More than a third of overseas study for UK higher education qualifications takes place in Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan and China, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show.
In 2011-12, there were 570,665 higher education students abroad either registered at UK institutions or studying for UK qualifications at partner organisations.
Of these, 76,360 were within the European Union and 494,305 were outside the EU.
Some 66,920 offshore students were in Malaysia, 51,770 were in Singapore and 39,080 were in Pakistan.
Within Europe, the largest number (15,715) was in the Republic of Ireland.
The vast majority of all offshore students were studying for first degrees (80.5 per cent). Within the EU, most were registered with UK universities, with the bulk of this group studying via distance learning.
Outside the EU, most offshore students (62.1 per cent) studied for UK awards at overseas partners.
Branch campus arrangements accounted for just 2.7 per cent of all offshore students.
In 2011-12, the number of reported offshore students rose by 13 per cent year on year. However, the increase was largely down to a clarification in reporting that led some institutions to include previously unreported students.