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One may say the future cannot be predicted, however analysing current trends and foreseeing possible future patterns in international postgraduate mobility is a good way to help universities, institutions and other education decision-makers to plan policies and recruitment strategies. At this regard, ‘Postgraduate student mobility trends to 2024’ is a new report published by the British Council that attempts some interesting forecasts on student mobility flows for the next decade. Predictions are made by examining historical trends and demographic and economic data for 23 origin countries and 6 destination countries (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Japan).
Among the top destination countries, the US is in absolute terms the one set to be the fastest-growing destination for international postgraduate students over the next decade, with an increase of 154 000 students expected by 2024, followed by the UK with an increase of 83 000, Australia with 42 000 and Germany with 39 000. If we look instead at the annual average growth rate, it is instead Australia and Canada those who are expected to have the highest rate of international postgraduate students (4.1% each) while the slowest growing nations are expected to be Japan and the UK.
Considering origin countries, undoubtedly China and India are dominating the UK and US markets respectively. By 2024, China is expected to account for 44% of growth in international postgraduate students going to study in the UK while over half (54%) of the US’ growth in international postgraduate students is expected to come from India. Given that it is ideally not desirable to have only one single country driving the growth and composition of the incoming postgraduate body, institutions and policy makers are suggested to open up to a greater diversification in order counterbalance their dependence on Chinese and Indian postgraduates. Explicit reference is made to attracting more students from other expanding economies where growth rate of internationally mobile postgraduate students is especially high, such as Nigeria (+8.3%), India (+7.5%), Indonesia (+7.2%), Pakistan (+6.4%) and Saudi Arabia (+5.2%).