‘Make sure teachers and staff know why international education is so important’

Carmen Neghina, head of intelligence at StudyPortals and co-author of the study, explained the background of the research (opposite) and told the EL Gazette why it was important to carry it out

What is the rationale behind the study?
International education markets are changing rapidly, especially with the rising numbers of students from Asia and Africa wanting to study abroad because the home offer is not enough to match the demand. Can Europe accommodate all these students? There is a need for clear data – I think this can help us understand what is really happening.

What is the most important finding that the industry needs to keep in mind?
The most striking finding is that the number of English-taught courses is rising fast across Europe. The demand is rising too, so the industry needs to keep up with it. For example there is a rising demand for STEM courses, especially from Asia, that needs to be matched.
There will be a follow-up study delving deeper into the students’ data: where do they come from and what are they looking for? How does demand diversify across all source markets?

What type of training do staff need?
The starting point is ensuring that teachers and the staff know why international education is so important. English language training is important, but staff also need to be trained to teach international students.

Training is important to enable universities to design truly international curricula then?
Yes, especially when the initiative comes from the programme level: then the programme usually starts by translating the curriculum, experimenting for the first year, and moving on. The teachers kind of ‘learn by doing’. Instead, when the initiative comes from management, this usually doesn’t happen – maybe because there are more resources available then.

And… the Brexit question. Have you noticed a drop in the number of students interested in the UK after June 2016?
The number of students looking to study in the UK hasn’t changed. However, what is changing is where students are coming from. For certain European countries the demand is going down, especially for undergraduate degrees, because students are uncertain. Will tuition fees be the same in three years for EU students? For Asian students there is an opportunity, as the Pound is low.