Of all continents, Europe is the most popular and hosts the most international students, concluded the OESO in their rapport Education at a Glance 2012 which was published last month. The Netherlands holds a solid place in the top 20 of most popular countries for international students worldwide.


The amount of students enrolled in a foreign country has increased dramatically with 99 % in the past ten years, from 2.1 million in 2000 to 4.1 million in 2010. This significant increase can mainly be explained by the internationalization of the labor market, states the OESO. The labor market increasingly demands highly skilled individuals, which stimulates people to gain experience abroad during their studies. The overall increase in foreign students is in line with the rise in overall students worldwide, concludes the OESO rapport. There has been a 77 % increase from 77 million students in 2000 to 177 million students in 2010.

Europe most popular

Europe hosts a significant 41 % of all international students globally, concludes the OESO. The largest part of the students chooses one of the European Union countries. North-America comes in second best, with 21 % of all international students. However, although Europe has the most international students it is not the fastest growing destination. Especially Australia and New-Zealand are regions which have become very popular over the last few years among students.  

Well-liked Luxembourg

Luxembourg has the highest number of foreign students enrolled in their educational system. According to OESO, this is mainly due to the tight connections with their neighboring countries and thus, sturdy integration and mobility. Also, Australia, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand are among the countries with the highest percentages of international students.

Countries of origin

Overall, the majority of international students are from China, India and Korea. Together, they make up more than half (52 %) of all foreign students who study abroad. After the Asians, the Europeans (21 %) are most keen on studying abroad. Students from Latin America are most hesitant and only account for 3.3 % of the total amount of foreign students, according to the OESO.

Netherlands in top 20

For every Dutch student choosing to study abroad, the Netherlands gets 2.5 international students back. The OESO argues that this is lower than the global average of 2.9 international students for every native student studying abroad. Nonetheless, 1.2 % of all foreign students choose to study in the Netherlands in 2010 which results in a solid place within the top 20 most popular countries among international student. NdB