According to Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), international students are those who travel to a country different from their own for the purpose of tertiary study. Despite that, the definition of international students varies in each country in accordance to their own national education system. Below are several definitions of international students;
- ‘International Students’ are defined as those studying onshore only with visa subclasses 570 to 575, excluding students on Australian-funded scholarships or sponsorship or students undertaking study while in possession of other temporary visas. New Zealand citizens do not require a visa to study in Australia, so are not classed as international students.
- ‘International students’ are defined as foreign nationals who study at any Japanese university, graduate school, junior college, college of technology, professional training college or university preparatory course on a ‘college student’ visa, as defined by the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.
Based on the definitions above, international students are basically referring to those studying in foreign educational institutions. This includes either those doing the long term or the short term programs.
Other examples of definitions of international students can be found in World Education Services (Appendix A).
Top Source Countries 
According at an estimate, every year, nearly 750,000 Chinese and 400,000 Indian students apply to higher education institutions around the world to study, indicating huge aspirations of students from these two countries to study abroad Top two source countries for international students are China and India with 441,186 and 170,255 globally mobile students respectively in 2008. The key drivers of mobility of Chinese and Indian students are quite similar. On the supply side, two key drivers are increasing prosperity, which enables the ability to afford foreign education, and rapid expansion of the system of higher education at the expense of quality. On the demand side, two key drivers are universities’ aggressive approach to recruiting students to compensate for budget cuts and access to a wider range of recruitment channels and service providers.
Prospective international students are usually required to sit for language tests, such as TOEFL, iTEP, PTE Academic, IELTS, DELF or DELE, before they are admitted. Tests notwithstanding, while some international students already possess an excellent command of the local language upon arrival, some find their language ability, considered excellent domestically, inadequate for the purpose of understanding lectures, and/or of conveying oneself fluently in rapid conversations.
Destinations of International Students 
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in their 2009 World Conference on Higher Education report, there were more than 2.5 million students studying outside their own country. UNESCO also predicted that the number of international students might rise approximately to 7 million by year 2020. The main destinations preferred by international students are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia. Overall, the number of international students more than doubled between 2000 and 2007, to over 2 million.
However, the sharpest percentage increases of international students have occurred in New Zealand, Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland.
In recent years, some Asian and Middle East countries started to attract more international students. These regions have entered the market with declared ambitions to become regional education centers by attracting as many as several hundred thousand international students to their countries.
United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada 
The US, UK, Australia, and Canada are countries that have the highest number of international students. In terms of straight numbers, the US is the undisputed front-runner with approximately 723,277 foreign enrollment in 2010-11, followed by the UK, Australia, and Canada, respectively with 330,000, 280, 000, and 265,000 registered overseas students. Of which approximately 200,000 of USA, 160,000 of UK and 70,000 of Australia's international students learned ESL (English as a Second Language) or its equivalent as a subject or course.
International student mobility in the first decade of the 21st century has been transformed by two major external events, 9/11 and the recession of 2008. The 9/11 forced US to tighten visa requirements for students and Australia and the UK cashed in on this opportunity and were successful in absorbing most of the growth in international students. The growth story for Australia and the UK would have continued, but the recession of 2008 exposed two aspects of international student enrollment in these countries—unmanageable high proportion of international students compared to home students and issues of quality raised by the use of aggressive recruitment practices. In 2009, international students represented 21.5% and 15.3% of higher education enrollment in Australia and the UK, compared to less than 4% in the US, according to the OECD.
The number of US Visas issued to Chinese students to study at US universities has increased by 30 per cent over last year, from more than 98,000 in 2009 to nearly 128,000 in October 2010, placing China as the top country of origin for international students, according to the "2010 Open Doors Report" published on the US Embassy in China website. The number of Chinese students increased, Overall, the total number of international students with a US Visa to study at colleges and universities increased by 3 per cent to a record high of nearly 691,000 in the 2009/2010 academic year. The 30 per cent increase in Chinese student enrolment was the main contributor to this year's growth, and now Chinese students account for more than 18 percent of the total international students.
U.S. colleges and universities have long welcomed students from China, where the higher-education system cannot meet the demand. Three years ago, a record 10 million students throughout China took the national college entrance test, competing for 5.7 million university slots. Because foreign undergraduates typically fail to qualify for U.S. federal aid, colleges here can provide limited financial help. Now, thanks to China's booming economy in recent years, more Chinese families can afford to pay. U.S. colleges also face challenges abroad. Worries about fraud on test scores and transcripts make occasional headlines. And even Chinese students who test high on an English-language proficiency test may not be able to speak or write well enough to stay up to speed in a U.S. classroom, where essay writing and discussions are common.
Germany and France 
In 2006, with approximately 20% of world’s foreign students, or 515,000 out of the 2.7 million students studying outside their countries, Germany and France are best understood as secondary higher education destinations.
Japan, Canada and New Zealand 
Japan, Canada and New Zealand are perceived as evolving destinations for international students. In 2006, Japan, Canada and New Zealand together shared roughly 13% of the international student market, with approximately 327,000 of the 2.7 million students who traveled abroad for the purposes of higher education. Canada has seen a large increase in the number of India students, where the number of Indian students rose 280% in 2010 compared to 2008. Organizations such as Learnhub are taking advantage of this growing trend of Indian international students by providing recruitment services that bring Indian students abroad. In 2012, Canada accepted more than 100,000 international students for the first time, bringing the total number of international students in Canada to 260,000, which is nearly identical to that of Australia's 280,000.
Malaysia, Singapore and China 
Malaysia, Singapore and China are the emerging destinations for international students. These three countries have combined share of approximately 12% of the global student market with somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 students having decided to pursue higher education studies in these countries in 2005-6.
