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How language is impacting on university numbers

How language is impacting university numbers

As the world's student population becomes increasingly mobile and education becomes globalised, international student populations will continue to rise.

Attracting international students is important to a city's local economy as well as the bottom line and diversity of a university. These students often pay higher fees, spend more on both accommodation and living, and bring new insights and cultural perspectives to a country. 

Currently, English-speaking countries dominate the share of international students, particularly the UK, US and Australia. In fact, the latest Savills World Student Housing Spotlight found that when looking at the percentages of international students compared to domestic students within a country, Australia had the most, with a huge 26% of all students coming from overseas.

In a bid to tap into lucrative international markets, European institutions have been actively increasing their international appeal. A large part of this appeal has been the increase of courses taught in English. English is an important language in the international business space, particularly with prospective employers, therefore tuition in this language has carried significant weight with prospective students.

The first case study of the success of this tactic came from the Netherlands, who were one of the earliest European countries to move towards English language tuition at scale. According to the World Student Housing Spotlight, the Netherlands now boasts the largest numbers of enrolled students on English taught programmes (ETPs), which make up 7.2% of their total student body. In Denmark, while they don't have as large a number of students enrolled in ETPs, the students that are enrolled make up 12.4% of the total student body. Germany, on the other hand, while they have a large number of international students overall, do not have nearly as many of them studying ETPs, and those that do make up just 1% of their total student population.

With considerably lower living costs than their counterparts in the US, UK and Australia, and many universities appearing in top global rankings, European institutions are a very attractive proposition for international students. 

Similarly, this is an opportunity for student housing developers. A growing, internationally-mobile student population has fuelled demand for purpose-built student accommodation across the world. Investors may do well to watch for countries and cities that benefit from a diverse international demand base, or particular fast-growing outbound markets.

Top European countries by students enrolled in ETPs

Source: Wächter and Maiworm / World Student Housing Spotlight 2016/17

More Information

To learn more about the trends in the current student accommodation market, view Savills World Student Housing Spotlight 2016.

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