France improves in study abroad rankings, Germany remains number one
In the 2018 edition of the Study.EU Country Ranking, Germany once more ranks as the most attractive country for international students, followed by the United Kingdom and France.
Thirty European countries were ranked based on scores in three dimensions: Education, Cost, and Life & Career. Germany’s offer of mostly tuition-free, world-class universities remains hard to outrank. But the United Kingdom caught up in points, only held back by its prohibitively high cost of living and tuition fees. France moved up ahead of the Netherlands, and Russia made its way into the top 5. Poland enters the top 10 with a much improved score for education.
Cost is almost as important to students as quality of education
The key question addressed by the ranking is: Which European countries are the best choices for full-time degree students? Compiling a range of carefully selected input factors, countries were given scores in three categories, with differing weights for the overall score:
- Education (45%) considers a country’s performance in three established international university rankings (QS, THE, ARWU), indicators of teaching quality as well as the number of study programmes that are taught in English;
- Cost (30%), the second-most important factor, considers a country’s average cost of living plus the average tuition fees both for EU/EEA citizens as well as for non-European students; lower costs meaning a higher score;
- Life & Career (25%) considers a range of factors with regards to the quality of life and career perspectives for international graduates.
New ranking factor: Safety
This year, the country ranking takes into account personal safety as a factor in the Life & Career category. “We have noticed that students are increasingly concerned with the safety in their host countries” says Study.EU CEO Gerrit Bruno Blöss. The score for personal safety is based on analyses in the Social Progress Index and includes, for instance, homicide rates, rates of other violent crimes and incidents of political terror. “Based on those statistics, most of the countries in our European ranking are safer than, for example, the United States,” Blöss adds.
Mobility keeps increasing – Brexit effects beyond 2019 unclear
“Compared to last year, there has been a noticeable increase of programmes offered in English” observes Blöss. “Universities on the continent are preparing for Brexit: They expect European students to seek alternatives to the UK in the coming years.”
While the EU and the UK have in principle agreed that students should retain equal rights in both domains for the initial post-Brexit phase, many educators worry that studying in Britain will become more difficult or more expensive for Europeans. If that is the case, British universities 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 UK benefit from the positive economic impact of having international students.”