International students in G20 during COVID-19

Why they travel? and where are they going? 

This blog is to Shed light on the international students in the top 20 economic countries (biggest GDP) in the world, looking at the impact of COVID-19 on those students.

As per UNESCO and World Bank figures of 2019, the 20 Biggest GDP countries have more than 13900 universities covering around 7000 different programs and have 800 out of 1000 of the world’s top-ranked universities. Those countries are also hosting most international students worldwide as 5.15 M out of 5.72 M international students in 2019 were studying in G20 countries.

At the same time, the above countries are anticipating in 70% of COVID-19 cases around the world as per 23 Dec 2020 numbers,

to Illustrate the impact of COVID-19, we will enlighten the status of the international student in those countries in aspect of numbers of international students in each country, number of universities, top-ranking universities, percentage of international students against local students in the country, the average cost of studying and many other parameters

#CountryCOVID-19 casesGDP AS PER World Bank 2019PopulationNumber of UniversitiesNumber of Uni in top 1000 of THE RankNumber of Uni in top 1000 of SH Rank Number of Uni in top 1000 of EDU Rank Number of  students in thousands   Number of international students in thousands 
6United Kingdom2,110,3142,827,11366,727,4611509465752,400485
12South Korea52,5501,642,38351,096,415203832146,000160
18Saudi Arabia361,359792,96733,101,179627411,70074

*The  number of international students  and number of universities  had been collected from different resources as some countries did not purplish officially the number of international students in the country.

Why international students travel abroad for education.?

To reasons for the international student to travel aboard for education are: –

  1. Getting citizenship, as the gap between big economy countries and the rest of the world is piling up in human rights, technology, socially and economically, the new generations are looking for granting their future through education migrant and obtain the citizenship of those countries.
  2. Programs are not available in their hometown like Aerospace Engineering, Forestry, artificial engineering, and many other programs. With around 7000 different programs in the top 20 countries, it becomes the best destination for international students.
  3. Country Program limitation, as in many countries around the world, the student can not pick the program to join as he will be allocated according to the grades he achieved in the high school diploma. Meanwhile, in the top 20 countries, the student can pick the program he wants to study.
  4. Quality education in the top 20 countries is another reason for traveling since around 800 of the top 1000 universities are in the top 20.

Which countries the best destination for international students?

As per the UNESCO and local education authorities in the Top 20 countries, the USA leads the list of the best destination for international students, with around 1.1 M international students studying in the USA by 2020. Turkey and Canada are showing a remarkable yearly increase in the last three years

# Country   Number of International Students 
1United State of America1,094,000.00
4United Kingdom485,000.00

How much it cost to study in the top 20 detonations? 

Screening the pricing of the education’s fees in the top 20 and excluding medicine, dentist, and pharmacy, one can notice the differences in the prices between different countries. The most expensive are in Europe and the USA.

Around Yearly fees of universities in USD

#CountryMin cost in thousands of USD Max cost in thousands of USD  
3United States of America2.0030.00
6United Kingdom1.7025.00
17Saudi Arabia6.008.00
18South Korea3.006.00


The COVID-19 triggered financial problems for the Universities in the top 20 countries as many universities are over-reliant on international students for fee income. Seamless, the impact was on international students as well as universities in many aspects and many countries. A pithy observation had been recorded in some countries as followsHow was the status of international students during the COVID-19?


CountryIssues facedData source
USAStudent faced deportation as their programs are 100% on line
USAThe pandemic has damaged the appeal of studying in the United States for some international students
USAInternational Students Face A Host of Problems During The Pandemic
ChinaInternational students unable to return to their studies in China
ChinaStudents are looked inside the campus
ChinaCoronavirus Forces Foreign Students in China to Choose: Stay or Go
JapanJapan’s re-entry ban threatens scholarships, admission and graduation for foreign students
JapanOnly top foreign students in Japan to receive coronavirus aid
Germany90% of International Students in Germany Say COVID-19 Crisis Affected Them Financially
GermanyVisa application issues could stop students reaching universities
Germany will not issue study visas if programmes have transitioned online due to COVID-19
United KingdomOverseas students fear losing university places
United KingdomGrowing numbers of students are facing financial hardship during the lockdown
United KingdomLockdown
FranceFrance still faces challenges in hosting international students, with many struggling to find suitable housing.
FranceThousands of foreign students stranded in France because of COVID-19

Other countries also faced issues as well , 

In this Blog we addressed the main destinations of international students and the impact of the pandemic on them, which might lead to decreasing on the number of international students in 2020. Universities and governments should work faster in innovating solutions for pandemic uprising issues in higher education institutes for international students.


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