2024 Global Student Flows

By Shorelight Team
Published on June 11, 2024

Much can change in international education in just one year: Student flows to the US almost completed their post-COVID recovery while other major competitors stretched their capacity, followed by major student visa restrictions.

This image shows Shorelight's company logo: a traditional fishing-style lantern in orange.

In partnership with HolonIQ, Shorelight released the 2024 Global Student Flows Report. The 2024 report includes new data, insights, and analysis to guide governments, universities, institutions, and stakeholders on strategies, policies, and resources needed to support international education growth.

The report reveals that while the US remains a top destination for international students, it is losing market share to competitors, a trend that must be addressed for the US to remain economically and innovatively competitive.

Key highlights include:

  • More than 1 million international students were enrolled in US higher education in 2023, representing 15% of the global total. However, the US’s share of students traveling to the “Big Four” countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia) has dropped by 10% since 2016, partly due to intraregional studying, geopolitical instability, and postgraduate work opportunities.

  • Despite efforts by individual universities, the US lacks a cohesive national policy and strategy, hindering its ability to attract top global talent and the economic and innovative benefits they bring.

  • While no further market share loss is predicted due to policy changes in other “Big Four” countries, issues around the perception of student visa availability persist, with the US denying international student visas at higher-than-average rates.

Tom Dretler, Shorelight cofounder and CEO, emphasizes the need for proactive and concerted action from US universities, policymakers, and industry leaders to remain competitive. “International students are a cornerstone of our higher education landscape, playing a pivotal role in local job creation, innovation pipelines, and the economies of host countries,” writes Dretler.

Through advocacy and action with partners, such as the US For Success Coalition, the report highlights the importance of international education for American competitiveness. The report underscores the need for a coordinated national strategy to maintain the US’s leading role in international education.

The US is well-positioned to attract top talent from around the globe, as international students continue to express their desire to study and work in the country. “The United States has unparalleled capabilities to educate both domestic and foreign students, uniquely positioning it to engage the best and brightest globally to propel its innovation, economic prosperity, and global influence,” writes Dretler.

Read the full report below: