Rising numbers of European universities are offering courses taught in English in a bid to tempt students away from leading British institutions, it emerged today.
Figures show that the number of English language-based courses taught in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden has soared by 38 per cent in just over a year.
Master’s courses in English – covering the full range of disciplines including science, the arts and humanities – now account for almost a third of those advertised in continental Europe, it was revealed.
France alone has seen a 43 per cent rise in English language-based courses despite legislation in the country that requires all teaching to be done in French.
The disclosure – in a study by the New York-based Institute of International Education – will be seen as an attempt to lure potentially lucrative international students away from the UK in favour of mainland Europe.
It coincides with rising concerns over tough new rules on overseas students entering Britain.
The move may also encourage rising numbers of British students to shun courses in this country in favour of those on the continent, which often charge far lower fees.
Elias Faethe, from the Study Portals website, which provides information on courses at 1,200 universities in mainland Europe, told Times Higher Education magazine: “Interest in the UK from potential master’s students is still strong and it is growing, but is not growing as fast as interest in other countries.
“If you look at the main competitor countries to the UK in Europe, they are all pushing forward their efforts to attract high-quality international students, and English-taught courses are a way to do this.”
The study showed that 6,407 master’s programmes are being taught in English at European universities in June this year – up from 4,644 just 18 months earlier.
Courses in English now account for almost a third of the 21,000 master’s programmes advertised on Study Portals in continental Europe, it emerged.
Although the study only covered postgraduate courses, it is likely that rising numbers of undergraduate degrees are also being taught in English.
The conclusions follow the publication of European Union research last month that confirmed English was the lingua franca of the continent – named as the most popular foreign language in all but five nations.
Large numbers of schoolchildren in other countries around the world also study English as their main second language.
Figures show that the Netherlands has the highest number of master’s courses in English, 946. It was up by 16 per cent in just over a year.
This was followed by Germany (733), Sweden (708), France (494), Spain (373), Denmark (327), Italy (304), Switzerland (281), Finland (261) and Belgium (253).
The rise of English language courses in France comes despite legislation banning teaching in anything other than French, although the law is loosely enforced.
Daniel Stevens, international students officer at the National Union of Students, told the Times Higher: “The traditional destinations to study English, such as the US, the UK and Australia, are no longer a given. Other countries are realising the benefits of attracting international students.”
Source: Education News