International Tertiary Student Mobility in the ASEAN

Emily Christi A. Cabegin


The ASEAN region has been a major source of internationally mobile tertiary students in the recent decades, with Malaysia and Vietnam making it among the top ten sending countries of international students worldwide in 2014. The region is also a growing market for higher education, with Singapore, Malaysia and to some extent Thailand experiencing significant international-student inbound flows in the past decade. Higher inbound student mobility rates in the region are associated with a number of factors in destination area including the presence of top-ranked higher education institutions, strong
international academic linkages and collaboration, higher GDP per capita and strong labor market prospects and favorable immigration policies for skilled workers. Although international student mobility is a likely antecedent to labor migration, an ASEAN member state is not nearly to lose its high skilled human talent to another member state as the massive outlow of both internationally mobile students and
highly educated migrants from the region are directed towards the OECD countries. The forging of an ASEAN Economic Community and the increased intra-regional cooperation in higher education are likely to enhance mobility of students and academics within the region, which, if properly managed, can maximize the gains for both the sending and host countries from enhanced brain exchange and circulation.

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