The number of English-taught bachelor's by country in the European Higher Education Area (EREA) as of 2017. Source - StudyPortals
English-taught bachelor degrees on the rise in Europe

The number of English-taught bachelor (ETB) degrees offered in Europe has increased dramatically over the last eight years, according to a new report by StudyPortals and the European Association for International Education (EAIE).

The research, English-taught bachelor's programmes, Internationalising European higher education, was released by the two organisations at the recent EAIE annual conference in Spain and focuses on 19 countries across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in which English is not the main language, using quantitative data from the StudyPortals website and qualitative interviews with institutions and national promotional agencies.


Based on listings on the StudyPortals Bachelor Portal, the authors claim that the number of ETBs offered has grown from 55 in 2009 to 2,900 this year.


The proliferation of ETBs has slowed in the last couple of years, the authors said. While 2015 was a year of rapid expansion in the number of ETBs offered (43 per cent), subsequent years have returned slower growth rates of 10 and nine per cent.


Turkey was the EHEA country in the study with the largest number of ETBs currently offered at 545, followed by the Netherlands (317), Spain (241), Germany (225) and Greece (161).


"The countries with the highest amount of institutions offering ETBs are Germany (69 HEIs offering ETBs), the Netherlands (42), France (41) and Poland (40)," the authors added. However, Switzerland had the highest ratio of institutions offering English provision, with around 80 per cent providing an ETB, followed by the Netherlands (60).


Business and management was the most common field of study, representing 26 per cent of all ETBs offered in the 19 EHEA countries profiled, followed by social sciences (16) and engineering and technology (14).


The authors said that the average tuition fee for non-EU students across the 19 countries for ETBs was around EU8,000, ranging from an average of EU20,942 in Switzerland to EU2,819 in Latvia. They note that in some countries the averages are skewed by a number of private providers that charge higher fees than the publicly funded institutions.


In interviews with institutions and national associations, the authors discovered that many ETBs began in the business field as translated programmes from the local language. "The main milestone was moving from an opportunistic translation of a local programme to something far more unique, strategic and positioned in the market as a stand-alone programme," one contributor to the report commented.


The lack of English skills of faculty and administrative staff was cited as the biggest challenge in establishing ETBs, while the question of quality of ETBs was cited as a benefit and a challenge by interviewees.


The top five benefits of ETBs on internationalisation, according to institution respondents, were: more internationalised administrative procedures; more international students and a diversified classroom; more international staff; increased English skills of staff; and that internationalisation becomes more mainstream.


In relation to the future of ETBs the authors - Carmen Neghina, Head of Intelligence at StudyPortals and Anna-Malin Sandström, Policy Director of EAIE - concluded that two developments stood out. "First, respondents predicted a higher demand for ETBs and, as a result, a larger, more varied offer of such programmes. Second, they recognised the need to identify (niche) programmes the institution can excel in to respond to growing market competition," they said.


Explaining the inspiration for the report, the authors said that the growth of English-taught master's (ETM) courses had been well documented, rising from 725 in 2001 to 8,089 in 2014, and that this study was the first attempt to "investigate whether ETBs are undergoing a similar trajectory and are enhancing internationalisation".


Despite the proliferation of ETBs, the majority of the destinations profiled in the study still had more English-taught master's (ETMs) on offer than ETBs, with the exceptions being Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


The full report is available from the StudyPortals website.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor