Have You Capitalized on Your Country’s Academic Appeal?

5 min read

Joanna Hughes

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) recently announced data on the share of international students enrolled by areas of study in selected countries With this article, we drill down to highlight six countries that shine in terms of drawing international students to certain fields, while also taking a closer look at what countries are doing to attract the best and brightest talent from overseas.

1. The UK: Business Studies

OECD data reveals business is a popular choice for international students, and the UK is a favorite destination. This is backed by the most recent Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) indicating that of the UK’s 223,585 students in business, management, and administrative studies, 27 percent are international.

International students have good reason to flock to the UK for b-school. Says the British Council of the benefits of studying business in the UK, “We have a long history of building international businesses and we’ve become one of the most sought-after destinations for international students to learn what it takes to succeed. For centuries we’ve cultivated expertise in every imaginable sector, and there are over 100 dedicated business schools – four of them ranked among the top ten in the world. Up and down the country you’ll find a huge array of courses set up to give you the creative business insights and world-class administration skills you need to succeed.”

2. Canada: Energy and Analytics

International enrollments are on the rise in Canada, but not all fields are created equal when it comes to attracting students from abroad. Two areas of study that stand out for their international appeal? Energy and analytics.

For starters, Canada is a leader in energy. Says Natural Resources Canada, “Our nation’s prosperity and competitiveness are tied to achieving sustainable economic growth and a successful transition to a lower carbon future….Canada is committed to creating a cleaner environment for future generations by investing in clean technologies and increasing energy efficiency.”

According to data from Monster.ca, informatics security analysts and market research analysts both earn spots on Globalnews.ca’s roundup of the “top eight careers of the future in Canada.” Said Monster.co director of marketing Sheryl Boswell, “It’s one of the best future jobs because markets are in a constant flux...New competitors are entering the market all the time so companies need to stay on top of who their competitors are and also who is purchasing their products.”

Given the high demand for professionals in these fields, along with the promise of equally high salaries, it makes sense that international students often look to Canada when it comes to international study opportunities.

3. France: Aeronautics and Doctoral Programs

France has a long history of attracting international students in a breadth and depth of areas, including nuclear, space and aviation. Study in France attributes this interest to the fact that France excels in technology and has high standards of learning.

And while not an area of study, it’s also worth noting the degree to which French doctoral programs draw international students: 40 percent of French PhDs are earned by international students, according to Forbes.

Which begs the question: Why? One Canadian student told IR Blog of his pathway to a French PhD, “I came out of [undergraduate and master’s studies with] Canadian funding that I could take to any university I chose. Through my advisor in Ottawa, I had the opportunity to go study with a respected scholar working at la Sorbonne whose work I was interested in. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.” English-taught programming is also a draw.

At the same time, France is endeavoring to entice even more international students to these and other offerings, including reforming tuition fees for students from outside the EU, more scholarship opportunities, more French campuses overseas, additional English-language programming, and simplified visa procedures.

4. New Zealand: Science

International students have long loved New Zealand, and its star continues to rise as a global academic hot-spot thanks to its top universities, student-friendly visa procedures, extraordinary landscapes, affordability and safety. Speaking of extraordinarily landscape, New Zealand’s makes it an ideal destination for scientists.

A smaller pool of researchers, meanwhile, speaks to students looking for more opportunities. Spatial ecologist Kim Goetz, a US native, told Nature, “You can dabble in a lot of different areas. You are always learning.”

5. Germany: Business

According to Business Because, not only are German MBAs becoming more popular, but international interest is driving this boom with more than 26,000 international students pursuing business degrees in Germany during the 2017-2018 academic year. This is due to a number of factors including low tuition fees, top-notch schools and faculty, English-taught curricula, innovative curricula, German language, scholarships, future employability, and for the experience itself.

6. Switzerland: Natural Sciences, Math and Statistics

Says Swissinfo.ch, “International students seem to be following in Albert Einstein’s famous footsteps when it comes to choosing a course of study in Switzerland…. students from abroad still elect to study natural sciences, maths and statistics ahead of other fields and this at three times the rate of locals, according to the OECD.”

But other areas of study are also sought-after by international students in Switzerland, including theology studies, translation, commodities trading, global health, economics, veterinary studies, architecture, communications and economics. The country also has an excellent international reputation in vocational studies.

One last thing to keep in mind? Even as countries lag when it comes to drawing students to a particular area of study, it’s possible to reverse course. Consider Australia for example, which has seen many students leaving the country for advanced math studies elsewhere. According to a recent ABC News report, the country is launching its first specialist math institute in an attempt to retain its own talent while attracting brilliant minds from all over the world. Said Professor Geordie Williamson, who is heading up the institute, “High-level institutes [overseas] have exceptional mathematicians visiting the entire time; you have an atmosphere that generates extraordinary work. And that’s what we’re hoping to build here in Australia.”

Added math PhD student Adrianne Jenner, “I think [the institute] will help promote Australia throughout the international community as a great mathematical research country….It will bring a lot of people from international universities to Australia and it will open up new collaborations for our PhD students here."





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