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Search analysis tracks student interest in English-taught degree programmes in Europe

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Student search activity for degree programmes in Italy spiked over 2021 and 2022, even as Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands remained among the most-popular European destinations
  • Growth in student demand is being driven by markets outside of the European Economic Area

Studyportals has released a new high-level summary of student demand for degree programmes in Europe. The findings are based on tens of millions of pageviews on Studyportals websites for on-campus, English-medium programmes offered across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). They relate user behaviour and search volumes for the period April 2021 to March 2022 with student demand for the previous 12 months (April 2020 – March 2021).

As on other major search platforms, we can understand that student search activity to represent an early stage of student planning for study abroad, and, as such, as an indicator of demand patterns that will play out over the next 12-to-24 months.

The following chart shows the demand patterns across the Bachelorsportal and Mastersportal websites for the top 25 destination countries in the EHEA. It compares the 2021/22 volumes for each country (solid bars) with those of the year before (straight lines), and indicates as well the overall growth (or decline) for each country.

Search volumes for the top 25 EHEA study destinations, 2021/22 and 2020/21. Source: Studyportals

Some of the important takeaways from that detailed chart are:

  • Germany remains the most searched-for destination in Europe, but the United Kingdom and the Netherlands – the second and third most-popular choices – made bigger gains last year
  • Italy saw, by far, the biggest gain in student interest over those two years, with a 45% increase in search activity year over year.

There are some important patterns as well that lie behind that summary. For example, those increases in demand for English-taught degree programmes in Europe are being driven by students from outside the EEA (European Economic Area)

Student interest varies by level of study across destinations. For example, both Germany and the UK saw a decline in search activity for undergraduate programmes over those two years, but an increase in searches for Masters programmes. Italy (+55%), Spain (+41%), Belgium (+38%), and Portugal (+35%) recorded the greatest year-over-year increases in pageviews for Bachelor degree programmes, while Italy (+45%), Poland (+31%), and Portugal (+27%) also saw the fastest growth in interest for Master’s programmes.

As those highlights suggest, Italy is the big mover in the table of European destinations this year. “Italy has been gaining momentum as a more budget-friendly destination for students,” adds a related post from Studyportals. “This, together with the high quality of education, and good scholarship programmes has meant rising student demand. Interest for Italy from within the EEA is up 18.3% driven by interest from Turkey, the UK and the Netherlands. Student interest in Italy from Non-EEA students has surged even more – up by 51.9%. This strong growth in interest is driven by surging student from Iran, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”

An earlier report from Studyportals and the British Council identified over 28,870 degree programmes taught in English outside Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which represents growth of over 77% compared with 2017. Most of the programmes in alternate destinations are at the master’s level, but the number of undergraduate English-language degrees has been growing at a faster rate (85% compared to 74% for master’s).

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