WENR, April 2015: Europe


Nordic Countries Lead Europe for English-Language Provision

The Nordic region has the greatest proportion of English-taught programs in Europe at the higher education level, according to a recent study by the Academic Cooperation Association.

The report [1]English-Taught Programs in European Higher Education, found that 61 percent of higher education institutions in the Nordic region are offering bachelor’s or master’s programs taught entirely in English. This is compared to 32 percent offering the same in 2007. One in five study programs are provided entirely in English across the Nordic region.

These countries also boast the highest proportion of students enrolled in English-taught programs, at 5 percent, compared with the 1.3 percent average European enrollment rate. In 2014, there were a total of 8,089 programs taught in English across Europe; a significant increase from 2,389 seven years ago. The southern regions of Europe have significantly less English-taught programs compared with the north, which is likely defined by the spread of the domestic languages.

The PIE News [2]
February 24, 2015


Chasing Bologna Membership

Belarus is determined to join the Bologna Process, Belarusian Education Minister Mikhail Zhuravkov said during his meeting with a delegation of experts of the Council of Europe in February.

“In our work towards joining the Bologna Process we have come to the point when we need to develop a legal framework. Now we can say with confidence that Belarus has a two-stage system of education with bachelor programs (from three to five years depending on the specialization) and master programs. We have started implementing a system of continuous education taking into consideration the two-stage system of higher education. We have introduced the possibility of getting PhD through thesis defense. Besides, now the PhD defense can be conducted in English. All the Belarusian universities started to run courses in English,” Zhuravkov told the Belta News Agency.

For his part, Head of the Education Department of the Council of Europe Sjur Bergan noted: “Today is an important day. We feel that Belarus wants to join the European Higher Education Area. We saw your eagerness during our meeting with representatives of the Education Ministry. Yesterday’s meetings showed us that Belarusian universities have many competent professors and students. The fact that we have come to Belarus proves that we are seriously considering your application. Otherwise we would not be here. We have come to give some recommendations and hope that the Belarusian ministers will adhere to them.”

Belta [3]
March 4, 2015


Private Universities Demand Action on Visa Regulations for Fear of Losing International Students

Private higher education institutions are demanding faster procedures to process student visas to third country nationals, saying Cyprus is losing the chance of becoming a regional education center.

DISY party MP Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis recently told the House education committee that the government needed a strategic plan. When university tuition fees, accommodation, food and transportation are taken into account, students spend 20 times more money than tourists, Hadjiyiannis said.

He argued that the rapid increase of foreign students in the north is pushing the government controlled areas out of the regional education map. “In contrast to the Republic, where bureaucracy and the lack of policies have stagnated the arrival of foreign students, we observe that the occupied areas have started to evolve into an education center,” Hadjiyiannis said.

Cyprus Mail [4]
February 22, 2015


International Students Contribute Significantly to Danish Economy Despite Free Tuition

A study into the financial impact of international students in Denmark over the last 16 years has found that foreign tertiary-level students made a net contribution of 165.5 million Danish krone (US$23.8 million) to the Danish economy. Students completing long-term degrees proved to be the most economically beneficial for the country.

The independent think tank DEA [5] used student immigration and earnings data up to 2012 to analyze the economic contributions of students who completed a degree in Denmark between 1996 and 2008, to ensure a minimum of four years’ data on each student.

According to DEA, the report could ease growing public concern that international students are a drain on public finances. Public speculation is mostly directed at students from within the European Union and European Economic Area as their fees are footed by the Danish government. However, the research concluded that the tax revenue generated by foreign graduates who remain in the country outweighs this expenditure by the state.

Almost 40 percent of the foreign students who completed a degree in Denmark between 1996 and 2000 were still in the country a year after graduation, according to DEA’s research. Among graduates who stayed on for over a year, the report found that the average length they were in Denmark was five and a half years.

The PIE News [6]
February 26, 2015


Growing International Mobility To and From Germany

Growing numbers of academics and students are coming to Germany while the mobility of German university lecturers appears to be on the rise. A recent survey, Profildaten zur Internationalität deutscher Hochschulen [7], on the internationalization 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 other 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. Overall, universities of technology and music and art universities scored the best marks in the survey. The share of foreign academic and art staff at the music and art institutions was 16 percent, a 20 percentage point increase compared to 2006. At the universities of technology, foreign scientists accounted for 14 percent of academic staff, up by 16 percentage points.

