International mobility of students is an important topic in the EUROSTUDENT project. In the last project round Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine took part in EUROSTUDENT for the first time – reason enough to take a closer look at the mobility of students of these countries.
The data presented below stem from the fifth round of the EUROSTUDENT project and were collected between the years 2012 and 2014. Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine are referred to as NIS countries – Newly Independent States – in the following.
What does EUROSTUDENT tell us about student mobility in the NIS countries, and can differences between these states and the other EUROSTUDENT countries be found?
In the NIS countries, a relatively large gap between students’ plans and actual enrolments exists. The desire for international mobility among NIS students is indisputably strong: on average, almost half of students (47%) in Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine have plans to undertake a period of temporary study abroad. Among their peers in all EUROSTUDENT countries, this applies to roughly a third of students (35%). When looking only at realised enrolments, however (Fig. 1), the picture is different: students from the NIS countries are less mobile than their European peers. The share of students who have realised an enrolment abroad is particularly low in Ukraine, where only 2% of students report ever having been enrolled abroad. NIS students apparently less often manage to make their plans for studying abroad a reality: While the EUROSTUDENT average ratio of realised vs. planned enrolment abroad is 1:4 (7% of all students who have been enrolled abroad against 28% of those with plans), the same ratio in Armenia is 1:14 (4% versus 56%), in Georgia 1:11 (5% versus 56%), in Russia 1:6 (5% versus 29%) and in Ukraine 1:15 (2% versus 29%).
Figure 1: Students’ temporary international enrolment experience (in %)*
Data source: EUROSTUDENT V, K.1
Furthermore, NIS students organise their temporary study abroad mainly through non-EU programs, such as bilateral inter-university exchange schemes, intergovernmental programs, or fellowship programs, and individually, i.e. as “free movers”. Across all EUROSTUDENT countries, however, the most popular channel for educational stays abroad are EU-funded programs, e.g. the Erasmus+ programme and similar initiatives. On EUROSTUDENT average, 52% of all mobile students went abroad with of such an initiative. NIS students make use of such programmes to a much lesser degree than students in other EUROSTUDENT countries – unsurprisingly, considering that the NIS countries were not programme countries in the Erasmus programme at the time of the survey.
Figure 2: Organisation of (most recent) enrolment abroad (in %)*
Data source: EUROSTUDENT V, K.9 Too few cases: UA.
Non-mobile students from NIS countries are more often concerned about access regulations to their preferred country than non-NIS students. Apart from this, the main obstacles reported by non-mobile students in the NIS countries are very similar to that of their peers in all EUROSTUDENT countries: the other four of the five “top” obstacles are shared between the two groups. The largest obstacle for students without mobility experience in the NIS countries turns out to be the additional financial burden associated with a stay abroad, with on average 59% of these students judging this to be (quite) large. Insufficient skills in a foreign language present an obstacle to 38% of NIS students. Roughly a third of non-mobile NIS students indicate that leaving behind their partner, children, or friends (36%), (expected) problems with access regulations to their preferred country (34%), or difficulties integrating the stay abroad into the structure of their home study programme keep them from pursuing studies abroad. Indeed, students from the four NIS countries are in a relatively disadvantageous position with regard to the full recognition of ECTS gained abroad in comparison with their EUROSTUDENT peers. Only a quarter (Armenia, 26%, and Ukraine, 27%) to slightly more than 40% (Russia, 42%, and Georgia, 43%) of students having temporarily studied abroad from these countries report that their credits gained abroad were fully recognised at their institutions of origin. On E:V average, the credits gained abroad were fully recognised upon return to the home HE for more than half of students (57%).
Measures encouraging and supporting NIS students’ mobility that address the above-mentioned issues may help realise the large mobility potential of the NIS countries. The students appear to be ready and willing to fully take advantage of the European Higher Education Area.
More detailed results and analyses on this topic can be found in the latest EUROSTUDENT Intelligence Brief:
Chvorostov, A., & Hauschildt, K.: International student mobility in Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine. EUROSTUDENT Intelligence Brief No. 4, 2016. Hanover: German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW).
* See chapter 10 in the EUROSTUDENT Synopsis of Indicators (pp. 185-208) for methodological notes and notes on national surveys.