A growing number of students from Ghana are studying abroad, with figures showing a significant upward trend. While the number of outbound Ghanaian students is not as large as the traffic from African markets such as Nigeria, it is likely to continue to grow significantly given the priority being placed on the Sub-Saharan market by leading study-abroad destinations. 

Source: Statista, Number of Ghanaian students in tertiary education abroad from 2010 to 2020

Outbound destinations

UNESCO global tertiary student mobility data shows that of the 18,214 outbound students from Ghana tracked by UNESCO in 2020, 22.2% studied in the United States 12.47% in the United Kingdom, 7.6% in Germany, and 7.6% in Canada. However, UNESCO does not track inbound students to China, which is the most popular destination for students from Ghana. The number of Ghanaian students studying in China is reported to be in the region of 6,500 – the result of strong economic ties between China and Ghana and a scholarship programme offered by the Chinese government for students from Ghana.

What’s contributing to this growth?

A growing economy, an increasing population under the age of 25, improved secondary education outcomes, and challenges for local universities in coping with the rising number of students have all contributed to the growth of Ghanaian students seeking to study abroad. Another key driver for outbound students from Ghana is the opportunity to gain an advantage in Ghana’s competitive job market which is notable for its high levels of graduate unemployment and under-employment.

Prioritisation of the Sub-Saharan African market by the UK, USA, Canada and Germany has also played a role in the increase in outbound students from Ghana.  In the UK for example, the government’s International Education Strategy prioritises Sub-Saharan African countries  Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya for recruitment, while the USA has an active recruiting presence in Ghana. Germany’s DAAD has a targeted scholarship programme for students from Sub-Saharan Africa, while Canada’s International Education Strategy has a general focus on diversifying the source markets for its inbound international student cohort. These ongoing efforts mean that further growth in the number of Ghanaian students heading for these destinations can be expected.

Priorities for students from Ghana

Ghana’s official language of instruction is English, so students are not likely to face the same hurdles of adjusting to studying in another language as others. However, Intead research highlights that affordability, access to student services and cutting edge technology are important considerations for students from Ghana when deciding where to study. Safety concerns are also an area of worry. Safety features and support services are likely to be important for Ghanaian students when considering where to live. Affordability concerns suggest that this student cohort is also likely to be more price-sensitive and place a high priority on support to find opportunities for paid employment while studying.