WENR, August 2012: Europe


New British Council Insight Studies Offer Clues on International Student Motivations

Students in key source countries considering graduate education are more likely to use agents than those looking at undergraduate opportunities, according to the latest Student Insight [1] findings, produced by the British Council’s Education Intelligence Unit [2]. The study covers the motivations of students in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt and Turkey.

According to the study, almost half of all students in Turkey choose their international study destination based primarily on what they believe future employers will value. In Indonesia, accessibility to scholarships is the most significant factor, and in India, quality of education, career prospects and the cultural experience are key considerations.

The reports, which are available in full for a fee, also detail where in each country most prospective students may be based; what their interests and hobbies are and which social networking sites they are most likely to use. Only 3 percent of Indian students said they were interested in moving overseas permanently. Approximately 82 percent of Egyptian survey respondents who indicated interest in studying overseas were at the graduate level and over 60 percent of those were currently employed.

And 53 percent of students did their own research into study options; no undergraduate students used the services of an agency, although some did for graduate study. Among Indonesians, the British Council and education exhibitions were among the most used information sources. And in Turkey, the website/prospectus of an awarding institution was rated as the single most important information source.

PIE [3]
July 30, 2012

European English-Language Study Options and Destinations

A recent article in Britain’s The Telegraph newspaper uses a series of annotated slideshows, with information derived from an IIE briefing paper, English-Taught Master’s Programs in Europe: New Findings on Supply and Demand, to examine the explosive growth in English-taught degree programs in continental Europe over the past five years.

According to IIE data, the number of English-taught masters programs available in Europe has risen dramatically in the last five years to 4,664, up from 1,500 in 2007 and just 560 in 2002.

The top 10 European countries offering the most English-taught masters programs are: 1. Netherlands 2. Germany 3. Sweden 4. Spain 5. France 6. Switzerland 7. Italy 8. Belgium 9. Finland 10. Denmark

The full Telegraph article and slideshow is available here [4].

The Telegraph [5]
August 3, 2012


Report Says Excellence Initiative Has Had Little Impact on German Universities

Germany’s Excellence Initiative was introduced eight years ago and allows German universities to compete for billions of dollars in additional public funding to promote standards of international excellence.

In those eight years, the initiative has been responsible for the distribution of US$2.3 billion to 40 universities. However, a recent report [6] by the Social Science Research Center, in Berlin, raises key questions about the program, saying it has failed to create a more diverse higher-education sector and produced few lasting changes at universities. The report states that many institutions have set up similar programs and collaborative structures, with an emphasis on research, and to the detriment of teaching, entrepreneurship, and other activities. The report also says that universities have failed to build new partnerships with non-university research centers; a goal of the initiative.

Other German higher-education experts disagree with the report’s negative assessment.

Bernd Huber, president of Ludwig Maximilian University [7], a Munich institution that expects to receive more than 460 million euros (US$559 million) as part of the Excellence Initiative, says the program has enhanced the visibility of his university, nationally and abroad, and helped to attract donors. Horst Hippler, president of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology [8] also takes issue with the charge that the Excellence Initiative hasn’t forged significant new partnerships. His institution, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, is the result of a 2009 merger of the University of Karlsruhe and one of Germany’s Helmholtz research centers.

“This would never have happened without the Excellence Initiative,” he says. The program is set to end in five years from now.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [9]
July 23, 2012

Germany Third Most Popular Study Destination for Chinese Students

More Chinese students study abroad than any other nationality, and their third most popular study destination is Germany, where science and engineering professionals are in high demand. The top two host countries for Chinese students are the United States and Great Britain. In Germany, as in many host countries around the world, China is the number one source of international students, and most of them are enrolled in science or engineering programs.

According to a recent article in Deutsche Welle, the appeal of Germany, which is often a second-choice destination for many Chinese students, is the lack of tuition fees. The article also points out that Chinese students face similar issues in Germany as they do in English-language destinations, including difficulty integrating with German peers and a lack of language skills, making learning and socializing even more of a challenge.

Deutsche Welle [10]
August 1, 2012

Germany Fourth Most Popular Study Destination Globally

The latest mobility figures from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) show that over 250,000 foreign students were enrolled in German institutions in 2011, representing 11.4 percent of all students in the country.

