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Top English-speaking Destinations Preferred by Filipino Students

International students from the Philippines may not be the biggest in terms of number, but they still contribute immensely to the diversity of the global community of learners.


The latest data extracted from the website of UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics show that the Philippines has a total of 18,859 students abroad. This is a mixture of 2018 and 2019 outbound mobility data among Filipino students.


Global learners hailing from the Philippines are motivated to study abroad for a variety of reasons. A consistent trend in terms of their preference is to study in English-speaking countries such as Australia, United States, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

In this article, we will talk about these countries and the varying motivations of Filipino global learners.

Key Takeaways:

  • In 2018, there were 6,009 Filipino students in Australia, 1,227 in New Zealand, 926 in Canada, and 758 in the UK.
  • In 2019, there were 3,320 Filipino global learners enrolled in the US.
  • Top Non-English speaking countries that are attractive to Filipino global learners include Japan, Italy, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan
  • Japan hosted 852 Filipino students in 2018, surpassing the UK


Australia ranks third among the English-speaking countries preferred by Filipino students. Besides geographic proximity and a welcoming environment due to its multicultural society, Filipino international students enjoy a high-quality education that gives them a globally competitive advantage in any career. Being a technologically advanced nation also allows it to have top-notch resources for research.


As a soft power, Australia invests in building strong education relationships with its neighbors in the Asia Pacific Region. For instance, the  Australian Trade Commission or Austrade promotes the country’s education through a “Study in Australia” campaign in the Philippines.


In 2018, there were 6,009 Filipino students in Australia according to the UNESCO UIS Student Flow.

United States

The US and the Philippines have deep historical and cultural ties. In 2019, there were 3,320 Filipino global learners enrolled in the US. The growth trends in the inbound mobility of Filipino students to the US may be credited to the proactive efforts of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and the Commission on Higher Education’s signed Joint Statement on Higher Education Cooperation in 2019.


The joint statement enabled meaningful collaborations between US and Philippine higher education institutions, the government, and different industries. Additionally, this initiative will also benefit the country in the possible economic rebound post-pandemic it offers.


Another attractive benefit among Filipino global learners is a wide range of options in terms of program offerings such as in liberal arts and STEM. In addition, the US is known to promote diversity, particularly in the pre- and post-Trump eras, and has several Filipino communities in various states.

New Zealand

Just like its neighboring country, Australia, New Zealand’s relative geographic proximity to the Philippines has become appealing to Filipino global learners. In 2018, 1,227 Filipinos were studying in New Zealand. 


Healthcare and business programs are attracting Filipinos to study in New Zealand due to the high job demand in related industries. The possibility to gain work experience abroad and even migrate are also key drivers for Filipino global learners. In 2016, 90% of Filipino students chose to remain in New Zealand upon study completion via post-study work visa pathways or other visa categories.


Additionally, the surge in student visa applications from determined Filipino international students was also observed in 2015 when amendments in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s Rule 18 include changes to English language testing requirements.



Due to its above-average post-secondary programs, world-class language education, and the possibility of immigration, Canada has been among the favorite destinations for international students hailing from the Philippines. In 2018, there were 926  Filipino global learners in Canada.


Studying in Canada is also attractive because of the affordable education. Besides having several public and private not-for-profit universities, Canada offers academic merit-based scholarships that are specifically designed for international students.


As a multicultural society, global learners in Canada enjoy cross-cultural experiences which can hone a deeper sense of humanity and psychosocial intelligence.

United Kingdom

In 2018, 758 Filipino students were studying in the UK. The programs offered by UK HEIs are attractive to global learners due to shorter courses that are reasonably lower in terms of cost.


While courses are completed in a shorter period, training and foundational teaching remain top-notch, which can be credited to the accessibility to state-of-the-art facilities that warranted UK’s reputation for world-class research. This is probably why UK graduates are among the most employable in the world.

Non-English Speaking Countries

Many Filipino international students also choose to study in non-English speaking countries, for some reason. For instance, there were 852 Filipino students in Japan in 2018, surpassing the number of students enrolled in the UK. Meanwhile, 715 Filipino students are enrolled in an HEI in Italy in 2018 and in 2019, 592 were enrolled in Saudi Arabia and 536 in Jordan. The Republic of South Korea has also been among the favorites with 464 Filipino students enrolled in 2018.


Apart from receiving high-quality education and unique global experiences, the outbound mobility of Filipino students is also highly influenced by labor migration. Many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) find greener pastures in other countries, be it in an English-speaking or Non-English one. A noticeable trend related to this, as stated by World Education News and Review, is the proliferation of international Philippine Schools in Saudi Arabia that cater to the children of Filipino migrant workers.


Generally, there is a pulse for eager global learners in the Philippines. While a 2018 report from WENR stated that the Philippines’ outbound student mobility rate is lower than its neighboring ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, transformations in the education system of the Philippines may help in raising the numbers. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)


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MSM VP Global Suneetha Qureshi

MSM President-Global Marketing Office (GMO)

Suneetha has more than 10 years of experience in the international education sector. As president of MSM GMO, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray in edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each GMO partner institution, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application pre-screening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.


She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.

Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.


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