The overall share of foreign first-year students saw an increase of 13 percent, to 16 percent of the total, with the largest number (29 percent) at the 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.  Small universities and fachhochschulen scored relatively low values in the survey, one reason being that they find it more difficult to recruit students and academics.

University World News [8]
January 16, 2015


Overseas Study Numbers Drop Markedly

The number of Russian students applying to study abroad has dropped by between 25 percent and 30 percent this year, according to a leading consulting agency on foreign education. The economic crisis in Russia and devaluation of the national currency, the ruble, caused by Western sanctions, are behind the decline in demand, according to analysis by the Bureau of International Educational Programs.

Alexei Surin, CEO of the Bureau, said the drop in applicants may significantly increase if the current economic situation in Russia deteriorates further during the next few months. The problem is also aggravated by the government’s decision to cut funding from the existing state Global Education program in March. The program covered the costs of tuition for 1,500 Russian students studying in foreign universities each year, but will now only cater for 750 students.

According to data of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the current number of Russian students who study abroad is estimated at 50,000.

University World News [9]
March 25, 2015


Swiss Universities Most International in the World

For 2015, Times Higher Education has compiled a list of “The 100 most international universities in the world,” as a subset of the overall World University Rankings. The ranking found three Swiss universities to be the world’s most international.

In coming up with the ratings system, THE weighs three factors: the institution’s percentage of international staff; the number of international students attending the school; and the proportion of its research papers co-published with international authors. From these variables, an overall international outlook score is calculated from a possible 100 points.

Topping the list is the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne retaining the number one ranking form 2014. Over half of the school’s body is from overseas, with its strong research pedigree drawing a significant international population. Followed closely in the top ten are institutions from Singapore, England and France, as well as Australia. Over one third of all institutions in the ranking are from England, with the University of Oxford ranking best at number five.

Although many American schools, such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford are consistently ranked among the top in the world, they don’t even break the top 100 from an international standpoint.

Diplomatic Courier [10]
February 26, 2015


Restrictions Added to Holders of Foreign Diplomas Wishing to Practice Licensed Professions

The Higher Education Board in Turkey, known as YÖK, has imposed added measures to prevent graduates with foreign diplomas in medicine, law or engineering from automatically receiving accreditation to practice their profession in Turkey. Those with diplomas from universities outside the top 500 worldwide will need to get a pass grade in the Higher Education Examination-Undergraduate Placement Examination.

YÖK, Turkey’s higher education regulator, assessed complaints about diplomas given by universities in the Balkans, Middle East and Turkic republics. Many tour operators arrange for Turkish nationals to be admitted to such universities, which hand out diplomas without compulsory attendance or even any language proficiency. YÖK decided that most diplomas issued in this way could not be given equivalency documents.

Daily Sabah [11]
March 3, 2015

United Kingdom

Student Group Launches Manifesto for International Students

The UK Council for International Student Affairs [12] launched a “Manifesto for International Students” in February, which aims to change current rules and procedures surrounding international students in the UK.

The manifesto [13] outlines 10 key principles and recommendations, which aim to not only make the UK a more desirable place for international students, but to also re-establish trust in the country, increase student numbers, and advance the standing and influence of the UK in the world.

International student recruitment is worth £14 billion annually (US$22 billion), but in 2012/13, there was a decline in the number of overseas students applying to higher education institutions in the UK – the first decline in 29 years. While the figure increased last year there is still concern that confusing regulations are making life hard for students interested in studying in the UK.

The PIE News [14]
February 25, 2015

IELTS and Trinity Named as Only Approved ELT for UK Visa Applications

As of April 6, Trinity College London [15] and IELTS [16] will be the only two approved providers of Secure English Language Testing (SELT) used to support UK visa applications, as part of a raft of changes to visa laws laid before parliament in February.

There are currently four designated SELT providers, of which only TCL and IELTS, which is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment, may be used to prove English language proficiency in an immigration application once the changes come into force. IELTS will be the only SELT available worldwide, while the TCL exams must be taken in one of 10 exam centers around the UK.

The changed regulations, which follow a tender process beginning in Fall last year, mean that the City & Guilds IESOL, ESOL and ISESOL qualifications and Pearson Test of English Academic will no longer be designated SELTs.