According to a press release accompanying the ‘Wissenschaft weltoffen [11]‘ report, which the German Academic Exchange Service publishes annually in cooperation with the HIS-Institute for Research on Higher Education [12], the top five sources of students are from China, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, and Austria. Approximately a third of all foreign students in Germany come from Asia, with reports earlier this year indicating that enrollments from India were on the rise. Germany’s key overseas markets last year were Europe (141,500 students), Asia (72,300), Africa (21,500) and the Americas (15,300). Germany is the fourth most popular study destination after the U.S., UK and Australia, according to OECD data.

In 2011, the number of Chinese students enrolled at German universities was 24,443, which is a slight increase on 2010, but down from a high of 27,390 in 2006. There are currently an estimated 750 cooperation agreements between German and Chinese universities.

DAAD [13]
July 26, 2012

New Post-Study Work Rights Enacted

Germany’s Act implementing the European Union directive on entry and residence of highly qualified workers came into force on August 6, 2012. With the passage of the act, foreign students may remain in Germany for 18 months after graduation to look for qualified jobs, instead of only 12 months, as was the case previously.

Graduates may work without time limits during this search phase. Once they have found work in keeping with their qualifications, they no longer require the consent of the German Federal Employment Agency. Also, under certain circumstances, they will be eligible for a residency permit – or an indefinite right of residence – after two years. Foreign students can now also work while studying for a total of 120 days, instead of 90 days before the passage of the bill. The act exceeds the EU targets and presents foreign students, scientists and researchers with new opportunities in Germany.

– Study in Germany
August 6, 2012


Government Launches English-Language Website to Promote Universities Abroad

The Italian Ministry of Education [14] has launched a new, bilingual website to promote Italian universities both at home and abroad. The web initiative has been launched in combination with ongoing efforts aimed at increasing the number of foreign students in the country, which has historically been low.

Currently, just 3.3 percent of Italy’s higher education enrollments are international. UniversItaly [15], which is available in English and Italian, allows users to browse programs offered by Italian universities, compare tuition fees, potential scholarships and services, and access orientation advice.

Italian universities have been increasing the number of programs offered in English, with the leading Politecnico di Milano [16] recently announcing that from 2014 all graduate programs will be offered in English. The new website lists 37 universities currently offering courses in English.

Overseas students will also be able to register to take the IMAT admission test for Italian medical schools (where degrees are commonly taught in English) through the portal. Cambridge Assessment [17] is helping the government deliver the test in English from next September, broadening access for major markets such as China and the US.

PIE News [18]
July 16, 2012


One in Five Universities to Disappear in Next 3 Years

Dimitry Livanov, the minister of education and science, said that one in five universities could be shut down or forced to merge over the next two or three years, as he seeks to implement President Vladimir Putin’s order to reorganize state universities.

Putin said: “There is a need to identify inefficient universities by the end of the current year. At the same time the program of restructuring, including through mergers with strong universities, should be developed and approved prior to May 2013.”

According to Livanov, there are plans to cut up to a fifth of domestic universities and about 30 to 35 percent of university branches. Russia has some 600 universities, with more than 1,400 branches. He has also announced plans to cut the number of state-funded places in Russian universities by half. Not surprisingly the news has been met with consternation from student bodies.

The minister said that identification of inefficient universities and branches would be based on the results of state monitoring of their activities, which would be completed by the end of the current year. Early next year the ministry will prepare proposals on optimizing the network of state universities, with closures beginning during the 2013-14 academic year.

University World News [19]
August 1, 2012


Strong Franc Leads to Drop in European Enrollments for Swiss Universities

Swiss universities are reporting declines in applications from students around the world, and especially from other European countries. Observers have suggested that the strong Swiss franc and recent tuition increases for foreign students at a number of universities has been to blame, especially as some European countries do not charge tuition.

However, while foreign students may be staying away, the strength of the franc against the euro means Switzerland remains extremely attractive as a place to work for nationals from neighboring countries such as Austria, Germany and France, according to the Swiss newspaper NZZ.