The flow of international students above indicates the South-North phenomenon. In this sense, students from Asia prefer to pursue their study particularly in the United States.
The recent statistics on mobility of international students can be found in;
- The 2009 Global Education Digest (GED) by UNESCO
- International Flows of Mobile Students at the Tertiary Level by UNESCO
- Empowering People to Innovate - International Mobility by OECD.
The Challenges for International Students in English-Speaking Countries 
There is a trend for more and more students to go abroad to study in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia to gain a broader education. English is the only common language spoken at universities in these countries. International students not only need to acquire good communication skills and fluent English both in writing and speaking, but also absorb the Western academic writing culture in style, structure, reference, and the local policy toward academic integrity in academic writing. International students may have difficulty completing satisfactory assignments because of the difficulty with grammar and spelling, differences in culture, or a lack of confidence in English academic writing. Insightful opinions may lose the original meaning when transformed from the student's native language to English. Even if international students acquire good scores in English proficiency exams or are able to communicate with native American students frequently in class, they often find that the wording and formatting of academic papers in English-speaking universities are different from what they are used to.
Most international students encounter difficulties in language use. Such issues make it difficult for the student to make domestic friends and gain familiarity with the local culture. Sometimes, these language barriers can subject international students to ignorance or disrespect from native speakers. Most international students are also lacking a support groups in the country they are studying. Although all the colleges in North America, that are in a student exchange programs, do have International Student Office, it sometimes does not have resources and capability to consider their students' individual needs when it comes to adapting the new environment. The more a particular college has students coming from the same country the better the support is for getting involved to the new culture.
International students have several challenges in their academic studies at North American universities. Studies have shown that these challenges include several different factors: inadequate English proficiency; unfamiliarity with North American culture; lack of appropriate study skills or strategies; academic learning anxiety; low social self-efficacy; financial difficulties; and separation from family and friends. Despite the general perception that American culture is characterized more by diversity than by homogeneity, the American ideology of cultural homogeneity implies an American mindset that because Eurocentric cultures are superior to others, people with different cultures should conform to the dominant monocultural canon and norms.
Chinese international students face other challenges besides language proficiency. The Chinese educational structure focuses on exam-oriented education, with educational thinking and activities aimed towards meeting the entrance examination. Students stress more on exam performance, and teachers are inclined to focus on lecturing to teach students what may be on the test. In addition, “parents are also convinced that the more students listened to the lectures, the better they would score on the finals.” Though the Western educational system also features exams, standardized testing, and lectures, the Chinese exam system leads students and teachers to ignore the importance of practical activities, such as group work, because these skills will not be tested on the exams. When Chinese students first come to the U.S, the emphasis on group work in the U.S educational system causes new difficulties. These students often show passivity attitude towards group projects. This is simultaneously aggravated by varying degrees of English proficiency.
See also 
- Study abroad
- Student exchange program
- Fulbright Program
- Apprentices mobility
- Erasmus programme
- F-1 Visa
- Goodwill Scholarships
- International Baccalaureate
- International education
- International Students Day
- International Student Identity Card
- Japanese students in Britain
- Monbukagakusho Scholarship
- Pakistani students abroad
- Vulcanus in Japan
- Student migration
- American International Education Foundation (AIEF)
- Brethren Colleges Abroad
- International Union of Students
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators
- PFL Education
- Journal of International Students, a peer-reviewed publication, web http://www.jistudents.org
- World Education Services.
- "How many Indian and Chinese students go abroad every year?". DrEducation.com. 2013-08-20. Retrieved 2012-08-28.
- "Global Education Digest". UNESCO. 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "Drivers of Mobility of Indian and Chinese Students". DrEducation.com. 2011-03-10. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- ETS.org (English speaking education)
- iteponline.com (English speaking education)
- Ielts.org (English speaking education)
- About.com (French speaking education)
- DonQuijote.org (Spanish speaking education)
- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2010.
- "International Student Enrollment Increased by 5 Percent in 2010/11, Led by Strong Increase in Students From China", Institute of International Education, November 14, 2011
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- Choudaha, Rahul "The future of international student mobility", "University World News (2011-10-03)"
- "International Student Mobility Trends". DrEducation.com. 2011-10-03.
- "Education at a Glance". OECD. 2011.
- Mary, Beth, Marklein,"Chinese college students flocking to U.S. campuses", USA TODAY, December 8, 2009
- "Number of Chinese students applying for a US Visa increases", USA VISA BUREAU, November 16, 2010.
- "France, Germany & Canada: New overseas education destinations for Indians". Economic Times. May 1, 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
- "Learnhub.com". Learnhub. June 20, 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
- "Canada welcomes record number of international students in 2012". Citizenship and Immigration Canada. February 26, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- "Canada – Temporary foreign students present on December 1st by province or territory and urban area, 2008-2012". Citizenship and Immigration Canada. December 1, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- Stephanie Lindemann, “Listening with an attitude: A model of native speaker comprehension of non-native speakers in the United States” Language in Society 31. (2002).
- Jinyan Huang& Kathleen Brown “cultural factors affecting Chinese ESL students’ academic learning” Education. (2009).
- Hsieh, Min-Hua. "Challenges For International Students In Higher Education: One Student's Narrated Story Of Invisibility And Struggle." College Student Journal 41.2 (2007): 379-391.Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
- Bista,Krishna, "A First-Person Explanation of Why Some International Students Are Silent in the U.S. Classroom", "Faculty Focus",June 23, 2011
Further reading 
- Orleans, Leo A., Chinese Students in America: Policies, Issues, and Numbers, National Academies Press, US National Academies, Office of International Affairs (OIA), 1988.