The PIE News [17]
February 23, 2015

Report: UK Universities Over-reliant on Chinese and Government Funded International students

English universities have become over-reliant on recruiting graduate students from China and have developed a risky dependence on scholars funded by their own governments, according to new analysis by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

This will be challenged by a fast decline in China’s youth population, as well as China’s own efforts to become a study destination country, the paper warned. China’s 20-year-old population is expected to decline by 40 percent in the period from 2015 to 2020, compared with 2005 to 2010. English universities have also developed a risky dependence on attracting graduate students from countries with strong state-funded scholarship programs that are dependent on government funding priorities – such as Malaysia, Iraq and Libya.

“While this demonstrates the excellent value of an English postgraduate degree for overseas national governments, this may be an area of vulnerability if these countries shift their funding priorities,” the HEFCE report says. The paper, Global Demand for English Higher Education: Latest shifts and trends [18], also warned that although total international student numbers have recovered in England, the growth rate of these enrollments remain low compared with English-speaking competitor destinations.

The report noted that more than half of the students from China and Malaysia, the two countries driving growth at the undergraduate and graduate level, commenced their undergraduate degree through courses delivered by British institutions overseas.

University World News [19]
February 26, 2015

Asian Graduate Students Outnumber Domestic Students in 4 Fields

The share of taught graduate qualifications going to UK students has fallen from two-thirds to just over half as overseas students make up a growing proportion of enrollments, according to Times Higher Education. In four subject areas in 2013-14, the number of graduate degrees going to students from Asia alone was more than those going to UK students.

The analysis is based on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency that describe the number of graduate awards by subject and home region for 2003-04 and 2013-14. The total number of students awarded graduate taught qualifications increased by 43 percent, from 163,675 in 2003-04 to 233,245 in 2013-14.

The number of awards going to students from the Middle East almost tripled, while the number of qualifications for students from Africa and Asia more than doubled. Qualifications earned by all non-EU students grew by 120 percent compared with an increase of just 14 percent for UK students.

In five subject areas the proportion of taught graduate awards going to non-EU students in 2013-14 exceeded that going to home students. These were mathematics, computer science, engineering and technology, business and administrative studies and mass communications and documentation. For all these subjects – except mass communications and documentation – the number of such qualifications going to just Asian students outstripped that for home students.

Times Higher Education [20]
March 19, 2015

New Visa Regulations Cause Angst

Reforms to the UK’s visa regime that will require international students to get biometric residence permits and will reduce options for gaining English language qualifications abroad have caused fears that the UK could appear less welcoming to foreign students.

In a phased introduction that began in March, students from outside the European Union will enter the UK on a 30-day visa that will be converted into a visa covering the duration of their program only once they have obtained a biometric identity document. Reportedly, these will only be available at 200 post offices across the UK.

This has triggered concerns about the ability of post offices to cope with demand when thousands of learners arrive in the fall. Higher education organizations, including UKCISA: the UK Council for International Student Affairs, have lobbied the Home Office to allow students to collect the permits from their universities.

Meanwhile, there are worries that the government’s decision to accredit just one overseas provider of Secure English Language Tests, which assess learners’ eligibility to study in the UK, will result in a big drop in the number of exam centers worldwide. From April, students enrolling at private colleges and many pathway providers will be able to take only the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams as the two other accredited providers have decided not to continue.

Times Higher Education [21]
March 19, 2015

Report: UK Universities Need to Bring Websites into Mobile Age to Attract International Students

International students are increasingly using mobile devices to search for information on study abroad, and UK universities’ websites are failing to keep up, a new study has shown.

“In places like West Africa, where connectivity through landlines is very expensive, mobile phone usage and mobile advertising is going to be very persuasive in the next couple of years”

Over a quarter of inquiries made to student-facing website, Study International [22], in 2014 were via mobile, up from 11.9 percent the previous year, the company’s joint white paper Digital device trends among international students [23] shows. However, of the 121 university websites audited, 35 percent did not have mobile-friendly home pages and 40 percent did not have mobile-friendly international student pages. The study showed that Nigeria has the highest rate of mobile usage, at 35 percent, followed by Colombia (26%) and Malaysia (24%).

– The PIE News [24]
March 24, 2015