You want to study in Europe, but do not yet know which countries suit your needs? This year's instalment of the Study.EU Country Ranking may hold the answer for you: We have ranked thirty countries by their attractiveness to international students.
In the 2017 ranking, Germany scores highest: With 83.2 points, it is positioned well before the runner-up, the United Kingdom, at 69.8 points. The Netherlands, France and Sweden make up the remainder of the top 5.
Countries were given scores in three dimensions: Education, Cost, and Life & Career. Germany achieved high ranks across the board, offering high-quality teaching at many well-ranked universities. While the UK scored well for academic reputation and the number of available study programmes, it was the most expensive country in the sample.
The ranking addresses the specific needs of students seeking high-quality, accessible and affordable education abroad. Based on a range of carefully selected input factors, countries were given scores of up to 100 points in three areas:
All of those input factors are aligned to metric scales, adjusted for weighting and then added up to arrive at the scores for each area, and subsequently the total score.
The top 10 in Education are very similar to the overall top 10 – not surprisingly, as this score makes up half of the total. While the UK features by far the most universities in international rankings, the Netherlands and Germany scored much higher in terms of teaching quality. The same is true for Russia, which also shines with a strong international presence particularly of its research universities.
The Netherlands have been particularly successful at growing the number of English-taught programmes in recent years and offer the most among the non-English-speaking countries; that pays off in the score.
Things look different when ranking the countries by cost: Then, the top 10 are dominated by countries in Eastern and South-East Europe. Hungary and Poland offer, on average, a solid education for unrivalled expenses. Of the overall top 10 countries, only Germany and France show up here, because in those two countries, university is usually free even for non-Europeans, while the cost of living are very moderate in comparison to other top scorers in Education.
The top 10 countries' annual cost of living, including tuition fees, range from around 6,200 EUR in Hungary and Poland to around 10,000 EUR in France. These are, of course, averages, with noticeable outliers. Getting by on 10,000 EUR per year may be a challenge for students in Munich, and an improbability for those in Paris.
The key questions are: What quality of life can students and graduates expect here? How easy can they get along in everyday situations with only English? And how good is their outlook to break into the local labour market after graduation?
This ranking is topped by the United Kingdom, which has long been a popular destination not only for foreign students, but also for experienced professionals seeking international career opportunities. The top 10 also prominently feature quite a few Nordic countries, such as Norway and Sweden, the high-scorers from the UN’s World Happiness Report - which flows into the score as one important input factor. In these countries, quality of life is high and and there are many job opportunities for qualified foreign graduates.
What is also evident from the results is that the quality of life - when looking at this dimension without the aspect of cost - is very homogenous especially among the top half of the sample. Whether a student lives in the UK, the Netherlands, or Switzerland, they can expect very high standards of living.
When looking at countries beyond the top 10, the overall differences become smaller. That is why the remaining ranks were bracketed into two additional tiers; 11–20 and 21+. Some smaller European countries were not included at all because data was either not fully available or only available in non-comparable forms.
When looking at the results as a whole, one thing becomes evident: Each country has its strengths and its weaknesses. There are no nations that are consistently among the best, or among the worst, for every single input factor. When looking at the three individual areas, more than two thirds of all ranked countries make it into at least one of the top 10 lists.
The Study.EU Country ranking is meant to support students in their initial question: Where should I be looking to study abroad? The ranking considers quality, cost, and accessibility. It serves as a guide that simplifies a wealth of study options. But it is important to note that no ranking is ever flawless or universally valid. Given individual circumstances, a low-ranking country's study options may well be much more suitable for a specific student than the top 3. Students should take this into account when researching study programmes in Europe.
In the near future, a lot of changes will define the global higher education landscape. The new Trump government will motivate more students to come to Europe instead of the US. Brexit might lead to worse conditions for European students in the UK, and spur them to seek alternative options somewhere in the rest of Europe. At the same time, if the British pound stays at a low rate or declines even further, more non-European students may be attracted to the United Kingdom than previously. We are likely to see continuously strong growth in the number of English-taught programmes in continental Europe. These trends, and other developments, will impact higher education in Europe, and thus the Study.EU Country Ranking for the coming years.
Fore more information, please also refer to the press release.