International Students: How to Attract More European Students

4 min read

Julia Sachs

Table of contents

Some students have a good idea of where they want to study abroad in mind when they begin looking. Other students don’t.


There are lots of reasons why a student might want to study abroad, from simple answers like wanting to experience a new city, language or culture to more complex reasons such as wanting to study in a specific field that can only be offered at a handful of schools around the world. 


Regardless of their reason why, many international students will look at the international student services in your school when determining whether your institution is the right fit for them. Here are a few things that European students might look for when deciding where to study abroad, and how your institution can better cater to their needs in a way that will make them feel more welcomed:


Specialized Programs


More and more students are opting out of studying abroad for a single semester in favor of studying for an entire degree program in a new country. In Europe, many universities are offering more English-speaking courses to cater to incoming English and American students that are looking to study abroad for a full degree program. The more traditional semester abroad is still wildly popular. But data shows that a growing number of students are opting to pursue their entire degree abroad rather than using a semester abroad as a way to travel. 


Students looking for specialized programs such as specific degrees in STEM or sports programs that are only offered at your school can draw in students from around the globe. In the winter sports, students looking for access to premiere skiing and snowboarding might look for world-class training near your institution. In science, European students wanting to advance to a career in a specific technology might seek out degrees in emerging industries such as Blockchain or Artificial Intelligence. 




With issues like sustainability, global trade and the internet at the forefront of major, emerging industries around the world, more students are looking at careers in globalized industries. This often means that international students are willing to go abroad to seek an education or degree program in another country if the degree program focuses on a global industry. Global sustainability, for example, is often a major factor in how students studying the effects of and possible solutions to climate change might decide on a college program. 


International students often consider themselves global citizens, and answers to local sustainability issues that come with global solutions put the world first, not just a local community. Institutions that focus on global solutions, such as business programs that focus on supply chain sustainability or STEM programs that focus on solving global problems, often attract students from around the world. 


Full Degree Programs vs. Semesters Abroad


As we discussed in our blog post on global citizenship, more students are looking for opportunities to study abroad for an entire degree program rather than a single semester. Institutions with well-established international student services in place often see the bulk of these students coming from places like Europe and Asia. These students are looking for new opportunities to learn in a new country and environment, but might also be looking for specialized programs specific to the career paths they hope to go into. 


Determining areas of growth in which degree programs are going to attract more of an international student body should mean taking a look at what your institution has to offer. At New York University, for example, a robust theater and performance art program at Tisch University may attract students from around the world, where the University of Missouri’s world-class journalism school might attract students from all over the world wanting to study in that field. 


Identify the key performing degree programs in your institution and use those to your advantage when marketing your school to international students. Focus on how your institution differs from anything in their home country, and advertise to students that are interested in those fields of study. This may also include local activities such as local outdoor recreation or hobbies and networking opportunities that are available in your area. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, students interested in business or technology might want to seek a degree program in that area for the business and networking opportunities. 




Despite the availability of affordable education in places like Europe—which often offers free university programs to students—studies show that a growing number of students are opting to pay for their education. This is particularly true if they think that paying for their schooling will give them a better education, or set them apart against their counterparts in the job search once they enter the career field. 


Language Inclusivity


Finally, one of the bigger services that institutions often overlook is language inclusivity in campus services—both online and in-person. One of the ways that campus services can make their schools more accessible to international services is to offer classes and online services in different languages. While it’s understandable that a whole curriculum in another language may not be doable under current budgets, offering a translated version of important websites and school documents is a small way to help students from abroad feel more welcomed in a new environment. For European students, offer more services in languages like French, German, Spanish and Italian.

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