.[31] Japan has around 180 000 overseas students studying at its institutions and the government has set targets to increase this to 300, 000 over the next few years.[32] Canada has seen a large increase in the number of Indian students, where the number of Indian students rose 280% in 2010 compared to 2008.[33] Organizations such as Learnhub are taking advantage of this growing trend of Indian international students by providing recruitment services that bring Indian students abroad.[34] In 2012, in Canada 10 percent of university students were international students.[35] Canada accepted more than 100,000 international students for the first time,[36] bringing the total number of international students in Canada to 260,000,[37] which is nearly identical to that of Australia’s 280,000. Recent changes to Canada’s immigration regulations that came into effect on January 1, 2015 have placed international graduates from Canadian universities at a disadvantage. Under the new rules, foreign students who hold a degree or diploma from Canadian educational institutions will be treated on par with other groups of skilled workers.[38]

Malaysia, Singapore and India

Malaysia, Singapore and India are the emerging destinations for international students. These three countries have combined share of approximately 12% of the global student market with somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 students having decided to pursue higher education studies in these countries in 2005–2006.[31]

The flow of international students above indicates the South-North phenomenon. In this sense, students from Asia prefer to pursue their study particularly in the United States.

The recent statistics on mobility of international students can be found in;

  • The 2009 Global Education Digest (GED)[39] by UNESCO
  • International Flows of Mobile Students at the Tertiary Level[40] by UNESCO
  • Empowering People to Innovate – International Mobility[41] by OECD.

Requirements

Prospective foreign students are usually required to sit for language tests, such as Cambridge English: First,[42] Cambridge English: Advanced,[43] Cambridge English: Proficiency,[44] IELTS,[45] TOEFL,[46] iTEP,[47] PTE Academic,[48] DELF[49] or DELE,[50] before they are admitted. Tests notwithstanding, while some international students already possess an excellent command of the local language upon arrival, some find their language ability, considered excellent domestically, inadequate for the purpose of understanding lectures, and/or of conveying oneself fluently in rapid conversations. A research report commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators investigated the scope of third-party providers offerings intensive English preparation programs with academic credit for international students in the United States.[51] These pathway programs are designed to recruit and support international students needing additional help with English and academic preparation before matriculating to a degree program.

Student visa

Generally, foreign students as citizens of other countries are required to obtain a student visa, which ascertains their legal status for staying in the second country.[52] In the United States, before students come to the country, the students must select a school to attend to qualify for a student visa. The course of study and the type of school a foreign student plans to attend determine whether an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa is needed. Each student visa applicant must prove they have the financial ability to pay for their tuition, books and living expenses while they study in the states.[53]

Economic impact

Research from the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) shows the economic benefits of the increasing international higher-education enrollment in the United States. According to their 2013-2014 academic year analysis, international students have contributed $26.8 billion to the U.S economy and 340,000 jobs. This represents almost a 12% increase in dollars added to the economy and an 8.5% increase associated with job support and creation compared to the previous year. International students contribute more than job and monetary gains to the economy. NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson has stated that “[international students] bring global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and support U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework”.[54] According to NAFSA’s research, their diverse views contribute to technological innovation has increased America’s ability to compete in the global economy.

On the other hand, international students have faced suspicions of involvement in economic and industrial espionage.[55]

Challenges for foreign students in English-speaking countries

There is a trend for more and more students to go abroad to study in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia to gain a broader education.[citation needed] English is the only common language spoken at universities in these countries, with the most significant exception being Francophone universities in Canada. International students not only need to acquire good communication skills and fluent English both in writing and speaking, but also absorb the Western academic writing culture in style, structure, reference, and the local policy toward academic integrity in academic writing.[63] International students may have difficulty completing satisfactory assignments because of the difficulty with grammar and spelling, differences in culture, or a lack of confidence in English academic writing. Insightful opinions may lose the original meaning when transformed from the student’s native language to English. Even if international students acquire good scores in English proficiency exams or are able to communicate with native students frequently in class, they often find that the wording and formatting of academic papers in English-speaking universities are different from what they are used to due to certain cultural abstractions. Students who experience this discrepancy get lower scores of adaptability to new environment and higher scores about anxiety. Instead of the mood, students who were further away from home would be more willing to go back home and regress from their aims in life; this hardship can lead to depression. Partly this is due to the academic contagions of the foreign university like not integrating contrastive rhetoric aspect, low-support for adaptation like providing opportunities to better their English in a non-competitive and meaningful way.[64]

