With a profound impact and relevance historically, politically and culturally, the European continent has had a significant role to play on the global map. It is also home to some of the oldest and world-class universities in the world, which have attracted international students to its countries over the years for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs.
From the University of Bologna founded in 1088 (which is one of the first universities in the world to award degree certificates), to some of the top-ranked institutions like the University of Oxford, and Cambridge University. Recent developments such as Brexit, COVID-19 and most recently, the Ukraine-Russia war have had their impact on international students in many ways.
- Students joining European universities must understand the importance of staying connected with the local embassies, communities, student groups and social media platforms
- Data from India’s ministry of external affairs reveals that more than 1.6 lakh Indian students were enrolled in European countries as of July 2021
- The UK, Germany, Russia and France, host more than half of the student mobility in Europe
Impact Of The Changing Scenarios
These have also underlined the importance of considering aspects such as the socio-political, economic and health infrastructure of a country, its travel policies in the current scenario, and a country’s diplomatic ties with other nations from an aspiring student’s point of view.
As diplomatic relations between India and the European countries continue to grow, the trend of Indian students choosing Europe for higher education has spiked.
With an exceptional education system, rich cultural diversity, low tuition fees and expenses for studying at European countries in some countries, and better work opportunities, the continent is popular among Indian students.
Data from India’s ministry of external affairs reveals that more than 1.6 lakh Indian students were enrolled in European countries as of July 2021. Besides the UK, Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, other destinations which had the presence of Indian students included Cyprus (3,007), Georgia (7,500), Ireland (5,000), Spain (1,500), Switzerland (1,850), Sweden (2,000) and Finland (1,051).
Schemes such as Erasmus Plus and scholarships by different European nations are other reasons that attract Indian students. All in all, 325,000 students left home to study in one of
the Erasmus Plus program’s 33 partner countries.
Explaining the impact of Brexit and COVID-19 on UK as a destination, Anuj Soni, counsellor (Europe), providing Yocket Premium services, says, “After Brexit, all the EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss nationals are now in the same position as other non-EEA nationals. This means they do not have the right to free movement and they will need to get the visa, pay the visa fees and other immigration surcharges in the same way as applicants from India. This puts Indian workers on the same level of UK immigration with EU citizens.”
Soni believes that UK universities have adapted to the pandemic, ensuring student safety remains top priority while continuing to deliver the world-class teaching the UK is known for.
The impact of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine may be short-term and prospective students should not be discouraged with the effect of conflict, as it will not disrupt their plans of studying abroad. “Only Eastern European neighbouring countries like Poland and Georgia may have been slightly impacted. However, Europe as a whole is functioning as usual,” he says.
What The Numbers Say
The numbers from the UK are promising, with the country already meeting its 2030 target of 6 lakh students as per the UK Home Office. International student enrollment in Germany for the 2020-2021 academic year, which included students enrolled and participating in either in‐person or online courses, is projected to increase to more than 3.3 lakh students despite a one percent decline in new international student enrollments, according to German Academic Exchange Service DAAD findings in 2021. As per data from UNESCO, Europe is the leading host region for mobile students with more than 2.4 million students in 2018, ahead of North America.
The UK, Germany, Russia and France, host more than half of the student mobility in Europe. Countries such as Turkey (+130%) and Poland (+96%) are experiencing very strong growth in the number of mobile students hosted between 2013 and 2018.
The India-EU Strategic Partnership Roadmap 2025 also mentions improving awareness on higher education and scholarship opportunities in India and the EU through higher education fairs and with the Erasmus Plus Student and Alumni Alliance. It also focuses on promoting balanced mobility of students through closer participation of EU member states.
Advice For Students
Advising aspiring students who wish to study in Europe, Soni says students must remember a few things. “Developing friendships takes time… the road rules are different and pickpocketing happens everywhere. Students must remember that having a student ID is equivalent to plenty of freebies and discounts. Using public transport is a great way to save money and the Internet or calling cards can save you from lengthy phone bills. But the most important advantage of studying in Europe is that students can learn many languages and work within the region.”
Students must also understand the importance of staying connected with the local embassies, Indian missions abroad, local communities, student groups and social media platforms. It is also advisable to make best use of the research, innovation and cultural opportunities in the region.