Burma - Country Commercial Guide

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-27


In Burma, a significant education sector reform began when the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government took power in April 2016.  The government laid out top priorities and announced increased budgets for the education sector.  Between 2013 and 2018, the allotted budget for reforming the education sector rose by approximately 8.5 percent of the total government spending.  A new National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021 (NESP) was being implemented by the NLD government to transform the national education system and to achieve improvements in teaching and learning in all educational institutions.  The NESP is a comprehensive, widely owned, and evidence-based roadmap intended to reform the entire education sector over the next five years. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the military coup in February 2021, the improvements to the education reforms remain a work in progress, which give way to signs of student unease and an increased interest in outbound mobility.

Since 2015, the country has been experiencing increasing demand for high-quality education services. To meet the increasing demand, Local training centers have begun collaborating with educational institutions in the United Kingdom (UK) and establishing international diploma programs with local foreign graduates and experienced professors.  The international education market has grown significantly, and by December 2020, there were approximately 35 local private training centers offering a variety of certificate and diploma courses in business management, finance, marketing, project management, information technology, engineering, accounting, and tourism, as well as 15 private training centers that offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs from the UK, ASEAN, and European countries.  In addition, there are more than 20 international schools operating in Yangon and Mandalay offering nursery, high school, and international college preparatory programs due to the high demand in the market.

Furthermore, international schools and educational agencies that collaborate with foreign universities are on the rise for overseas study, especially in Yangon and Mandalay.  Between 2015 and 2018, the ’country’s outbound student mobility rate increased by 49 percent, from 7,669 to 10,277 students (UNESCO Institute of Statistics - UIS).  Thailand and Singapore are the primary international host countries for Burmese students. Japan, China, and Malaysia are additional Asian destinations.  Moreover, there are also students from Burma studying in India, Hong Kong, and Korea. The UK, U.S., and Australia are the leading educational destinations in the Western world.

According to the Institute of International Education Open Doors 2020 Report, there were 1,828 students studying in the United States, a 71% increase over 2015 (1,067 students). 73% are enrolled in undergraduate programs, 12% in graduate programs, 2.8% in non-degree programs, and 11.7% in Optional Practical Training. The favorite states of Burmese students are New York 13%, California 30%, and Massachusetts 6.2% (SEVIS Data, 2020).  The main area of study for Burmese students includes business management, financial management, project management, hospitality, accounting, marketing, engineering, and information technology.

Type of Education







 percent change 2019-2020
















Optional Practical Training






Leading sub-sectorsSource: Institute of International Education Open Doors 2020 Report

Community Colleges: The community college concept is gaining popularity in Burma as students and parents now realize that the concept is an effective and economical route to transfer to high-ranked four-year universities.  Burma ranks 25th among international students enrolled in community colleges in the United States in 2020, accounting for 0.7% of all international students (approximately 554 students).  Local education agents play an essential role in promoting the community college concept in Burma.  Many U.S. community colleges have partnered with local study abroad agents to recruit Burmese students.  There are about 10-15 reputable education agents in Burma working with universities and colleges from various countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Korea, Japan, U.K., the United States, and Canada.

Four-Year Degree and Master Programs: Local education agents and counseling services have partnered with many American universities to promote U.S. graduate and postgraduate programs to Burmese students.  

Technical and Vocational Training Services (TVET): In Burma, the shortage of skilled labor is a significant challenge. There is a massive need to provide technical and vocational training services to Burma’s labor force to meet the ASEAN TVET skills standard. Aware of this skill gap, the Government of Burma formed a TVET task force to advance cooperation among ministries and the public and private sectors to enhance the labor force’s capacity in Burma.  According to the NESP, Burma needs many skilled workers for the agriculture, energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, franchise, and tourism sectors. Technical and vocational training services will play a key role in fulfilling this demand.


People in Burma now realize the importance of quality education, and parents are willing to invest in their children’s education to have good career opportunities after graduation.  The local learning centers actively seek potential partnerships with U.S. education institutes and universities for undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs.  According to some learning centers, Burmese students prefer to have more options and desperately wait for U.S. transactional programs.  This is the right time for U.S. education service providers to consider entering the Burma market since the government allows foreign education service providers to invest 100 percent in private schools, technical, vocational, and training schools, higher education schools and universities, subject-based schools, and private schools designated by the Ministry of Education, according to the Notification 7/2018 released by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) in April 2018.  This is very encouraging for U.S. education service providers to invest in Burma’s significantly booming education sector.

Appoint a Local Representative

Education service providers/local representation play a critical role in the success of American colleges and universities in the Burmese market.  Students and parents feel at ease seeking advice on issues such as the school admission process and guidelines from experts, advisors, and counselors based in the country who have a broader understanding of schools and policies.  Numerous U.S. colleges and universities have appointed local education providers to promote their schools and recruit Burmese students.

Exhibit at Education Fairs

In 2020 and 2021, Burma held several virtual education fairs.  It is an excellent opportunity for university recruiters to meet and interact with prospective students.

EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 400 international student advising centers in more than 170 countries.  EducationUSA organizes annual education fairs each year around the world, including in Burma.  More than 35 U.S. colleges and universities participated in the most recent fairs in Yangon and Mandalay.  Further information about studying in the United States is available on the EducationUSA website and from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. State Department.


Bureau of Consular Affairs Report & Statistics

Education USA Burma (Myanmar)

Ministry of Education

Open Doors International Education Exchange

U.S. Embassy in Burma – Study in the U.S.A. 

SEVIS 2020 Data Mapping Tool Data

UIS Statistics

Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service

Htet Ye Win

Commercial Assistant

Email: htetye.win@trade.gov