This paper critically examines what we do and do not know about future trends in the trade in international higher education. Its prime focus is the Asia Pacific region as it includes four of the five biggest providers – Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea – and the biggest supplier of students – China (including Hong Kong). It begins by looking at what motivates universities to attract international students and then documents the present and likely future demand for international higher education and the possible market responses to economic and demographic trends. It concludes with some speculations about the future of the industry in this region.

The paper was commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, written by Alan Ruby, senior fellow for international education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, and presented at the Invitational Forum on "New Approaches to Cooperation with Asia and Australia" held during the 2009 NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo in May 2009, Los Angeles, California.