study abroad Asia
Taiwan is a popular study abroad destination in Asia. Source: Shutterstock

International student mobility has changed a lot over the past decade or so. It used to be the case that students from Asian countries flock to the West for higher education, but these tides are steadily turning.

Countries like the US, UK and Australia remain popular study abroad destinations, but as countries in Asia continue to develop and economies flourish, a number of universities on the continent are making names for themselves.

Studying in Asia has its benefits – cost of living is generally lower (although cities like Singapore and Hong Kong can be expensive), cities are very diverse, and weather is generally milder than other continents.

As the importance of global skills and international mindsets gain traction, studying in Asia can be a great way to leave your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a whole new culture.

Here are four rising study abroad destinations in Asia, aside from the more common destinations such as China and Hong Kong.


Malaysia may be a small country, but it’s one that’s rich with culture and diversity. With such a multicultural population, cuisine here is truly international – not to mention delicious!

Although it’s a Muslim-majority country, Malaysia is fairly liberal, so you can enjoy a fantastic student experience with a vibrant nightlife and tropical weather all year round.

The country is home to a number of reputable universities such as the University of Malaya, which has been steadily climbing world rankings year after year.

There are also plenty of universities which partner with overseas institutions such as Monash University and the University of Nottingham.

As for cost of living, it’s relatively lower compared to neighbouring Singapore. There are many international students learning in the country so it’s easy to find affordable student housing.


Another rising star when it comes to higher education in Asia, Taiwan‘s universities are attracting international students from all over the world.

It’s also a very safe country to live in, as crime rates are low. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.”

The economy has boomed in recent years so now the country is flourishing, and there are plenty of things here that help to form an unforgettable student experience.

The country’s diverse cuisine, rich culture, historical sites and majestic landscapes are just some of the main attractions for visitors to Taiwan.

When it comes to higher education, academics are of high quality. Top universities include the National Taiwan University and National Tsinghua University.

South Korea

Another emerging study abroad destination in Asia is the land of Kpop and kimchi – South Korea. The country itself has so much to offer students, including stunning landscapes, delicious food, high-tech cities, a thriving beauty and fashion industry, and much more.

Seoul was recently named among of the top ten student cities in the world by QS Best Student Cities 2019, making it one of the most popular rising study abroad destinations in Asia.

According to QS Top Universities, “Investment in education and research has been at the heart of South Korea’s growth into the world’s 11th largest economy and the fourth largest economy within Asia. It’s this investment and growth in innovation and technology that has meant the country is known as one of the four ‘Asian Tiger’ economies, alongside Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.”

Top universities include Seoul National University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).


Japan is another study abroad destination in Asia that’s upcoming. Due to government efforts to attract more international students, it’s fast becoming a popular choice for students around the world.

The country is attractive for students as it’s a clean and safe, with high-tech innovations and a rich cultural heritage, not to mention high academic standards.

According to Times Higher Education, “Japan is a country that successfully maintains ancient traditions alongside its identity as a nation of technological innovation. This contrast can also be seen in the country’s higher education institutions as they develop their research output and international outreach while preserving Japan’s cultures and values.”

Two of the top universities in Japan are the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University.

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