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Scholar's Career GuidesTop 10 Most Popular Study Abroad Countries for Global Students

Top 10 Most Popular Study Abroad Countries for Global Students


In search of countries to study abroad, students across the world look for the most popular study abroad countries because of the feeling that these countries has a better education system and higher employment opportunities waiting for them while studying or after graduation amongst other perceived benefits.

These benefits affects the choices of a place to study and the more the population of international students, the popular the country becomes. 

Here we’re going to look at the most popular study abroad countries, an overview of why the mentioned countries are that popular as well as their educational system.

The list below are the 10 most popular study abroad countries and it was compiled based on their educational system and the reasons that influenced choices of international students. These reasons includes their safe and friendly environments, and their ability to play host to the best universities in the world.

Top 10 Most Popular Study Countries by number of International Students:

  • USA – 1.25 million Students.
  • Australia – 869,709 Students.
  • Canada – 530,540 Students.
  • China – 492,185 Students.
  • United Kingdom – 485,645 Students.
  • Germany – 411,601 Students.
  • France – 343,000 Students.
  • Japan – 312,214 Students.
  • Spain – 194,743 Students.
  • Italy – 32,000 Students.

1. United States of America

The United States has the highest number of international students studying in it, with a population of 1,095,299 international students in total.

There are a lot of reasons why students from around the world choose the United States of America thus making it one of the popular study destinations. Amongst these reasons are the flexible academic system and a multicultural environment.

US universities offer courses at different majors as well as many orientation programs, workshops and training in order to facilitate international students experience. Also US universities are ranked in the top 100 best universities in the world. Lately, Harvard has been ranked the first in the list of Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2021 for the fourth year in a row. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been positioned in the second place, whereas Yale University ranked the third.

Having to gain a lot of experience both academically and socially is another reason why the US is chosen mostly by international students. Having a little bit of everything ranging from mountains, seas, deserts and beautiful cities.

It has variety of institutions that accept international applicants, and students can always find the program right for them. There is always a choice for students to choose between areas and cities that have different things to offer.

There are cities to study in the United States of America at low costs as well.

International Students Population: 1.25 million.

2. Australia

Australia is global leader in education and a country that supports diversity and multiculturalism. Thus it’s community welcomes individuals from all backgrounds, race and tribe. 

This country has the highest percentage of international students relative to it’s overall student body. Due to the fact that in this country, there are a vast number of school courses and programs. You can study literally any program you think of.

This country also has first-rate universities and colleges. This is a major reason why international students pick this country to study in.

As an addition bonus, tuition fees are relatively low, lower than any other English speaking country in the region.

International Students Population: 869,709.

3. Canada

Canada is among the most peaceful study nations in the world by the Global Peace Index, and because of the peaceful environment, international students migrate to this country.

Not only does Canada has a peaceful environment, the Canadian community is welcoming and friendly, treating both international students the same way as local students. The government of Canada government also supports international students in various professions such as telecommunication, medicine, technology, agriculture, sciences, fashion, art etc.

One notable reason for this country to be listed as one of the most popular study abroad countries is because international students are allowed to live and work in Canada for up to three years after graduation, and this happens under the supervision of the Canada’s Post Graduation Work Permit Program (PWPP). And not only do students get permitted to work after graduation, they are also allowed to work for up to 20 hours in a week, during a semester during their study time.

International Students Population: 530,540.

4. China

Chinese universities are included in the global rankings of the world best universities. This shows you the quality of education this country offers students and at a significantly cheaper cost making this country one of the popular study abroad countries and a top choice among students who wants to study abroad.

A statistics that came out in 2018 showed that there were around 490,000 international students at China who were nationals of nearly 200 different countries and regions worldwide. Recently a survey was carried out and according to Project Atlas data, the number has just increased in the past year with 492,185 international students in total.

It would be interesting to know that Chinese universities also offer partially and fully-funded scholarships, most of which are allocated for language studies, for both Master and PhD levels, making China one of the countries that offers scholarships in the above levels.

For the first time in the history of Chinese universities, Tsinghua University became the first Asian university to be ranked among the top 20 best universities in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 (THE).

In addition to the quality of education being a reason for the trooping to China, this Chinese speaking country has a booming economy, fast growing that it could be able to beat that of the US in the coming years. This puts China among the popular countries to study and is rushed to by international students from all over the world.

International Students Population: 492,185.

5. United Kingdom

UK is known to be the second most visited country by international students. With a population of 500,000, the UK has a wide range of high quality universities. Although there is no fixed cost of fees as it varies across institutions and can be fairly high, it is worth seeking out scholarship opportunities while studying in the UK.

This popular study abroad country has a rich variety of cultures and a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who wishes to study in the English country.

