What Does Europe’s Higher Education Institutions Offer To International Students?
Academic institutions all across Europe have developed strong reputations of being among the best in the world for a number of reasons. While European institutions are widely known for being among the most cutting-edge and innovative around the world, there are a number of other considerations that an international students needs to factor in. Statistics from The Times World University Rankings show that Europe contained 31 of the top 100 universities in the world as of 2012. The huge number has made it the second largest cluster of top universities in the world, trailing only the United States of America.
Currently, there are approximately 4,000 academic institutions that offer higher education programs with accreditation by the University Accreditation Commission for international and domestic students in Europe. Many of these institutions offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate level courses. Moreover, what has made Europe particularly attractive in recent years are policies instituted that aim to encourage universities to offer courses in English. The increase in the number of courses taught in English, has resulted in a giant influx of international students, making European education a key driver of the European economy. The number of English-taught courses available in Europe as of 2007 was only 1,000. Currently this number stands at around 5,000.
The courses taught in English by European institutions cater to a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Statistics show that Business and Economics are the most popular English-taught courses in Europe making up 28% of all courses. There has also been a marked increase in courses relating to other disciplines like Engineering, Humanities, Life Sciences and Social Sciences, that are taught in English. Medicine has also become a widely popular course that many international students are flocking to Europe to pursue.
Increased Transparency And Compatibility
While English-taught courses are significant for international students, Europe does offer a number of other reasons to pursue higher education here. In 1999, European ministers from various countries got together to develop educational strategies that have now come to be known as the Bologna Declaration. The purpose of the Bologna Declaration was to create a system whereby domestic and international students were provided with the finest education, that was also fully accredited and acknowledged by European and non-European bodies. The three cycle system that was instituted consists of Bachelor’s degree that typically spans three to four years, a Master’s Degree that may span between one and two years, and a Doctorate Degree that spans three years.
Europe has also introduced the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in recent years, increasing the flexibility and opportunities that students are afforded within the continent. ECTS allows students to switch from one European University Accreditation to another midway through an academic program, without having to lose out on the courses they have already completed. The purpose of ECTS is to increase the course compatibility between different academic institutions within Europe. Students can now seamlessly transfer between colleges, during an academic program, or after one stage of the three tier cycle is complete (e.g. Bachelor’s to Master’s).