Declining fertility rates and ageing populations mean the base of young people of tertiary student age (18-22 years) has remained broadly stable in recent years, and is expected to rise only marginally in the five years to 2021.
India will have the largest pool of potential students in 2021, as its 18-22 year old demographic is forecast to grow by 3% to over 121.5 million. Moreover, given its relatively young population, this age group will account for almost 9% of the total population by 2021, compared with less than 5% in Italy, Russia, Japan and Germany.
Despite adverse demographic trends, enrolment rates in the tertiary sector have increased rapidly in recent years. Globally, the gross enrolment ratio leapt from 35% in 2011 to 41% in 2016, and was forecast to rise to 42% in 2017.
China and India account for a significant proportion of the world’s higher education students, and are also among the fastest growth markets. In China, the number of students leapt by 40% from 2011 to 2016, and there is every expectation that this trend will continue. In the other BRIC markets of India and Brazil, growth reached 23% over the same period.
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