The Local [20]
July 16, 2012


Increased University Autonomy Under New Law

A new law on higher education scheduled for adoption at the end of this year could bring major changes to Ukrainian higher education. The new law introduces several reforms, one of the most important of which is the expansion of universities’ financial autonomy, by allowing them to manage funds themselves. This is expected to help universities to improve their resource base.

Universities will also be able to organize academic activities without intervention from the Ministry of Education [21]. In addition, the new bill aims to attract foreign scientists to Ukrainian universities by simplifying the process of recognizing foreign degrees, and to increase student scholarships to a living wage.

However, the new law has already sparked fierce protests from some representatives of the Ukrainian student community, as well as universities. Some students claim the new law could allow universities to raise tuition fees without consultation.

According to the Ukrainian government, the adoption of the new law may accelerate the adoption of some other crucial decisions for the Ukrainian system of higher education, such as a reduction in the number of universities in the country -currently 900 -as well as an increase in state funding for higher education.

Royal Society of Chemistry [22]
July 31, 2012

United Kingdom

Recruiting Agents Cost UK Universities Close to $100 Million

According to a recent investigation by Times Higher Education, British universities recruited more than 50,000 international students through commission payments to overseas agents last year, at a cost of close to 60 million pounds (more than US$93 million).

Using data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Times Higher Education found that 100 universities enrolled 51,027 students in 2011, or the nearest recorded period, via a ­process involving agents paid on a commission basis. This represents a significant proportion of all international students in Britain. In 2010-11, 174,225 non-European Union students enrolled on higher education programs in the country, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency [23].

Payments made in 2010-11 do not relate exclusively to students recruited in 2011, but the figures suggest that universities paid approximately $1,500 in agent fees for each student enrolled. Almost all money paid to recruitment agents was on a per-student commission basis.

Times Higher Education [24]
July 5, 2012

Private College Awarded Right to Issue Degrees

A private college in London has been given the power to award its own degrees in a move the government says will increase competition in England’s higher education system.

Regent’s College [25] says it hopes to get university status in the near future. It is one of two private colleges given degree-awarding powers in July and the first to get the right since the coalition government came to power. The identity of the second college has not yet been made public.

Until now, people studying at Regent’s College have received degrees through its partnerships with various universities and institutions, including the Open University. Students study for British and American degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels. Most pay fees of about £14,000 (US$22,000) a year.

BBC [26]
July 27, 2012

UK and US Have Worst Student Visa Regimes According to Students

The United Kingdom has the worst post-study employment regulations of the top four English-speaking study destinations while the US is the least visa friendly, a student decision-making survey from IDP [27] has revealed. However, both destinations are thought to offer the best education – still the most important factor when deciding where to study abroad.

The IDP Student Buyer Survey [28] polled 174 students from Asia and the Middle East on their views of the major English speaking destination countries, how they obtained information about countries and institutions, and the key factors that drove their choices about where to study. According to the survey results, the most important factors for study abroad among students from the two regions were quality of education (cited by 17%) and international recognition of qualifications (16%). This was followed by recognition of qualification in the home country (12%), employment opportunities after graduation (10%) and affordability (7%).

By country, all students ranked international ranking/ reputation as most important when choosing an institution abroad, but secondary concerns varied. Program structure and content was key for Indians, international recognition by potential employers for Chinese, and affordability for those from the Middle East.

While the UK and US led as quality destinations, students said Australia had the best post-study work opportunities (followed by the US), while Canada was most affordable, safe and visa friendly. The UK was said to be the least affordable.

IDP [28]
July 2012

Indian Students Turned Off By British Visa Policies

With the withdrawal of a post-work visa option and tougher visa rules, British higher education has become a less attractive option for Indian students, according to a recent article in University World News. The article cites consultants and students who say that the UK is being replaced by Canada and Australia as the preferred destinations for graduate study.

According to a recent Student Insight report on India [29], recently released by the British Council’s Education Intelligence unit, only 3 percent of 1,200 Indian students surveyed said they wanted to move overseas permanently. Rather, respondents said that career prospects, program quality and wanting the cultural experience of living overseas were by far the main drivers for both prospective undergraduate and graduate students. Nonetheless, the British government says it is tightening its rules because too many students use the study-abroad route as a bridge to migration.

