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Number of students in leading universities APAC 2020

Tribhuvan University in Nepal had approximately 418 thousand full-time students in 2020. This was unquestionably the highest number of students of any Asia Pacific university, leaving Chinese and Thai universities lagging behind in terms of university student numbers. Despite the huge influx of students enrolled in Tribhuvan University, Australia still saw a dramatic surge in the number of Nepalese international students from 2015 onwards. This alludes to the fact that an international tertiary education was just as favorable as a domestic one. Interestingly, most of the universities which made the ranking for the highest number of students were situated in China.

An Asia Pacific education

Universities across the Asia Pacific region are experiencing a dramatic rise in student population. As a home to powerful and developing economies, it appears more students are eager to secure places in the higher education sectors which boast huge economic potential. China stands as the most popular country for international students in Asia and third most popular for international students globally. The large majority of international students in China are not reliant on Chinese governmental funding from scholarships and are self-funded. Therefore, huge investments are put into the Chinese economy. Other countries such as Thailand are too experiencing increased GDP contributions from the education sector. Despite the growing number of international students deciding to complete their higher education in China, many of the domestic Chinese students choose to study elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region. This is prevalent in the great influx of Chinese students arriving in Australia to study.


As a higher education in the Asia Pacific region is becoming more popular, initiatives have been set up to ensure qualifications are recognized throughout the many countries across Asia Pacific. The Tokyo Convention – an agreement made between Japan, South Korea, Australia, China and New Zealand – is designed to enable student and academic mobility. Simultaneously, the convention endorses the recognition of higher education qualifications throughout the Asia Pacific region. This in turn appears to encourage more domestic and international students to consider tertiary education in Asia Pacific, as their qualification will likely be recognized in their home countries and elsewhere in the region.

Number of students in leading universities in the Asia Pacific region in 2020

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Release date

May 2020



Survey time period


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Full-time equivalent students.

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Statistics on "Tertiary education in Asia Pacific"

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