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Top 5 countries that offer the best higher education

According to Statista, a market and consumer research firm the top 5 destination countries for international students based on a 2020 interview are:

This data is supported by the findings from CEOWORLD magazine of countries that ranked best for international students this 2021, with United States emerging as the first choice among the respondents. 

Key Points at a Glance

  • Predominantly English speaking countries top the list of countries with a high number of international students.
  • The top destination countries are “developed countries” or countries with a high-quality of life and economic standing.
  • International students should know immigration

Studying abroad is seen as a big step to further one’s education. International students choose to study abroad because of free education and/ or quality education. The top destination countries of international students are developed countries

Developed countries offer a quality of life that can be desirable to international students especially for those who live in developing countries. Based on a Canadian Bureau International Education International Student Survey in 2018,  most of the incoming international students came from developing countries. 

International student that studied in Canada

International student that studied in Canada came from the following developing countries:

  • India – 34%
  • China – 22%
  • Vietnam – 4%
  • Iran – 3%
  • South Korea 3%


How should international students prepare for their study abroad?

International students should consider the following in choosing their travel destination:

1. Language – English is still the lingua franca or global means of communication. It is evident in the statistics that international students prefer to study in predominantly English speaking countries. 

Some colleges offer courses that can enhance incoming students’ English proficiency and to ensure that they can learn using this medium of instruction. On the other hand, some colleges and universities require a certain level of proficiency prior admission to a program of study. 

Read about International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and your destination country’s language requirement. 

2. Homesickness – Before leaving their home country, international students should mentally prepare that they will not be home for at least a year. They will miss some family or friend milestones as they pursue their own. 

Be sure to communicate expectations with loved ones prior to their departure abroad.

3. New environment – Students should be open to different cultures, customs, and food. Prior research about their destination country is important to avoid culture shock. Prior research is not a fool proof measure to avoid culture shock but it can surely help students to adjust. 

Some learning institutions offer a pre-arrival and post-arrival orientation to properly acclimatize international students. Higher education institutions offer this in-house or through partner organizations.


Here is the list of top destination countries for international students with their respective pros and cons:

United States

Pros – Multiple scholarship opportunities such as Fulbright Scholarships, Rotary Peace Fellowships, etc.

Cons – The country experienced a decline in international students after several immigration changes done during the Trump administration. 

United Kingdom

Pros – Like the United States, this country offers a lot of scholarship opportunities such as Chevening Scholarships, Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarships, etc. 

Cons – Some educational institutions offer a compressed curriculum that may take a toll in a student’s study-life balance. 


Pros – Aside from having multiple scholarship opportunities, Canada is well-known as an immigrant friendly country. Most region’s flocked by international students offer a high-quality yet low-cost of living such as Saguenay

Cons – Some regions expect individuals to be knowledgeable in French. Students may have a hard time immersing themselves in a predominantly French speaking community. 


Pros – Has high-quality learning institutions rivaling those found in advanced developed countries such as the United States. 

Cons – The country has a high-cost of living. Food and housing expenses can cost $300 USD a week and may be a challenge even if they have an educational scholarship. 


Pros – The country offers various scholarships such as Smarts Up Scholarships, Paris Saclay Innovation Cluster Scholarships for STEM inclined students. 

Cons – Most higher education institutions’ medium of instruction is French. An international student must have a good grasp of the language to qualify in a higher education institution. 


What should international students look forward to?

International students can have mixed emotions in their international study venture. To put their worries into ease, higher education institutions should prepare a pre-departure and arrival orientation session. 

Students will look forward to seeing their campus, learning about the history and culture of the new community that they will call home for a few years or so. 

International students can look forward to coming home with confidence gained from an international education. Moreover, they will have more work opportunities. Aside from work opportunities in their home country, international students can start a new life abroad. 

Countries such as Canada offer a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) that allows students to work in Canada after their studies and even file for residency!



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