WENR, January/February 2015: Europe


Finland to Remain Tuition-Free for International Students

The Finnish government has abandoned plans to introduce tuition fees for non-EEA students, following an October proposal from Minister for Education Krista Kiuru to implement fees from 2016.

The government’s proposal suggested minimum tuition of €4,000 per year for non-Finnish or Swedish taught programs. Finland currently has around 20,000 international students studying in its higher education institutions.

In the same month as the Finnish government u-turn, December last year, the Norwegian parliament also voted down proposals to introduce fees for non-EAA students in Norwegian institutions, amid a backdrop of protests from international and domestic students and staff.

Finland and Norway, along with Germany and Iceland, remain the only four European countries to offer free university tuition for all students.

The PIE News [1]
January 9, 2015


International Students Worth €1.7bn to French Economy

The French economy benefitted from international students to the tune of a net US$2 billion in 2014, according to a report commissioned by Campus France [2]. Not surprisingly, the report, Au-delà de l’influence: l’apport économique des étudiants étrangers en France [3], found that Paris was the most popular region for study, attracting 28 percent of international students.

The cost of educating the 295,084 foreign students who studied in France in 2013-14 was approximately €2.84bn in tuition subsidies and €55m in scholarships. However, students were estimated to have spent €4.6bn in living costs, travel and tourism, netting the French economy €1.7 billion.

The report, which was carried out by marketing firm BVA, puts monthly living costs for international students at around €920, or €20,000 over an average stay of 22 months. Of the 4,200 students who took part in BVA’s online poll, 55 percent said that the cost of living and studying in France is “difficult” and 18 percent said it is “very difficult” to bear. Despite these responses, 70 percent said they feel that their study abroad experience has been a profitable investment.

Higher education is by far the most popular option for foreign students, three quarters of whom are enrolled at a French university. Of those students, half are studying on graduate programs. Africa is the biggest source region for incoming students, providing 43 percent of the total number, followed by 26 percent from Europe, 19 percent from Asia, 8 percent from the Americas, and 4 percent from the Middle East.

The PIE News [4]
January 5, 2015


Internationalization Booming in Germany

Growing numbers of academics and students are coming to Germany while the mobility of German university lecturers also appears to be on the rise. A recent survey, Profildaten zur Internationalität deutscher Hochschulen [5], on the internationality of German universities states that in mid-2014, around 31,000 collaborative programs were being run between nearly 300 institutions in Germany with about 5,000 higher education partners in 150 countries.

More than half these programs involve exchange of students and higher education staff in the context of the European Union’s Erasmus program. The survey is one of a series first launched in 2008 and compiled annually by the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, in cooperation with the German Rectors’ Conference and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The overall share of foreign first-year students saw an increase of 13 percent in 2014, to 16 percent of the total student body, with the largest number (29 percent) at universities of technology. Technical subjects are particularly attractive to foreign students and academics but this also appears to apply to art and music universities, where foreigners account for up to 70 percent of students.

University World News [6]
January 15, 2015

Northern Ireland

Queens University Belfast Tops UK Social Media Rankings

A new comparative ranking tool measuring the success and reach of UK education institutions’ social media marketing strategies was launched in January by education marketing company Net Natives [7]. In its third year ranking universities, the company has overhauled the formula it uses to focus more closely on user engagement, as opposed to just institution-generated content, as a barometer of success.

Edu Rank [8] provides separate listings for UK universities, colleges and business schools, as well as a separate category for universities that run distinct social media channels targeting international students. Social engagement is measured in four categories – popularity, activity, participation and reaction – based on statistics such as their total number of Facebook fans, as well as the number of posts, likes, comments, shares and new shares they have accumulated in the last month.

Queen’s University Belfast currently tops the table with a score of 9.2, but with 26,023 fans on Facebook, the Northern Irish university trails significantly behind the University of Oxford which has an impressive 2,094,756 fans but comes in at 89th place with a score of just 5.7. Loughborough University currently holds second position in the overall ranking, followed by Edge Hill University and the University of the West of Scotland. Meanwhile, the international list is topped by the University of London, London Metropolitan University, Cambridge International Examinations and the University of Greenwich.

