Planning Study Abroad? The 10 Best European Countries For International Students
Germany appears at the top of a list, followed by Great Britain and France, of the 30 European countries included in a new study of the most popular destinations chosen by foreign students for college.
In its most recent edition, Study.EU Country Ranking mentions the "Trump Effect" as one of the factors "making Europe more desirable to degree-seeking students from the U.S, Africa and Asia."
At the same time the research foresees that British universities, for their part, "will increase their efforts to recruit students from other continents. Higher education is not only a source of Britain's political 'soft power', it is also a significant export. Many regions in the U.K. benefit from the positive economic impact of having international students."
The study ranked the countries according to three categories: education, costs and life and career. Germany, which offers mostly free tuition at its world-class universities came out on top with a total score of 80.7 out of 100.
"Where Germany has made a considerable improvement is in the number of courses offered in English," said Gerrit Bloss, CEO of Study.EU. "While the U.K. and Ireland dominate this metric, offering almost all courses in English, Germany is second only to the Netherlands in the amount of courses students can study in English."
Germany, according to The Local, has seen an increasing number of domestic students going abroad, in turn pushing the country to attract more international students.
"Nearly 2,000 of the 18,000 post-secondary courses to choose from in Germany cater to students from abroad and are conducted in the English language," the paper writes. Twelve percent of the country's students are foreign.
The tuition at state-run universities in Germany for both local and international students is primarily free. Administrative fees are calculated between €100 and €500 per semester. The overall living cost is around €800 - €1,000 a month.
Britain, with some of the best reputed universities in the world, appears at the top spot for "education," and for "life & career" but ranks merely 30th for "cost" as a result of high living expenses and extremely high tuition fees. Yet it ranks second on the overall list with a score of 75.8 (out of 100). "The looming Brexit may have adverse effects on the country's ranking in the coming years," the study warns.
France, with a score of 68.6, is an attractive alternative for its highly-reputed yet affordable higher education system - moving up a spot from the prior year to third on the list, just ahead of the Netherlands.
Among the top "newcomers," with a 60.1 score, is Poland. "Among last year's most affordable countries, Polish universities have consistently increased the availability of English-taught study options," the study finds. "The number of foreign students in Poland has exploded from just 12,000 to over 65,000 in the past 10 years."
Other countries with the top 10 overall scores are the Netherlands with 67.9, Russia with 62.6, Switzerland 62.2, Sweden 61.3, Belgium 60.4 and Italy 60.1.
In terms of the individual factors considered in the study, quality of education accounted for 45% of the overall score. To assess that factor on 800 universities in 30 countries, the study considered performance in university rankings, staff-to-student ratios, results of academic reputation surveys and number of Bachelor's and Master's programs taught in English.
The U.K. landed top in that category with 86.7 points, followed by Germany with 64.0, Netherlands 61.3, France 53.4, Russia 49.6, Switzerland 47.2, Ireland 46.8, Sweden 46.6, Italy 43.1, and Spain 38.1.
The cost factor stood for 30% of the total score and is highly relevant because, as the study notes, "affordability is a main consideration for most students and very few are lucky enough to enjoy full scholarships."
Considering cost-of-living, including rent and tuition, Poland is the most affordable with annual cost of €7,000. Germany is the only one from the overall top ones that made the top 10 in the cost category.
The other nine at the top of the list for affordability are Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Lithuania and Latvia.
In the life and career section, the study observes that "studying abroad offers a wealth of life experience beyond the classroom. Most students that go abroad for their degrees plan to return home after graduation. Others choose their destination with the hope of staying and working in that country after university."
Among the criteria to measure this category, which counts for 25% of the overall ranking, are quality of life, with indicators relevant to all students, such as English proficiency among the population, the U.N. happiness index ranking and unemployment rates. It also considers metrics that help judge the job market's openness to foreign graduates.
This year, the study added a score for personal safety. "Students, especially from outside Europe, are increasingly concerned with the safety situation in their host countries," it explains. "Working with data from the Social Progress Index, this metric includes, for example, a country's homicide rate, other violent crimes and incidences of political terror."
It adds that "students coming to Europe rarely have to worry: Almost all countries in the sample are very safe in comparison to other parts of the world."
The 10 top countries in the "life and career" category are the U.K. with 88, Ireland 87.6, Iceland 87.4, Norway 86,4, Netherlands 85, Sweden 84.9, Switzerland 84.5, Denmark 84.4, Germany 83.4 and Austria 82.8.