Internationally mobile students


Internationally mobile students are individuals who have physically crossed an international border between two countries with the objective to participate in educational activities in the country of destination, where the country of destination of a given student is different from their country of origin.

The country of origin of a tertiary student is the country in which they gained their upper secondary qualifications. This can also be referred to as the country of prior education. Where countries are unable to operationalise this definition, it is recommended that they use the country of usual or permanent residence to determine the country of origin. Where this too is not possible and no other suitable measure exists, the country of citizenship may be used – but only as a last resort.

Any transfer between different education systems which does not involve the physical crossing of an international border is not considered as international student mobility. In particular, the following are not forms of international student mobility:

- distance learning programmes provided by institutions based in another country to students based in their country or origin;

- programmes offered by foreign-based institutions in the country of origin leading to foreign degrees.

Internationally mobile students may be attributed to either the country of destination, as inbound internationally mobile students, or to the country of origin as outbound mobile students.

Source definition

UNESCO Institute for Statistics