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Where international students come from, in 1 map

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

More students attending college outside their home country go to the US than any other nation in the world. But a surprisingly high number of Americans go outside the US to earn their degrees, too.

That's one lesson from this map from MoveHub, initially spotted by Business Insider, which uses data from UNESCO to show where international students are coming from and where they're studying:

International student map UNESCO


There's a much bigger version, with more detail on specific countries, on the MoveHub website.

The color of the country shows how many of its citizens earn their degrees elsewhere. Some nations have circles inside of them showing whether it's also a top destination for international students.

But what this map doesn't show so well is that most countries are either a major source of students who study elsewhere, or a major destination — not both.

The United States ranks in the top 10 as both a source and a destination, but the number of international students coming here (740,482) dwarfs the number of Americans who earn a degree abroad (58,133 — the figures don't count students who study abroad for a single semester or year). China, on the other hand, welcomes a relatively high number of international students, almost 90,000 — but it sends almost 700,000 students abroad.

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