Most Popular Study Destinations for International Students


A new report gave an insight into the latest trends in the preferences and motivations of international students. The study was conducted and published by QS Top Universities and it includes a ranking of the most popular study destinations and subjects for international students.

Among the main discoveries made by the research is that international students are now open to a larger scope of study destinations. Even though the main spots are again taken by English-speaking countries, the report states that they have started to lose their monopoly. They are now challenged by other countries, like Germany, which are gaining more popularity among international students.

In addition, the financial side of education is one of the main factors that are concerning students today. They were found to show more interest in information concerning their financial aid and study costs. Nevertheless, their focus most on their post-graduate employment options and prospects. More and more international students choose their speciality based on whether or not it can offer them career growth.

When it comes to selecting an education institution or a country, the majority of international students shared that international recognition plays a key role in that. In other words, they prefer to go to a world-known university or college or to study in a country that offers good quality of life and opportunities.

Student’s expectations are quite high and positive. For instance, most of them were confident that in 10 years, they would have their own company (24%) or be at least a director (17%) or a CEO (15%) of a large-sized business. Also, nearly 18% of them had the ambition to make over $100,000 a year.

As it was mentioned earlier, English-speaking countries continue to occupy top positions on the list of most popular study destinations. The ranking is led by the U.S., followed by the U.K. (2) and Canada (1). Australia landed on the fifth spot after Germany witnessed a growth of nearly 9%. This is the biggest jump on the list. In addition, international students were found to be more willing to head to countries located within their own region or continent.

Top 10 Study Destinations

  • U.S.
  • U.K.
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Spain

Top 10 Motivations and Priorities

  • International recognition of qualifications
  • Cultural interest & lifestyle
  • Scholarship/financial aid availability
  • Post-graduate opportunities
  • Location of target school
  • Improve language skills
  • Network creation
  • Visa situation
  • Proximity to current location
  • Family connections

The most popular subjects, on the other hand, were the so-called FAME subjects. They include finance, accounting, management, economics, administration and other related subjects. Although they managed to preserve their top place, their popularity has registered a slight decrease over the last half a decade. Second most popular are STEM subjects, like science, technology, education and mathematics. Unlike FAME, STEM saw a rise over the last one year.


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