Most foreign students encounter difficulties in language use. Such issues make it difficult for the student to make domestic friends and gain familiarity with the local culture. Sometimes, these language barriers can subject international students to ignorance or disrespect from native speakers.[65] Most international students are also lacking a support groups in the country where they are studying. Although all colleges in North America that are in student exchange programs do have an International Student Office, it sometimes does not have resources and capability to consider their students’ individual needs when it comes to adapting to the new environment. The more a particular college has students coming from the same country the better the support is for getting involved in the new culture.[66]

Foreign students have several challenges in their academic studies at North American universities. Studies have shown that these challenges include several different factors: inadequate English proficiency; unfamiliarity with North American culture; lack of appropriate study skills or strategies; academic learning anxiety; low social self-efficacy; financial difficulties; and separation from family and friends.[67] Despite the general perception that American culture is characterized more by diversity than by homogeneity, the American ideology of cultural homogeneity has been alleged to imply an American mindset that because Eurocentric cultures are superior to others, people with different cultures should conform to the dominant monocultural canon and norms.[68]

U.S. colleges and universities have long welcomed students from China, where their higher-education system cannot meet the demand. 10 million students throughout China take the national college entrance test, competing for 5.7 million university slots. Because foreign undergraduates typically fail to qualify for U.S. federal aid, colleges can provide only limited financial help. Now, thanks to China’s booming economy in recent years, more Chinese families can afford to pay. U.S. colleges also face challenges abroad. Worries about fraud on test scores and transcripts make occasional headlines. And even Chinese students who test high on an English-language proficiency test may not be able to speak or write well enough to stay up to speed in a U.S. classroom, where essay writing and discussions are common.[69] Chinese international students face other challenges besides language proficiency. The Chinese educational structure focuses on exam-oriented education, with educational thinking and activities aimed towards meeting the entrance examination. Students become more stressed on exam performance, and teachers are inclined to focus on lecturing to teach students what may be on the test. In addition, “parents are also convinced that the more students listened to the lectures, the better they would score on the finals.”[70] With more than 304,040 Chinese students enrolled in the US in 2014/15, China is by far the leading source of international students at American universities and colleges; however, there are three waves of growth in Chinese students in the US. Each of the three waves differs in terms of needs and expectations and corresponding support services needed. Unfortunately, many higher education institutions have not adapted to the changing needs.[71] It is no surprise that many Chinese students are now questioning if it is worth investing in studying abroad.[72]

International students also face cross-cultural barriers that hinder their ability to succeed in a new environment.[73] For example, there are differences in terms of receiving and giving feedback, which influences academic engagement and even the job and internship search approach of international students.[74]

Plagiarism is the most serious offense in academia.[75] Plagiarism has two subtle forms, one of which includes the omission of elements required for proper citations and references.[76] The second form is unacknowledged use or incorporation of another person’s work or achievement. Violation of either form can result in a student’s expulsion. For the international students the word plagiarism is a foreign word.[77] Most of them are unfamiliar with American academic standards and colleges are not good about giving a clear definition of the word’s meaning. For example, many international students don’t know using even one sentence of someone else’s work can be considered plagiarism. Most colleges give students an E on their plagiarized assignments and future offenses often result in failing class or being kicked out of university.

Mental wellness

International students studying in a foreign country face a life altering event which can cause distress that can potentially affect their mental wellness.[78] Many students report homesickness and loneliness in their initial transition, experience isolation from peers and struggle with understanding cultural differences while staying abroad.[79] In certain cultures, mental illness is seen as a sign of weakness. Because of this, international students believe they can prevail through their struggles alone without help, which can lead to a decrease in mental wellness.[78]

There are two common symptoms among international students from China in particular: 45 percent of the students faced depression and 29 percent of the students faced anxiety.[80] Stressors that lead international students to struggle with anxiety are rooted in numerous causes, including academic pressures, financial issues, adapting to a new culture, creating friendships, and feelings of loneliness.[81] International students are also more likely to rely on peers for support through their transition than teachers or adult peers.[82] If the student is unable to make friends in their new environment, they will struggle more with their transition than an international student who has established relationships with their peers.[83]

International students also face language discrimination, which may exacerbate mental health symptoms.[83] Evidence has not conclusively shown that language discrimination is a greater risk factor than discrimination against foreigners.[83] However, there has not been any conclusive evidence to show whether language discrimination plays a significantly larger role than simple foreigner discrimination.[84]

