Internationalisation policies boosting overseas students

July 03, 2013

Dedicated internationalisation policies at institutions across Europe are having a positive impact on overseas student numbers, according to a report by the European University Association (EUA).

photo: European University Association

The report, Internationalisation in European higher education: European policies, institutional strategies and EUA support, was compiled with responses from 175 individual institutions in 38 different countries, and found that 56 per cent had a dedicated internationalisation strategy, while a further 30 per cent considered internationalisation within other strategies and 13 per cent were currently developing one.

Sixty–eight per cent of the institutions said the policy had grown international student populations. This was the third biggest impact behind: developing institutional partnerships overseas (73 per cent) and sending more students abroad (72).

Attracting more international students at all levels was cited as the top first priority in the strategy for 30 per cent, followed by internationalisation of learning and teaching (19 per cent) and providing students with opportunities to go abroad (12). In second and third placed priorities, attracting more overseas graduate students emerged as an important aspect for many institutions.

One third of the institutions said they now had an international student population of over 10 per cent of the student total, with a quarter having a population between 11 and 20 per cent, and six per cent of institutions boasting an overseas student body between 21 and 40 per cent of the total.

In terms of the prospect of an EU–level internationalisation strategy, 91 per cent of respondents were positive that such a strategy would add value, with funding for exchange opportunities and support for institutions' internationalisation strategies emerging as the most expected outcomes.

The research was presented in a speech last week by Dr John H. Smith, Deputy Secretary General of EUA, at the Europe: at the heart of internationalisation conference organised by the UK's Higher Education International Unit last week. The conference featured seminars on topics such as the newly announced Horizon 2020 research funding for Europe, as well as discussion groups on issues including U–multirank, international accreditation and student mobility.

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