India will have the largest student population by 2025, study predicts

British Council research forecasts that China will remain the top provider of international students

December 10, 2015
Youth population change between 2012 and 2025
Source: Alamy

View high-resolution version

India will be home to the largest domestic higher education market by 2025, while China will remain the number one provider of international students globally, according to a study from the British Council.

The research shows that India will have the largest 18- to 22-year-old population in 10 years – 119 million. The next biggest group will be in China, despite the projection that the number of Chinese in this age group will decline by roughly 35 million to 80 million. In 2012, China’s student population was 115,560,000, overtaking India’s by 71,000.

Nigeria will see the highest increase in this youth population, projected at about 7.4 million, to reach 23 million in 2025. Other countries that will have much bigger student populations over the next decade include Indonesia (up 3.7 million) and Ethiopia (up 3.6 million).

The report, The Shape of International Education to 2025, predicts that the African youth population will equal, and then surpass, the Asian youth population some time around 2078.

The study is part of the British Council’s “Shape of Things to Come” series, and will be presented at its annual Services for International Education Marketing conference in Edinburgh on 10 December.

The British Council worked with Oxford Economics to develop demographic and economic projections, using data from the United Nations Population Division and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The report adds that the trend of the US and the UK facing decreases in their global market share of international students “looks set to continue” as the provision of education in traditional origin countries expands.

It suggests that Sri Lanka will see the highest annual percentage growth in household income over the next decade, 5.8 per cent per annum, while strong average annual growth is also forecast in Vietnam (5.5 per cent), Uzbekistan (5.3 per cent), China (5.1 per cent), Bangladesh (4.7 per cent) and Indonesia (4.3 per cent).

Based on figures for household wealth and population projections, as well as trends in tertiary education, the British Council predicts that China will continue to be the top supplier of international students globally by 2025, followed by India, Nigeria, Germany and Saudi Arabia, while India will be home to the largest domestic higher education market, followed by China and the US.

A separate report published by the UK Higher Education International Unit this week revealed that a higher proportion of international students would recommend the UK than any of its major English-speaking competitors.

Figures in the study, International Undergraduate Students: The UK’s Competitive Advantage, show that international undergraduate student satisfaction with UK higher education is at 91 per cent, while 85 per cent of international undergraduates would recommend or actively recommend their UK study experience.

The findings are based on feedback from 365,754 international students on courses outside their home country, which was collected from i-graduate’s International Student Barometer.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments


Print headline: India to lead world in student numbers

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (15 December 2016)

Mark Readman offers a guide to help selfish academics ensure that everyone at a conference knows they are very special indeed

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

Jefferson with paint over face

Buildings and statues dedicated to people whose views clash with modern values can cause difficulties, but is tearing down history the answer?