Greek Universities Lag Behind in Foreign Student Numbers, Study Suggests



According to the study ”The shape of global higher education: International Comparisons with Europe,” conducted recently by The British Council, Greek universities lag behind other European universities in regard to the number of foreign students they attract.

The study focused on three main issues: the number of foreign students a country attracts,  the research cooperation in which it engages, and cross-border education.

Greek universities received 0.62 out of 1.00 in the combined score for these three factors,, putting them in fifteenth place among twenty countries from around the world.

In terms of actual numbers of foreign students who choose Greece for their studies, the results are disappointing.

Not only has the total of students fallen since the financial crisis, but the vast majority of foreign students in the country are either Cypriot nationals or students with foreign passports, who are living in Greece permanently.

From a total of approximately 24,000 foreign students who were attending classes in Greece in 2017, more than 13,000 were Cypriots, people who speak the same language as Greeks. In a broader sense, Greek Cypriots practically do not ”count” as foreign students, since thousands of Cypriots have traditionally studied in Greece and vice-versa.

The remainder of the foreign students came from the migrant communities who are now living in Greece, mainly from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

The actual number of foreign students who chose to move to Greece and study in 2017 was only three thousand.

Greece, due to a variety of reasons, continues to lag behind many countries in attracting foreign students. Among the most important reasons for this, is the lack of a coherent national plan to attract them, and the lack of English-speaking departments and postgraduate degrees.

Perhaps most important of all is of course the Constitutional ban of all private higher-education institutions, which does not allow competition to flourish.

Experts believe that the expansion of the number of courses and degrees offered in the English language, along with other reforms, could put Greece back on track, as its language is considered too difficult to attract students who would otherwise have loved to study in the country.

Some positive aspects of Greek higher education

The British Council study, however, clarified that Greek Universities are ranked very high in terms of academic excellence.

By counting the impact of academic publications of Greek Universities, the country’s institutions ranked seventh among all twenty countries, considerably higher than the average.

According to the study, if 1.00 represents the average impact publications from a country’s universities have in global academia, Greek universities scored 1.44, putting them solidly in the top tier in terms of quality of research and education.