The student-housing sector has experiences a boom as an alternative real estate asset class over the last few years. A large part of the success of this sector is due to the demand from international students for high quality accommodation when studying in the United Kingdom.

The continued success of the student-housing sector in the UK is dependent upon there being large annual inflows of international students. However, despite the importance of international students to the UK economy, and the increased importance of the student-housing sector, there has been very little academic or commercial research examining the current magnitude of international student flows or how these flows can be expected to change over time.

In this paper, we develop a spatial interaction model and demonstrate how it can be employed to illustrate international higher education student flows at the national level. We model existing variations in student flows and, using the UK as an example, show how different economic circumstances and government policies can effect international student inflows and outflows.

After testing our model against UNESCO data, we conclude that spatial interaction modelling is an effective tool for analysing and evaluating existing student flows and how these flows might adjust if the economic fortunes or policy environments of individual countries change.