Study abroad: Where should I move in 2024?

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  • young student
Published on 2024-02-12 at 10:00 by Asaël Häzaq
International student mobility is increasingly important in the strategies of countries vying to attract foreign talent. Are the top choices of 2024 still the countries usually favored by international students? What are the new priorities of international students?

Studying abroad: What's changing in 2024 

Which countries are emerging as the new favorite destinations for international students? Which courses are the most popular? Zoom in on the year's new trends.

International students' new favorite countries 

In 2024, Germany, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ireland, and Australia are becoming increasingly popular destinations for international students. What sets these countries apart is their strong commitment to attracting international students.

Germany is making a comeback this spring with a new program aimed to support foreign students. The project, known as "FIT" (Promotion of International Talent for Integration into Studies and the Labour Market programme), is a collaboration between the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 

The UAE is leveraging its economic dynamism to attract international students. In Dubai, recent data from the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) indicates a 12% increase in the number of international students during 2022-2023. By 2023, this number is expected to surpass 30,000.

South Korea is capitalizing on the "hallyu" (Korean wave) phenomenon to draw in international students.

Ireland is taking advantage of Brexit to win over international students. The country offers a university system similar to that of the UK but at a more affordable cost.

Distance learning courses on the rise 

Amid the pandemic, distance learning courses have become a crucial support for international students, maintaining their popularity and even expanding in 2024. These courses are advantageous for both foreigners and locals. In Germany, for example, the Federal Association of Distance Learning Providers notes that 500,000 students are enrolled in distance learning programs. Their success has prompted some universities to offer exclusively online courses. In France, Nantes Université provides both partial and fully online courses. Additionally, the FernUniversität in Hagen (Open University Hagen) stands as Germany's sole public university offering exclusively online education.

The main benefit of distance learning lies in its affordability. While a Master's degree at a traditional university can cost 15,000 euros or more, the same degree at an online university typically ranges from 1,500 to 2,000 euros. Moreover, fully online programs offer greater flexibility, making them more suitable for students balancing work commitments, and they provide a diverse range of course options.

However, this approach requires a significant amount of self-discipline and may not offer the same level of immersion as studying abroad in person. There's more to the international student experience than just academics; immersion in the host country's university culture is essential for integration.

The growing popularity of medium-sized cities

While big cities continue to be popular, medium-sized towns are increasingly becoming appealing destinations. This shift is welcomed by governments aiming to relieve congestion in their major urban centers. In Canada, both the federal government and provincial authorities are implementing various initiatives to attract international students to cities beyond Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal. Halifax, Nova Scotia's university hub, is recognized for its high-quality education. Similarly, Regina, situated in the province of Saskatchewan, boasts excellent teaching standards. Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan share another common feature: programs intended for international workers.

In France, Valenciennes stands out as one of the medium-sized cities climbing the ranks as a student-friendly destination. Valenciennes relies on its well-preserved industrial sector (home to the giant Toyota plant) and its focus on innovation to appeal to prospective foreign talent. International students can breathe a sigh of relief, as the recently passed immigration law, which faced significant hurdles, will not impact them.

Student visas: The latest changes

The trend is clear: international students are increasingly drawn to countries with more straightforward visa procedures. Price remains a crucial factor in their decision-making process. Brexit has resulted in a decline in the number of European students choosing the UK, partly due to visa complexities and primarily due to the significant increase in study costs. Let's take a closer look at other countries that are currently adjusting their student visa policies.


Canada is reducing the number of study permits for international students, setting a cap at around 360,000 permits for both 2024 and 2025, marking a 35% reduction from 2023. Provinces that have historically hosted the highest number of international students will have the highest ceilings. However, this measure won't impact current student visa holders or those applying for visa renewals. Doctoral and master's students are also exempt. On the other hand, the adjustment affects the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, with stricter eligibility criteria from September 1, 2024.


From March 2024, student visa holders will be able to work longer. Working hours for students in Germany will increase from 120 days full-time/240 days part-time to 140 days full-time/280 days part-time. International students will be allowed to work 20 hours a week. 

United States

In December 2023, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy regarding student visas (F and M visas). These are mainly to provide clarification, particularly regarding the maintenance of residency status while foreign students in the USA are pursuing permanent residency. Moreover, international students on F-1 visas in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields who are seeking employment with a startup will now enjoy an extension of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) period. To qualify, the selected startup must participate in the OPT program. This adjustment is expected to streamline the process for companies looking to hire foreign STEM graduates.


In December 2023, the Australian government announced several adjustments to the student visa system, set to take effect in early 2024. One significant change involves the introduction of a new "Genuine Student Test" (GST), replacing the previous "Genuine Temporary Entrant" (GTE) test. The GST aims to encourage genuine international students to apply for Australian student visas and will require a higher minimum level of English proficiency compared to the previous test (GTE). 

Other changes concern temporary visas for foreign graduates. The duration of postgraduate visas for students with a Master's degree has been shortened from 3 to 2 years, and for those with a PhD, the duration has been reduced from 4 to 3 years. However, the duration of a research Master's visa remains unchanged at 3 years.

Choosing study paths for international careers  

This trend is expected to continue in 2024 as well. International students are increasingly drawn to fields of study that offer strong career prospects and high demand for graduates. This is easy to understand in a world hit by a prolonged economic downturn and ongoing job shortages.

In fact, the pandemic and the economic crisis have significantly impacted the financial resources of international students. Now more than ever, their primary focus is on investing in education and training that will lead to employment. Business, management, IT, information and communication technologies (ICT), and healthcare stand out among the sectors most popular with foreign students. These fields also happen to be experiencing labor shortages in many countries. Prioritizing studies in these areas enhances the prospects of an international career.

International students also pay attention to countries offering specific post-graduation programs (USA, Canada, Germany...). Conversely, countries that have adopted measures restricting immigration are losing points, even if they are refocusing on foreigners who are more advanced in their studies. The United Kingdom's decision to restrict the entry of students coming with their families (unless they are research students or holders of government scholarships) penalizes some of the prospective expats.

International students also pay attention to countries that provide specific post-graduation programs, such as the USA, Canada, and Germany. Conversely, countries implementing immigration restrictions are losing points, even if they are targeting more advanced international students. For instance, the United Kingdom's policy to limit entry for students arriving with their families, except for research students or government scholarship recipients, penalizes some prospective expatriates.

Useful links:

Study in United Arab Emirates

Study in Germany

Study in the US

Study in Australia

Study in South Korea

Study in Ireland

Study in Canada