English-Taught Courses Boom in Europe


Indian students do not need to learn a new European language to study in Europe – the recent boom in English-taught post-graduate programs making European Higher Education even more accessible to internationally mobile students.  

Recent figures show that the UK continues to have the highest number of English-taught academic courses in Europe, with 14,204 Masters Courses and 1,522 PhD’s offered in 2016. However continental Europe is catching up following a rapid increase over the last three years - from around 4,500 English-taught Masters courses in 2011 to 7,000 in 2014, and to 8,795 in 2016, and an additional 1,357 PhD's.

More specifically, today The Netherland’s offers 1220 Masters in English, compared to 812 Masters in 2011, and only 386 in 2007. Similarly in Germany, the number of English-taught Masters has increased from 88 in 2007, to 632 in 2011, to 805 in 2014 - and to 1113 in 2016.

A similar pattern has emerged right across the European Union Higher Education sector, with a rapid increase in English-taught higher education courses in Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, and Finland, as well as the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Greece – good news for Indian internationally mobile students interested in studying post-graduate courses in less traditional European higher education destinations.

The statistics will also make interesting reading for Indian students across the disciplines. There is a wide spread in the types of courses taught in English at European Higher Education Institutions (EHEIs), though some courses are more likely to be taught in English than others.

Business and Economics tops the list in 2016 with at total of 5449 English-taught Masters courses and 257 PhD’s on offer in EHEIs, followed by Social Sciences (4894 and 640), Engineering and Technology (3075 and 431), Humanities (2853 and 361), Medicine and Health (2503 and 380), Natural Sciences and Maths (2328 and 632), Arts, Design and Archictecture (2012 and 164), Environmental Studies and Earth Sciences (1344 and 156), and Law (1028, and 72), completes the list (Source: MasterPortal.eu).

Internationally mobile foreign students are also increasingly open to studying European languages through the European Higher Education system – and there are now many courses offered at EHEIs with language options. To support international students, EHEIs also provide access to intensive language courses to help them study in another language.

In fact, ‘not speaking the language’ is becoming less of a bar to international post-graduate study and is increasingly being seen by international students, as an opportunity to learn a new coveted skill – a skill which may give them a decisive advantage in finding a top job.

The case for learning a new European language as an Indian student is a compelling one. Of the 24 official EU languages, several are spoken worldwide. Spanish, for example, is the second most spoken native language in the world and currently some 350 million people speak Spanish in 21 countries on four continents. Similarly French is an official language on 5 continents and in 29 countries including Belgium, Canada, and Cameroon; whereas German is an official language in six states, which have a combined population of over 100 million.

Elsewhere, Portuguese is the official language of Brazil – a strongly emerging economy which is part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping. Portuguese is also a co-official language of Macau in China, the most densely populated region on the planet and one of world’s richest cities.

As any international recruiter will be quick to point out, globalisation and an increasingly interconnected world means polylingualism is now viewed as a major asset by employers, particularly those doing business internationally. The number of Indian-origin global companies is on the rise –  HCL Technologies, Suzlon Energy, Infosys, Tata Communications  – to name but a few, and research in India is increasingly conducted transnationally meaning that linguistic ability is becoming something of an imperative.

European languages such as French, German and Spanish, along with English, are also working languages of the world’s most influential international organisations. French, for example, is an official working language of the United Nations, the European Commission, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Either way, studying an English-taught post graduate course, studying in English at a EHEI whilst learning a new European language, or even studying in the language of the receiving country, it’s good news for internationally mobile Indian students. There are no longer any linguistic barriers to Indian students studying in Europe – just an abundance of new educational opportunities awaiting discovery.

Further Information:

MastersPortal.eu - www.MastersPortal.eu

IIE’s Center for Academic Mobility Research - http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Publications-and-Reports/IIE-Bookstore/English-Language-Masters-Briefing-Paper-2013-Update