Target 4 B: Scholarships

By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries

Chapter 16 PDF

Benjamin Loyseau/UNHCR. Hannah fled the Syrian Arab Republic in 2012.

Key Messages

  • The volume of scholarships funded by aid programmes has been stagnant since 2010 at US$1.2 billion.
  • Globally, 2.3% of tertiary education students were internationally mobile in 2017, compared to 2% in 2012, equivalent to 5.1 million mobile students.
  • EU countries have committed to ensure that by 2020 at least 20% of graduates experience part of their studies abroad, spending 3 months or more or obtaining at least 15 credits in other countries. But non-EU destination countries do not all report back on students’ achievements or credits, which hampers monitoring. New estimates for 2016 suggested the outward mobility was 10.7%, well below the target.
  • After almost 30 years of accumulated experience, evaluations of the flagship Erasmus student exchange programme suggest a positive effect on employment and career opportunities, albeit with some concerns on equity. Credit transfer, qualification framework and quality assurance mechanisms support mobility in Europe; replicating them in aspiring regions, such as South‑eastern Asia, will require strong commitment.

The volume of scholarships funded by aid programmes has been stagnant since 2010 at about US$1.1 billion to US$1.2 billion (excluding imputed student costs). However, this indicator does not provide information on the number of scholarship recipients or the number of recipients of scholarships disbursed outside aid programmes.

While an increasing share of internationally mobile students move outside their regions, most internationally mobile students from Europe stay within the region, their mobility actively promoted through student exchange programmes. Their outward mobility rate increases by level of study, from 3% for bachelor’s degrees to 6% for master’s and 10% for doctorate degrees (Figure 15).

Figure 15: In Europe, student mobility increases with the level of study

The EU Learning Mobility in Higher Education 2020 benchmark suggests that at least 20% of higher education graduates in the European Union should have studied abroad for at least 3 months or the equivalent of 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System.

Home institutions may provide data for estimating temporary mobility for credits; destination countries must provide data for degree mobility. For EU countries, reporting is mandatory, but among the main destination countries for EU students outside Europe, only Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel and New Zealand provide the necessary data. The United States is a key missing source, along with China, India, Japan, Mexico and the Republic of Korea. Given the incomplete coverage, the available estimates (currently far below 20%) likely understate outward mobility.

The EU’s higher education strategy includes a target for at least 20% of graduates to experience part of their study abroad

Previous year’s Target 4.B