Indicators on Education, in the OECD, 2004/2005

More foreign students


In 2004/2005, more than 2.7 million students were enrolled outside their country of citizenship, nearly 5 per cent more compared with the previous year. Since 1999/2000, the number of foreign students increased by 50 per cent worldwide. In Norway, the increase was even higher.

OECDs publication Education at a Glance 2007 shows a dramatic growth in the number of foreign students enrolled worldwide – from 600 000 in 1975 to more than 2.7 million in 2005.

Graph - Long term growth in the number of students enroleld outside their country of citizenship

In the OECD area, 2.3 million foreign students studied in OECD countries during 2004/2005. The increase was slightly smaller than worldwide with a 4.6 per cent increase in foreign student numbers over just one academic year. Since 1999/2000, the number of foreign tertiary students enrolled in OECD countries increased by 49 per cent.


In Norway, as for several other OECD countries, there has been an increase in foreign enrolments by more than 50 per cent since 1999/2000. In Norway, and for the other Nordic countries, this trend may be explained as no tuition fees are charged for domestic and international students in public tertiary institutions. Another trend especially noticeable in the Nordic countries is the increasing number of institutions now offering courses in English to overcome their linguistic disadvantage in attracting foreign students.

Six out of ten foreign students choose to study in a relatively small number of countries. USA, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia host approximately 60 per cent of all tertiary students pursuing their studies abroad. Even though the United States, Germany and United Kingdom face a decline in foreign enrolment, they still maintain their positions as top five destinations. According to OECDs publication Education at a Glance 2007, the United States foreign student intake is still affected by the events of 11. September 2001.

Graph - Distribution of foreign students by country of destination - 2000 and 2005

As 'new' countries are becoming more popular destinations for foreign students may reflect the different emphases of internationalisation policies in tertiary education. France, New Zealand, South Africa and the Russian Federation show the steepest increase of foreign students.