Since international students are less likely to use individual counseling provided by the university.[85] and may experience even more intense stigmas against seeking professional help,[86] group-oriented ways of reaching students may be more helpful.[87] Group activities, like collaborative workshops and cultural exchange groups, can introduce a sense of community among the students.[88] In addition, efforts can be placed to improve awareness and accessibility to mental wellness resources and counseling services.[89] Social workers, faculty, and academic staff can be educated beforehand to provide an adequate support for them.[90]

Study abroad

Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a country other than one’s own.[91] This can include primary, secondary and post-secondary students. A 2012 study showed number of students studying abroad represents about 9.4% of all students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States[92][93] and it is a part of experience economy.[94][95]

Studying abroad is a valuable program for international students as it is intended to increase the students’ knowledge and understanding of other cultures. International education not only helps students with their language and communicating skills, but also encourages students to develop a different perspective and cross-cultural understanding of their studies which will further their education and benefit them in their career.[96][97] The main factors that determine the outcome quality of international studies are transaction dynamics (between the environmental conditions and the international student), quality of environment, and the student’s coping behavior.

Distinctions in classroom culture

Certain distinctions and differences can become sources of culture shock and cultural misunderstandings that can lead a student to inhibit adaptation and adjustment. For example, a key requirement in many foreign institutions is participation. Failure to participate in the classroom with faculty can be a serious obstacle to academic success and if it is coupled with the view that professors are to be held in awe, then the problem can be reflected in the grades given for class participation. Lack of participation can be interpreted by faculty as failure to learn the course content or disinterest in the topic. This is important since western education mostly requires students to go through double loop of learning where they have to re-frame their dispositions and form a framework of inner agency through reflective actions and practices with the guidance or learning experience obtained through the tutor for responding to professional situations or in complex situations (ambiguous and non-standardized situations), to be equipped with the right set of frameworks and skills for effective professional action.[98]

Some of the identified distinctions are:[99]

