While many prospective students tend to think of the United Kingdom and the United States first when considering where they want to study abroad – a new study argues that Germany is now their best bet in Europe.
Drawing from university ranking data, governmental and university organisation statistics, Study.EU ranked 30 European countries across three dimensions: Education (45%), measuring the quality of education; Cost (30%), assessing what students should expect to pay for living and tuition; and Life & Career (25%), evaluating the quality of life and the chances of staying and working in the country after graduation.
Germany, which offers mostly free tuition at its world-class universities
made it the first choice for many students ahead of the UK and France.
“Where Germany has made a considerable improvement is in the number of courses offered in English. While the U.K. and Ireland dominate this metric, offering almost all courses in English, Germany is second only to the Netherlands in the number of courses students can study in English.”, the study observed.
“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 was in the third spot 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.”
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.
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.
The full list of the 30 most popular countries can be found here.