The education system of UK is flexible in such a way that a student can work to support their studies.

Being an English country, communication isn’t hard and this makes students troop into the country making it one of the most popular study abroad countries today.

Also it is worthy to know that universities in the United Kingdom are listed among the best universities in the world and have a great reputation among international students.

Just recently, the Oxford University ranked first in the list of Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings, for the fifth year in a row. Whereas, the University of Cambridge ranked third.

International Students Population: 485,645.

6. Germany

There are three reasons why this country is at the top spot in our list of the most popular study abroad countries as well as loved by international students. Aside their perfect educational system, one of these reasons is their low tuition fees.

Some German Universities do not charge for tuition fees making students enjoy free education particularly in government funded schools.

Most of the courses and degree programs are without tuition fees. But there is an exception to this and it comes in the Master’s program. The public universities charge tuition for this program but they are relatively lower than that of other European countries you know. 

Another reason for the selection of Germany is their affordable living costs. This is an additional bonus if you are a student because you’d have to pay lower entrance fees to buildings such as theaters and museums. Expenses are affordable and reasonable compared to other European countries. Rent, Food and other expenses are approximately the same as the EU average cost as a whole.

The third but not the least reason is the beautiful nature of Germany. Having a rich historical heritage and full of natural wonders and modern metropolis beautiful for the eyes to behold, international studies use this as an opportunity to enjoy Europe.

International Students Population: 411,601.

7. France

France is a wonderful option if you’re in need to gain a world-class education at a cheap price. Although tuition fees in France is cheap, in fact one of Europe’s cheapest, the quality of education is not affected by this at all.

It would be nice to know that tuition fees in France are the same for domestic and international students, estimated around €170 (US$200) per year for bachelor’s (licence) programs, €243 (US$285) for most master’s programs, and €380 (US$445) for doctoral programs. Fees are higher at the highly selective grandes écoles and grands établissements (private institutions), which fix their own tuition fees.

To show how great Frances education system is, It produced some of the world’s most influential scientists, artists, architects, philosophers, and designers.

As well as hosting great tourist cities like Paris, Toulouse, and Lyon, many students fall in love with France seeing it as a gateway to the whole of Europe.

Living costs is highest in the capital, Paris, but it is worth this extra cost as Paris has been named the world’s number one student city four times in a row (and currently stands at fifth).

Also in France, language is no issue because you can study in France in English, as this country has majority of English-taught programs found at postgraduate level.

International Students Population: 343,000.

8. Japan

Japan is a very clean country with an interestingly rich and vast culture. The education quality of Japan has made it to be ranked in the list of the top 10 countries having an excellent education system. Coupled with it’s advanced higher education institutions, Japan is one of the choicest study destinations for international students.

Safety is a the big reason why Japan is chosen by students and is considered one of the most popular study abroad countries for students.

Japan is one of the safest country to live in, with good health insurance system and is a very welcoming country for people from different cultures. According to the Japan Student Services Organization, there has been an increase in number of international students in Japan was and below is the current number.

International Students Population: 312,214.

9. Spain

Spain has a total of 74 universities and this Spanish country has an advanced educational system that is emulated in some nations of the world. To study in Spain, you as a student would be exposed to a lot of opportunities that would help you grow professionally.

In addition to the most popular cities Madrid and Barcelona, international students in Spain have the opportunity to explore and enjoy other beautiful parts of Spain, especially in the countryside.

Another reason why international students love to study in Spain is the fact that they would have an opportunity to learn the Spanish language, which is among the three most spoken languages in the world. 

Tuition fees in Spain is affordable and living costs depends on the location of the student.

International Students Population: 194,743.

10. Italy

Many international Students choose Italy over other study abroad countries which earns the country the 5th spot in our list as one of the most popular study abroad countries. There are several reasons that makes the country so popular and the first choice for students who want to study abroad coming from different parts of the world.

Firstly, the education in Italy is of high quality, playing host to a large number of educational programs in many courses ranging from arts, design, architecture and engineering. Also Italian universities has worked on research in the areas of solar technology, astronomy, climate change and so on.

The country is known as the center of the Renaissance and so popular for it’s amazing food, wonderful museums, art, fashion and more. Around 32,000 international students pursue studies in Italy, including independent students as well as those coming through exchange programs.

Italy has a crucial role in the higher education sector with the well-known “Bologna Reform”, and universities performing excellently among the world university rankings.

In addition to these advantages listed above, international students get to learn the Italian language, which is listed as one of the official languages of the European Union and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Italy also has some tourist cities such as the Vatican where international students visit to view some historical monuments and places. 

International Students Population: 32,000.

Check out the Benefits of studying abroad for students.


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