  • Semester system has three models: they are (1) the semester system comprising two terms, one in fall and one in winter/spring (summer term is not required); (2) the trimester system comprising three terms that includes summer (one of these terms can be a term of vacation); and (3) the quarter system comprising the four terms of fall, winter, spring, and summer, and in which the student can choose one of them to take as a vacation.
  • The schedule of the classes is a standard five-day week for classes, but the instruction hours in a week may be divided into a variety of models. Two common models of choice are Monday/Wednesday/Friday (MWF) and Tuesday/Thursday (TT) model. As a result, the class hours per week are the same, but the length of time per class for the MWF will be different from the TT.
  • Most foreign institutes value the ideologies of fairness and independence. These standards ensure the rights and responsibilities of all students, regardless of background. Most institutions that define the rights and responsibilities of their students also provide a code of conduct to guide their behavior, because independence and freedom come with responsibilities.
  • Certain immigration regulations allow international students to gain practical experience during their studies through employment in their field of study like an internship during study, and at other times for one year of employment after the student completes their studies. The eligibility factors are often disseminated through international students office at the college or university.
  • Faculty differ both in rank and by the duration of their contracts. (1) Distinguished teaching and research faculty hold the most honored rank among faculty. They typically have the doctoral degree and are usually tenured (i.e. on a permanent contract with the school until they retire) and record of their personal excellence accounts for their standing; (2) Emeritus professors are honored faculty who have retired from the university but continue to teach or undertake research at colleges and universities; (3) Full professors are also tenured and hold the doctoral degree. It is length of service and the support of departmental chairpersons, colleagues, and administrators that leads to the promotion to this rank; (4) Associate professors typically hold the doctoral degree and are the most recent to receive tenure; (5) Assistant professors may or may not yet have their doctoral degrees and have held their teaching or research posts for less than seven years; (6) Instructors are usually the newest faculty. They may or may not hold the doctoral degree and are working towards tenure; (7) Adjunct professors and visiting professors may hold professorial rank at another institution. They are not tenured (usually retained on a year by year contract) and they are often honored members of the university community.
  • Most institutes that accept international students have faculty who are leaders that can integrate the best elements of teacher-centered and learner centered pedagogical styles that integrates and leads students of every background to a path of success. They are careful not to obstruct a student with their own personality or achievements and maintain a resourceful, open and supportive “holding environment”. Simplified, meaningful resource dissemination and engaging students in participatory and active learning is the key to this mixed learning. Lack of skill in handling such pedagogical methods might result in straining the students (taking classes in a faster pace disregarding the quality and quantity of the information transferred, which translates as lack of internal agency to make students learn meaningful content by being an educational agent – lack of teacher agency[100]) and at other instances downgrade into a liberal laissez-faire style which might negatively affect students’ performance. The skill of the tutor is exemplified in many forms one such as when they are able to keep some students from dominating (attention seeking, disruptive or disrespectful) and to draw in those who are reticent in a participatory section.
  • Students are expected to know the content of their courses from the class website (structure of the course, frame of reference, jargon) and to think independently about it and to express their own perspectives and opinions in class and in their written work. Open disagreement is a sign of violent intentions in certain cultures and in other cultures it is merely expressing one’s opinion; this aspect can be challenging if proper people skills are absent in the group and group development is not given importance. Similar is the case with asking questions: in certain classroom cultures it is tolerated to ask vague questions and this is interpreted as a sign of interest from the student whereas in other cultures asking vague questions is a display of ignorance in public that results in loss of face and embarrassment, even if this behavior is counterproductive for a learning environment, it is largely dependent upon the transaction dynamics in classroom cultures. There are also certain institutes and cultures that disallow student discussion at certain topics and keep limitations to what can be discussed and punitive means for deterring from topics that shouldn’t be discussed.[101] But often direct communication is considered vital for academic survival.
  • Foreign university programs differ from structured programs of universities in certain countries. In each quarter the student is given choice to select the courses they deem important to them for gaining credits. There is no proportion for the number of courses that a student can take in each term; however, program fees paid at a single time can lead to fees deduction in each quarter. In general, students are not recommended to take many courses at a time as they require to gain a certain number of credits to pass a quarter which is dependent upon the grades that they obtain from the courses, and these credits have little to do with the actual credit hours spent for each courses. For the courses students have to pre-register as they are not automatically assigned. Though it is an open structure for course selections, students might be required to take certain compulsory courses for the program as maintained by departments for degree standardization.
  • Foreign institutions differ in their requirement of the content that a student is required to be familiarized with, and this difference is identifiable in programs which have similar objectives and structures of different universities. Some may be professionally oriented and thus give importance to depth in certain areas, and some might be for providing a breadth of knowledge on the subject. Commonly, some institutes might require the student to master the essentials of a subject as a whole, while others might require the student to master large quantities of content on the subject which might not seem practical in a framework of short period of time (An example is 10,000-Hour Rule).[102] More accessible institutions provide a syllabus of their previous and current programs and courses for better pre- and post- program communication.
  • Classroom etiquette may differ from institute to institute. In western institutes the old standard of practice for students to address faculty is by their last name and the title “Professor”, but it is not uncommon for faculty to be on a first-name basis with students today. However, it is a good etiquette to check with the faculty member before addressing him or her by their first name only. Both students and faculty often dress very informally, and it is not unusual for faculty to roam the classroom while talking or to sit on the edge of a table in a very relaxed posture. Relaxed dress and posture are not, however, signs of relaxed standards of performance. Sometimes faculty, administrators, and even staff may sometimes hold receptions or dinners for their students. In that case, students should ask what the dress should be for the occasion; sometimes students will be expected to wear professional dress (suit coat and tie for men, and a suit or more formal dresses for women). Faculty would not care even if they elicit the need of participation in the classroom or are personally involved with students; even if they engage students in frameworks/styles the student might understand the topic. This is because the faculty-student relationship is considered to be professional. Relationships in the West are most often determined by some kind of function. Here the function is guidance, education and skill development.
  • In occidental institutions students are evaluated in many ways, including exams, papers, lab reports, simulation results, oral presentations, attendance and participation in classroom discussion. The instructors use a variety of types of exams, including multiple choice, short answer, and essay. Most adept instructors provide guides or models of assignment construction, framing and asking questions about how to prepare for their exams. Most students are expected to be creative in presentation (to avoid similarity in paper submissions), systematic in formatting (citation: Style guide) and invested for drawing and providing positive individualism to the group/class (group purpose, role identity for autonomy, positive thinking, value oriented responsible self-expression, etc. vs. attendant selfishness, alienation, divisiveness, etc.) aligned with the common development objective.
  • Relationships are an important part of the foreign academic experience and for healthy social support. Relationships with faculty (instructors and academic advisors) are very important for academic success and for bridging the cultural gap. But in off-campus venues, the student can appreciate their life outside of campus, and every time they view one another as individuals, avoid asking favors that can affect teacher-student comfort zones and expect cautiousness from them in an attempt to avoid notions of favoritism and friendliness to break down barriers of role and culture.

A key factor in international academic success is learning approaches that can be taken on a matter from one another and simultaneously assimilating inter-cultural experiences.

(Source : Wikipedia)