The PIE News [9]
January 19, 2015


Top 15 Universities to Launch Joint International Recruitment Vehicle

The 15 universities that make up Russia’s Global Universities Association are creating a collaborative center to recruit foreign students.

Maxim Khomyakov, the director of the center and vice-rector for international affairs at Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, told Russia Beyond the Headlines that the center would open at the beginning of this year. However, “it will only have a minimal impact on the group [of foreign students] in 2015,” Khomyakov said. “We can expect serious results by September 2016, because in most countries applicants for 2015 have already decided where they will matriculate in terms of both country and university.”

The center’s primary function is to help universities attract top-quality students to fulfill their subsidy quotas for foreigners. Quotas for foreign students – 20,000 were allocated to all of Russia’s universities in 2015 – are currently distributed by the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and the International Humanitarian Cooperation.

Russia Beyond the Headlines [10]
January 15, 2015

United Kingdom

International Enrollments Up 3%, Despite Plummeting India Numbers

Figures [11] published in January by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that while non-EU student numbers in UK higher education rose across undergraduate and graduate programs by 3 percent in 2013/14 compared to the previous year, Indian and Pakistani numbers continued their free fall while EU numbers stagnated.

India remains the second largest non-EU source of international students for UK universities, but the total number of India enrollments fell 12 percent last year, while Pakistani numbers dropped 7 percent. Meanwhile China, the largest non-EU source country, saw a 5 percent increase which now means that Chinese enrollments in UK higher education institutions outnumber the rest of the EU put together (bar the UK). Elsewhere, the most positive non-EU country growth was seen in Malaysian and Hong Kong numbers, up 11 percent and 13 percent respectively, driven largely by transnational education programs.

Post-study work regulations have been identified as the main reason why students from the Indian subcontinent are staying away from UK universities, especially as other competitor nations sweeten their labor and immigration policies for international students.

In Scotland, universities saw a 2 percent decline in first-year student enrollments from China, a 12 percent decline from India and a 9 percent drop from Nigeria. Nonetheless, overall international student recruitment at Scottish universities is up by 1 percent. Universities Scotland, which represents university leaders, renewed calls for the Scottish and UK governments to give urgent attention to the introduction of a post-study work visa for international students.

The PIE News [12]
January 15, 2015

Cabinet Blocks Ministers Move to Further Stiffen Work-Study Visa Requirements

Senior members of the UK’s Conservative party have blocked plans to require international graduates to apply for working visas from their home countries, as outlined in December by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Just before Christmas, Ms. May announced plans to reduce student migration to zero by requiring all non-EU students to return home after graduation even if they have secured employment within the allotted timeframe, and then apply for a work visa before coming back to the UK.

Ms. May wanted the Conservatives to include the measure in their election manifesto, arguing that tougher controls were needed on non-EU students who she says are a key driver of net migration. But senior Conservative officials told the Financial Times the measure will not be included in the party’s manifesto, saying it would be damaging to the British economy.

“We have a policy that international students can stay when they graduate if they find a graduate-level job paying £24,000 a year,” one official said. “That remains the policy.”

The Financial Times [13]
January 6, 2015

A Total of 65 Colleges Lose Licenses to Enroll International Students

A government crackdown on testing and visa fraud has resulted in 65 private colleges losing their Highly Trusted Status (HTS) enabling them to recruit Tier 4 international students. This is the latest and presumed to be final statistic from a rolling investigation which started with license suspensions at 57 private colleges and evolved to encompass at least 75 private colleges.

And in all, over 5,000 refusal, curtailment or rejection decisions have been made due to a sustained investigation into fraudulent TOEIC exam results being used to obtain student visas that began in June 2014. All but six of the original list of 57 colleges that had their HTS licenses suspended have since had it revoked or surrendered it voluntarily.

More than 33,725 invalid TOEIC test results have now been reported by ETS Global to the Home Office, along with 22,694 questionable results – up from 19,000 and 29,000 respectively at the time of the original announcement and investigation.

The Home Office began sending out letters to students who were either studying at or had an open application from one of the colleges in question in December, instructing them to find a new provider within 60 days or to leave the UK. More than 1,600 enforcement visits have been made and over 600 individuals have been served removal notices and detained.

The PIE News [14]
January 22, 2015