On the demand side, UNESCO data indicate that there are 76.1m students who graduate from secondary school in low-income countries each year. Combining this figure with country-specific data on the share of people under 25 who want to permanently migrate to another country from the Gallup World Poll, we estimate that 22.2m secondary school graduates from low-income countries may want to study abroad each year.
On the supply side, an estimated 26.1m students start a BA program in high- and upper-middle income countries each year. Thus, existing capacity in high- and upper-middle income countries would have to increase by 85% to accommodate all potentially interested students from low-income countries.
Countries for scaling
Table 1 provides an overview of study conditions in a select number of OECD countries. What these countries have in common is that they subsidize tuition fees, so that study costs are lower than e.g. in the US, the UK, or Canada, which are omitted for this reason. As a result, the cost of a degree ranges from USD 11,667 to USD 74,469, assuming that students have part-time jobs in the latter years of the degree (column 1). Combining these figures with OECD data on average salaries in these countries (column 2), students earn back the cost of the degree within between 2.5 months and 1.5 years of working (column 3).
To estimate the number of potentially available spots for foreign students in these countries, we collected all Bachelor programs taught in English or French. Based on informal conversations with universities, we conservatively estimate that each program has 30 spots for foreign students per year (with the exception of France, where this approach resulted in an implausibly large number of spots; here we used official numbers of first-year enrollment and assumed that 20% of those spots could be taken by foreign students). This yields a total of 217,000 estimated spots for students from low-income countries each year. The total potential direct cost for this number of students is USD 8.8bn per year.
Table 1: Study conditions for low-income country students across countries
|Country||Total cost of tuition + first-year living expenses||Average salary||How many years of average salary to earn back entire BA degree cost?||Estimated number of spots for foreign students per year||Financing volume per year|
Malengo’s scaling timeline is shown in Table 2. We sent 7 and 17 students to Germany in 2021 and 2022, and are in the process of sending 120 in 2023, as well as a pilot cohort of 10 students to France. In 2024, we plan to add Belgium, followed by Austria, Italy, and Switzerland (2025); Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands (2026); Denmark, Spain, Ireland (2027); and Norway (2028). We project that the number of students can grow by a factor of about 2.9 each year. At this rate, the program will reach 38,000 students per year by 2030, for a total financing volume of USD 4.3bn/year in direct costs.
Table 2: Scaling plan for Malengo, 2022–2030
|Per-student cost of tuition and living expenses||Estimated maximum number of students per year||2021||2022||2023||2024||2025||2026||2027||2028||2029||2030|
|New students per year||7||17||130||410||930||2,080||4,980||9,930||18,260||38,680|
|Cumulative total of students||7||24||154||564||1,494||3,574||8,554||18,484||36,744||75,424|
|Direct cost per year||$95,372||$231,617||$1,809,336||$5,566,489||$12,976,086||$31,853,236||$86,841,514||$199,857,666||$467,405,628||$1,215,409,166|
 About 9% of students in high-income countries are from abroad.