According to the most recent results of the European survey International Student Barometer, 89% of foreign students studying in Estonia are satisfied with the higher education provided here. This result places Estonia among the highest rated countries in Europe.
“Compared to a few years ago we’re mostly at the same level – the satisfaction of foreign students has increased a little in some areas and decreased a little in others,” explained Raul Ranne, the Head of International Education Marketing at the Archimedes Foundation. “This year, Estonia was compared to very good universities in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and Germany.”
In Estonia, both universities and the state have been placing strategic importance on the internationalisation of higher education for years and have invested funds from the state budget as well as the European Union in support of this. “The main goal of internationalisation to date has been to boost the quality of higher education, ensuring that graduates are prepared to work on the global market,” said Karin Jaanson, an adviser with the Ministry of Education and Research. “As a result, the number of foreign students, lecturers and researchers has increased rapidly.”
In the 2014/2015 academic year, 2887 foreign students from 101 countries are studying in Estonian institutions of higher education. Foreign students form 5.2% of the total number of students (55,214) and their numbers have increased more than three-fold in the past five years. “One of the main reasons for this rapid growth is the satisfaction of foreign students with the quality of education provided at our universities,” Jaanson said. “The survey shows that 86% are satisfied with the content and quality of lectures and 92% are satisfied with their labs and the learning environment. At the same time, the level of satisfaction with work and career opportunities is a lot lower, which indicates that the connection between the internationalisation of higher education and the economy is weak in Estonia. Despite the rapid growth in the number of foreign students, our making use of them economically is a lot more modest than it could be. We have to increase our efforts to provide internships to foreign students, and cooperation between universities and employers needs to be tighter if this is going to happen.”
According to the survey, foreign students in Estonia are mostly satisfied with the living environment: 87% of respondents assessed it as positive. The security of the living environment, the quality of learning facilities and the reasonable cost of living were assessed most favourably. Students are least satisfied with opportunities to earn money alongside their studies.
Assessments of the level of support services was only slightly lower than average: 88% of foreign students are satisfied with them, whereas the European average is 89%. In Estonia, students are satisfied with overall support services, such as help from universities in finding somewhere to live, but at the same time they are less satisfied than average with advisory services, tutors and careers advice.
1035 foreigners acquiring higher education in Estonia took part in the survey. Participation in the survey was funded by the European Social Fund as part of the DoRa Doctoral Studies and Internationalisation programme. The ‘International Student Barometer’ is the world’s largest satisfaction survey of foreign students. Estonia took part in it for the third time.