Student mobility growth to drop 4% over ten years

International student mobility will likely slow down in the next ten years due to a mix of demographic shifts and increased domestic offerings, a new British Council research paper has found. The British Council report crunched United Nation/UNESCO data from 56 higher education markets in collaboration with Oxford Economics.

It found that the annual growth for global outbound students is projected to average at 1.7 percent to 2027, dropping from 5.7 in the period 2000-2015.

This is mainly due to shrinking tertiary-aged populations and local investment in higher education.

The report warns that local investment in higher education is one of the major forces reshaping global mobility patterns – creating new destination countries that will challenge the traditional ones.

The majority of countries analysed are projected to experience growth in tertiary enrolments, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

But while outbound mobility from China and India will continue growing – and account for 60% of global growth by 2027 – other countries will see a decline in outbound students.

These include countries such as South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore, which are in the top 10 source markets for traditional destination countries such as the US and the UK.

Transnational education is one way institutions can engage, but there are many others: research collaborations, online learning, corporate partnerships, lifelong learning and foundation progams are just a few in a long list.

The UK is at a disadvantage given its current visa policy and the emergence of diverse and attractive offers from new higher education destinations.

Among these new higher education destinations are countries in Europe and Asia offering English-medium degrees.