Thursday 10 December 2015


Despite attracting the highest numbers of international students, the US and the UK can expect to see their market share decrease over the next decade as provision of education in traditional origin countries increases, says new British Council research.

‘The shape of international education to 2025’ examines the landscape of global higher education through the next decade by forecasting, in cooperation with Oxford Economics, demand for higher education based on household wealth and tertiary-aged populations.  These projections are supplemented by a study of the academic, economic, sociocultural and political factors that impact student mobility.

Based on household wealth and population projections, China and India will continue to be the top suppliers of international students globally in 2025, followed by Nigeria, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Also sending large numbers of students abroad will be France, Turkey, South Korea and Pakistan.

 By 2025 India will have the largest 18 to 22 year old population, followed by China, Indonesia and Nigeria, which is projected to see the highest increase in its tertiary-aged population out of the top ten fastest growing 18 to 22 year old populations,from roughly 16 million in 2012 to 23 million in 2025.

  Professor Rebecca Hughes, Director of Education at the British Council said:

  “These findings will help support the UK sector's efforts to diversify away from the current countries which have dominated our recruitment efforts for some time, important though these will remain. We know how important student flows are for the resilience of the sector and what a huge asset these students are in terms of future networks of influence for each institution and for the UK as a whole.

  “It is exciting to see new confidence and predicted growth in several emerging nations where demographics, an aspirational middle class, and fluency in English or a European language are working in tandem. We look forward to supporting the sector through our high level analyses, horizon scanning, and our services to individual institutions.”

The report also finds there will be strong growth in demand for higher education in Brazil and Indonesia, and argues that as education markets in Asia strengthen and African markets flourish, diversification in internationalisation strategies is essential.

Zainab Malik, Research Director, Education Intelligence, and report author, said:

“As the landscape of higher education becomes increasingly complex, global engagement and diversification are paramount.  Shifting market conditions, such as the growth of the middle class in Asia and the expansion of the African youth population, have the potential to transform the nature of international education. Advances in worldwide provision, too, will impact UK market share of international students, as emerging host destinations strive to offer attractive options not only for home students but international students globally.”

“Young people have an increasing number of study options and the UK faces a challenge in reaching students who may have previously considered the UK but are now choosing to stay closer to home.” added Malik.

Russia, South Korea, Germany, Italy and Japan are forecast to experience declines in tertiary enrolment levels due to weak demographic projections between 2012 and 2025. As a result, many of these countries have implemented national policies to promote international education.

The research concludes that as growing wealth in Asia, alongside a burgeoning middle class, drives the global economy, the tremendous change in key youth populations is pivotal in predicting demand for tertiary education in the next decade.




Notes to Editor

Journalists can contact the press office for a copy of the report. 

For more information please contact Nicola Norton, Senior Press Officer, British Council, 0207 389 4889 or

The report will be presented at the British Council’s Services for International Education Marketing Conference, held this year in Edinburgh.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. 

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