The European Union, with its 27 Member States, is the most exciting and rewarding Higher Education destination in the world – offering not only the highest of academic standards, but also an unrivalled choice of English-taught courses, and access to world-leading research institutions, facilities, and technologies.
In terms of academic quality, European Higher Education is second to none. According to the recently released globally-renowned Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016, Europe has more world-class universities than any other region – with 42 of the top 100, compared to 39 in the US, and 104 universities in the top 200, compared to only 63 in the US. Overall nearly half of the World's Top 400 universities are in Europe.
Significantly, Europe is much more than a home to the world’s elite universities – although in The University of Oxford (UK), The University of Cambridge (UK), The Karolinska Institute (Sweden), and Ludwig Maximilians Universitat Munchen (LMU) (Germany), Europe has four of the world’s most prestigious institutions.
Europe’s real strength is its strength in depth – with unrivalled expertise across a broad range of subjects and disciplines. European Universities lead the way in Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health with the lion’s share (44) of the top 100; and in Engineering and Technology, Europe excels with universities from 7 separate EU Member States ranked in the World’s Top 50. It’s a similar story across the disciplines with Europe matching or outperforming its closest regional rivals in Life Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Social Science in 2015-2016.
Meanwhile, Europe’s research and technical facilities were ranked amongst the World’s best by leading academics in the World Reputation Rankings 2016 and the continent is well known for its characteristic strong bond between academia and industry. Overall, Europe has over 4,000 higher education institutions ranging from high level research establishments to teaching focused colleges.
Each year thousands of Indian students decide to study in Europe, thanks in part to active promotion from the EU Delegation to India via initiatives like the European Higher Education Fair India 2014, EHEVF 2015, and European Higher Education Virtual Fair 2016 India and South Asia (EHEVF 2016). An innovative virtual initiative EHEVF 2016 has at its core a desire to open doors to Indian students interested in tertiary level study in Europe – allowing them to explore some of the myriad educational, scholarship and career opportunities available to them. Indian and South Asian students, researchers, and academics will be able to access exclusive information on participating European Higher Education Institutions (EHEIs) as well as resources on EU Member States education systems via a single platform website www.study-europe.net tailored to their needs. They will also be able to benefit from direct contact with representatives of EHEIs via webinars and ‘chat windows’ at the ‘Virtual Higher Education Fair’, which will be held in July and Sepetember 2016.
As many Indian students discover, opportunities to study in Europe abound. To begin with, European Higher Education is increasingly accessible for Indian students – and there has been a recent rapid growth in the number of English-taught post-graduate courses available. In practice this means that most Indian students do not have to learn another language to study a post-graduate qualification in Europe.
The UK has the highest number of English-taught academic courses in the EU, with 14,204 Masters Courses and 1,522 PhD’s, although continental Europe is catching up – offering nearly 8,800 English-Taught Programmes right across the disciplines in 2016. The Netherlands and Germany lead the way with over a thousand programmes each, closely followed by Sweden – although percentage-wise Denmark tops the class with 38% of its bachelor and Masters taught in English.
Conversely, Indian students wishing to learn a European language can do so and many courses in Europe are offered with a language option. In fact, ‘not speaking the language’ is becoming less of a bar to international post-graduate study and is increasingly being seen by Indian students as an opportunity to learn a new coveted skill – a skill which may give them a decisive advantage in finding a top job. As Indian recruiters will be quick to point out, globalisation means polylingualism is now viewed as a major asset by employers, particularly those doing business internationally.
Financially, studying in Europe makes sense too. The costs of living and tuition fees in Europe in particular compare favourably with those in counterpart institutions in the US – and some European countries, such as Norway, Finland and Germany, levy nominal or no tuition fees at all.
Indian students can also benefit from academic scholarships which cover many disciplines, not least under the European Union’s new Erasmus+ Programme, a revamped and expanded version of the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship’s Programme which saw 3,400 Indian students receive scholarships over the last decade. Running from 2014-2020, Erasmus+ has an overall budget of €14.7 billion Euros, whilst the EU has also made available an extra €1.68 billion Euros for third country funding via the EU’s external action budget.
Similarly, the UK offers many scholarships specifically targeting Indian students, as do several other EU member states and many international scholarships for which Indian students are eligible are offered directly by the European Institutions of Higher Education themselves.
Student mobility in the European Education sector is also a big draw for international students and the EU has helped standardise curriculums and qualifications, and established a user-friendly system of educational ‘credit mobility’. In practice this means that international students are able to study for their degrees not only in different institutions but also in multiple countries within the European Union.
Meanwhile, short stay visa rules have been unified in the Schengen area which is made up of 22 EU member states - though Indian students wishing to study in Europe for an academic year are likely to need a national long stay visa and/or a residence permit. As ever, international students requiring a visa to enter the European Union must obtain their student visa before arrival.
The pursuit of higher education is also, of course, an investment for life. As well as offering a wide variety of accessible world class education, low tuition fees, good scholarships, and top- level research facilities, studying in Europe - with its diverse and intriguing range of regions, cities, and cultures – also provides a rare and wonderful opportunity for both professional and personal development. Just ask the more than 19 million students, 1.5 million academics, and 435,000 researchers who currently make up the worlds’ leading Higher Education destination – the European Union.
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