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Enhancing Science Partnerships for Innovation and Sustainable Development


Event calendar for the month: August 2017

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Ambassador for the Year of Science

Science Network


International study – UNESCO indicates a growing number of students abroad

(c) Sebastian Bernhard (Pixelio)

According to the latest data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of higher-education students spending part of their studies abroad has increased by more than two thirds in the last ten years and has now reached 3.6 million. An interactive map of the world illustrates where students – including those from Germany and South Africa – are being drawn to.

Nowadays, courses of study are designed to be international and semesters abroad are a compulsory requirement in many fields. However, there are big contrasts when it comes to choosing a country to study in. The most popular destinations for study are the USA (19%), the UK (11%) and Australia (8%), followed by France (7%) and Germany (6%).

An interactive illustration of the flow of students published by UNESCO now makes a comprehensive comparison possible. In the case of South Africa for example, foreign students come almost exclusively from the African continent. Around half of all students from sub-Saharan Africa choose to spend their time abroad in South Africa. This makes the country a central magnet in the region and puts it in an impressive leading position for study and research.

The most popular countries in South Africa itself for foreign study are – in parallel with the international comparison – the USA, the UK and Australia. With 157 students, Germany comes seventh in the rankings, but is still the most popular destination in Europe after Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

German students are primarily attracted to study periods in neighbouring European countries, while the USA and Australia are also highly favoured. Germany itself is a main focal point for students from China, Turkey and Russia. (Data refers to 2010.)

If you would like to find out further interesting facts about the international flow of students, the model is available here on the UNESCO website.