Another report [30] from the MigrationWatch [31] think-tank, published in July, found that the rate of potential refusals by the UK Border Agency for student visas was high for India – around 59 percent, compared to a reported 0 percent for the US and Canada and an overall average for main source countries of around 33 percent.

After changes to UK visa rules, students can no longer remain in the country to work. This, according to Indian students, is a major deterrent. In Australia, students can stay and work for two years post-graduation to pay off tuition costs. In Canada, a post-study work permit can be issued up to a maximum of three years, depending on the length of the study program that the student completes.

Australian universities have witnessed a surge in applications from Indian students, whose numbers have shot up by 16 percent and are expected to rise further. More than 32,500 student visa applications by Indians were filed from July 2011-March 2012, as compared to 28,067 during the corresponding period last year, according to latest official data.

University World News [32]
July 26, 2012

Brazilian Scholarship Students Fail UK Language Tests, Head to the US

More than 100 Brazilian students who had planned to enroll at UK universities under Brazil’s Science Without Borders scholarship program have gone to the United States after failing to meet language requirements set by the UK Border Agency.

In all, 130 Science Without Borders scholars chose to study in the United States rather than retake the language exams, which could have delayed their studies, Helena Gasparian, head of the Cultural and Academic Section at the Brazilian Embassy in London, told Times Higher Education. The US Department of State sets no minimum language requirement to obtain a student visa, although individual universities may require standards.

Confusion over the UK visa process has also contributed to a lower than expected overall demand for places in UK institutions, said Juliana Bertazzo, who is responsible for education cooperation at the embassy. The scheme was launched in December for students in science, technology, engineering and math subjects. Under original agreements, it was hoped that over the four years of the program, 10,000 students would study in the UK, the same number as expected to travel to the US. So far, however, just 580 are scheduled to take up places in September, compared with 2,000 for the US and more than 1,000 for Canada.

Times Higher Education [33]
August 2, 2012

Universities UK: British Universities Welcome International Students

The president of Universities UK [34] reaffirmed in July that the nation’s universities are welcoming to international students and that it is a myth that it has become more difficult for international students to study in Britain.

“The UK remains a global leader in higher education. It continues to be one of the most attractive study destinations in the world,” said Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, the organization that represents UK universities.

“In London alone, 25 percent of the student population are international students, and we expect the number of overall enrollments to rise this year,” said Thomas at a meeting of London businesses.

Although changes to the visa system last year have led many foreign students to believe that it is harder to study in the UK, Thomas says this is not the case.  “I want to make this very clear: there is no cap on international students coming to the UK. Yes there have been a number of changes to the visa system, but there is nothing to prevent legitimate students from obtaining a visa if they meet the UK Border Agency’s requirements,” he said.

Dr Jo Beall, director of education and society at the British Council, added that they are working closely to try and dispel the negative perceptions from international students. “The idea of how welcoming we are is quite negative but, in reality, there is a big gap between the perceptions and the reality,” she said.

London Media Center [35]
July 28, 2012

Immigration Officers to Test Foreign Language Skills During Visa Interviews

Students who have applied for visas to study in the UK and who have already passed approved language tests could be prevented from taking places at colleges or universities if immigration officers judge that their English is not good enough. The new powers of visa veto were given to visa officers around the world at the end of July in a bid to bar fraudulent applicants, but students could be failed by staff who are not trained language assessors say critics of the new powers.

Announcing the rule change, UK immigration minister Damian Green said: “With more interviews and greater powers to refuse bogus students we will weed out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system.”

The UK Border Agency [36] (UKBA) said it expects to interview 14,000 students applying for Tier 4 student visas over the next 12 months: more than 5 percent of the 250,000 expected applicants. The interviews will be targeted at students from countries where risks of abuse are higher and who are applying to institutions that are not on the UKBA’s “highly trusted sponsor” list. Interviewees must be able to “demonstrate without the assistance of an interpreter” that their English meets the level of the test certificate they have submitted. Failure to do so, and failure to attend interviews, will result in their application being rejected.

The Guardian [37]
August 7, 2012