Flows of students abroad are increasing rapidly, encouraged by globalisation pressures, by declining quality of university provision in some of the poorest states and by the income needs of northern universities. Students from developing countries are increasingly self-financed, from middle-income countries and from richer families across all countries. The paper argues that both the direct and indirect impacts of these trends on poverty in sending states are likely to be negative. Some increased influence on home policy-formation by the overseas Indian and Chinese diaspora, and increased flows of return migrants to high-growth states in response to targeted recruitment incentives, provide evidence for countervailing tendencies. But for most developing countries, where economic growth is less dynamic, net benefits of international education for poverty alleviation remain unrealised.