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In the reference year of the publication 2015/16, there were about 5 million international students worldwide, of which 3.5 million studied in OECD countries. This is a considerable increase from 1998 on, when the number in OECD countries was close to 1.5 million, and the worldwide number nearly 2 million. Students at Bachelor level accounted on average for under 5% of the total student population, but shares were much higher in Austria, Luxemburg and New Zealand, at over 15%. The OECD-wide average at Master level was over 10%. Ph.D. students constituted a much higher proportion of all doctoral students. The highest shares were found in Switzerland (55%) and Luxemburg (85%). Among large countries, the US led with around 40%. Discipline-wise, international students were concentrated in the STEM subject areas (one third), as well as in business, management and law.
In terms of destination, the US remained the largest single ‘importer’ of international students, at 971,000. English-speaking countries had the upper hand overall, with the UK at 432,000, Australia at 336,000 and Canada at 189,000. The EU attracted about 1.6 million students.