Forecast of the Growth of the Higher Education Sector in China

Title: A Comprehensive Overview of International Student Mobility Forecast for 2050

The demand for higher education abroad is predicted to continue surging in China, and the number of Chinese higher education students is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels during this decade and beyond. By 2030, the total direct spending worldwide by international students is projected to more than double pre-pandemic levels, and Chinese students are among the top spenders based on population and ability to consume. Previous analyses projected global mobility for higher education to expand from 5 million students pre-pandemic to as many as 8 million students abroad by 2030, yet evidence suggests this forecast was too conservative.

By forming a prediction based on these clear trends, it can be expected that an additional one billion higher education graduates will be added through 2050, with 75% of these students coming from Asia and Africa. Analysis shows that most of these students will seek an English-taught degree or qualification program, and universities in the UK, US, Australia, and Canada will be best placed to meet their needs.

The “big four” higher education destinations, comprising the UK, US, Australia, and Canada, have collectively maintained a steady share of over 37% of internationally mobile students since 2000, accounting for up to 80% of direct spending by international students worldwide. However, the US has seen its share dip by approximately 15% since 2000, compared to the UK, Australia, and Canada.

On account of the dramatic growth expected in international student numbers this decade, a significant expansion of direct spending on international education is forecasted, with total student spending projected to more than double by the end of this decade, based on pre-pandemic levels.

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