Press Release

A New Book from the Institute of International Education Examines National Strategies in Six World Regions that Impact Global Student Mobility

Report Presents Strategies and Policies from 17 Countries

NEW YORK, March 28, 2011—The last decade’s unprecedented growth in global student mobility is changing higher education policies around the world, according to a new book from the Institute of International Education (IIE). Student Mobility and the Internationalization of Higher Education: National Policies and Strategies from Six World Regions, available for purchase at IIEBooks, provides an extensive look at what 17 countries are doing at the national, institutional and university level to attract more international students to their higher education institutions and to send more of their students abroad.

According to OECD, over 3.3 million students are currently studying outside of their own country, a 65 percent increase since 2000. While international mobility among students and scholars is not a new phenomenon, new trends have emerged in the last decade and continue to shape a rapidly changing landscape in international higher education. To assess these dynamic trends, Student Mobility and the Internationalization of Higher Education draws upon the members of Project Atlas®, a unique global community of host country partner organizations and research affiliates organized by IIE ten years ago with funding from the Ford Foundation.

Today Project Atlas represents 21 national-level governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations engaged in international education research and exchange, sharing harmonized and current data on student mobility. The project is currently supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and each member organization.

Student Mobility and the Internationalization of Higher Education is divided into six sections by world region: Sub-Saharan Africa, The Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Middle East/North Africa. Each of the country reports is authored by a Project Atlas partner, reflecting their in-depth knowledge of that country’s internationalization strategies: the chapters include reviews of current polices and the most recent student mobility data.

The book begins with an introduction by IIE’s Deputy Vice President of Research and Evaluation, Rajika Bhandari, and concludes with a comprehensive look at the internationalization efforts of various countries and higher education systems, as documented by the 3rd Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education, conducted by the International Association of Universities (IAU), based in Paris.

Some regional trends highlighted and expanded upon in the book include:

  • Africa: The number of students studying in Africa from outside of the region is much smaller than the number of outbound African students. Among African countries, South Africa is the leading host destination. 
  • The Americas: After Europe, the Americas host the largest number of international students, but have a low outbound mobility ratio compared to other world regions.
  • Asia: While many countries in the region have experienced “brain drain” in the past, a number of Asian countries have recently emerged as important higher education destinations, attracting large numbers of students from within the region and from Europe and North America. 
  • Europe: Some European countries are prioritizing the retention of local talent, while others aim to continue to internationalize universities by recruiting students from Europe and other regions.
  • Oceania: In Australia and New Zealand, the largest host countries in the region, the enrollment of international students as a percentage of total higher education enrollments is the highest in the world.
  • Middle East/North Africa: Today, the Middle East is the leading host region of branch campuses of foreign universities, and has seen the opening of new world-class institutions.

“This report makes an important contribution to the field at a time of intense growth and change in international education. IIE is grateful to the members of Project Atlas for joining us in this initiative,” says IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman. “As our countries become more interdependent and our challenges ever-more global, we must understand where our students are moving and what opportunities they need to become the leaders who will find solutions together.”

The book focuses on the internationalization policies and strategies that ultimately drive mobility numbers for each host and sending country. “Many traditional hosts are formalizing the link between higher education and the skilled job market by implementing policies that encourage international graduates to enter the workforce of the host country, especially in scientific and technical fields,” says Rajika Bhandari, IIE’s Deputy Vice President for Research and Evaluation and a co-editor of the book.

At the other end of the spectrum, countries that were primarily “sending” countries have now also developed their own internationalization strategies to attract foreign students and encourage international educational exchange. Student Mobility and the Internationalization of Higher Education explores these complexities and their impact on higher education around the world.

Project Atlas

Project Atlas was launched in 2001 with support from the Ford Foundation and is now supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and the participating organizations in each country. The goal of this collaborative global project is to share accurate and timely data on student mobility at the higher education level, addressing the need for improved research on academic migration and comparability of mobility data among leading host and sending countries. The project’s website—the Atlas of Student Mobility—highlights country-level data provided by national academic mobility agencies around the world. This data collection and dissemination project represents an important effort to better understand international student mobility and to examine the broader implications of student migration globally rather than through a narrow national lens.

Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 18 offices worldwide and over 1,100 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. 

Student Mobility and the Internationalization of Higher Education: National Policies and Strategies from Six World Regions


Table of Contents

National Strategies and Global Student Mobility: An Introduction

By Rajika Bhandari, Institute of International Education (IIE)

Reports from 17 countries in six world regions
Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa: International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA)   

The Americas

Canada: Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE)

Mexico: National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ANUIES)

United States: Institute of International Education (IIE)   


China: China Scholarship Council (CSC)

India: Association of Indian Universities (AIU) 

Japan: Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)   


Finland: Centre for International Mobility (CIMO)

France: CampusFrance   

Germany: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Ireland: Education Ireland

Netherlands: Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC) 

Spain: Fundación 

Sweden: Swedish Institute 

United Kingdom: British Council


Australia: Australian Education International (AEI) 

New Zealand: New Zealand Ministry of Education

Middle East and North Africa

By Raisa Belyavina, Institute of International Education (IIE) and Adnan El-Amine, Lebanese Association for Educational Studies (LAES)

How International Are the World’s Institutions? Key Findings of the IAU 3rd Global Survey on Internationalization of Higher Education

By Ross Hudson, International Association of Universities (IAU)

Official Websites of Project Atlas ® Partner Organizations and Research Affiliates
Country-Specific Web Resources



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IIE Experts

IIE experts on international education are available for interviews or speaking engagements.

Dr. Allan E. Goodman
President and CEO

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