The Savills Blog

European universities ramp up English teaching to attract international students

European universities are increasingly appearing in international students' shortlists of where they want to study. This is due to students' greater familiarity with a broader range of cultures and cities beyond the traditional destination markets of the UK, US, and latterly Australia, and better marketing by institutions abroad. It’s also because many European universities are now adopting one of the central tenets that previously only universities in these locations offered: teaching courses in English.

Many students minded to study abroad see the acquirement of fluency in business English as an essential part of their university experience, and thus tended to default to studying in locations where this was readily available. As a result, the US and UK dominate when it comes to attracting international students, accounting for 19 per cent and 10 per cent of all globally mobile students respectively.

But this is changing. In a conscious effort to attract more international students, European institutions have begun to increase the number of programmes they teach in English. The Netherlands has led the pack: 7.2 per cent of its student body is now on English Taught Programmes (ETPs), accounting for 57,000 students in total. Denmark has followed suit, with 12.4 per cent of all its students on ETPs, while in Sweden they account for just over 4 per cent of the student body.

Others, however, have more ground to make up: while in terms of ETP volumes Turkey comes second by teaching over 40,000 students in English, this makes up just one per cent of the country's student population, with the same proportion also being taught in English in Germany. France and Italy, meanwhile, don't even break the 1 per cent barrier for the proportion of their students on ETPs.

There is therefore an opportunity for institutions in these countries to significantly gain market share by increasing the number of ETPs. With considerably lower living costs than their counterparts in the US, UK and Australia, and evermore universities appearing in top global rankings, European institutions are a very attractive proposition for international students. It is likely that if they increase the volume of ETPs, combined with better marketing, this will only improve.

Similarly, this is an opportunity for student housing developers. Many domestic European students, particularly in southern Europe, choose to live at home for the duration of their education, and therefore there is a dearth of dedicated student accommodation in many – although not all – markets. Consequently, international students in Europe tend to either live in accommodation provided by universities or in privately rented housing. Providing a purpose-built product for these students reflecting their needs and wants would is therefore going to be in increased demand as student numbers rise.

Further information

Read more: Savills World Student Housing Report


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