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Overseas students in Ireland most satisfied in Europe

Ireland has been named the country with the most satisfied international students in Europe in the 2015 StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards, surpassing the Nordic countries for the first time.

Maynooth University was one of five institutions rated 'outstanding' in the 2015 StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards. Photo:Flickr/William Murphy.Maynooth University was one of five institutions rated 'outstanding' in the 2015 StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards. Photo:Flickr/William Murphy.

“Irish universities were appreciated mostly for the friendliness of the teachers, the close student community, the quality of the education, and referred to their courses as being 'inspirational' and 'innovative'"

Students on StudyPortals’s review website STeXX.eu praised the community atmosphere, innovative programmes and support structures at Irish universities, along with their varied multicultural mix.

“The biggest surprise this year is Ireland overtaking the Nordic countries”

Ireland received an overall student satisfaction rating of 9.04 out of 10, based on 17,018 reviews submitted in 2014-15.

“The biggest surprise this year is Ireland overtaking the Nordic countries, simply because students in Finland, Sweden and Denmark have been reporting the highest levels of satisfaction for the previous two years,” Carmen Neghina, education intelligence specialist at StudyPortals, told The PIE News.

“Irish universities were appreciated mostly for the friendliness of the teachers, the close student community, the quality of the education, and referred to their courses as being “inspirational” and “innovative” and offering a great combination of theoretical knowledge and applied skills,” she added.

Five of Ireland’s universities won awards, including Maynooth University, which received a certificate of Outstanding International Student Satisfaction.

“The university has a high level of studying. The campus consists of everything students need,” reads one five-star review on the website that also says Maynooth provides “the best experience to study abroad”.

The award “confirms what international students at Maynooth have been saying for some time”, commented dean of international and graduate studies, Ronan Reilly.

“Maynooth University has provided generations of students with an excellent university education that has touched and changed the lives of each one and has enabled and empowered remarkable achievements.”

Along with Maynooth, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Poznan University of Economics in Poland, Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the University of Heidelberg in Germany all received ‘outstanding’ awards.

Mapping student satisfaction across Europe. Image: StudyPortals.

Mapping student satisfaction across Europe, scored out of ten. Image: StudyPortals.

Despite being knocked from their top spots, Nordic countries once again scored highly, with Finland ranked second, praised for its strong student services and vibrant social life, followed by Sweden and Denmark.

In terms of sheer numbers, Spain had the highest number of winning universities (24) followed by Germany (16), and Italy (10).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, France had the least satisfied international students for the third consecutive year. None of its universities were ranked ‘outstanding’ or ‘excellent’, although five were rated ‘very good’.

“French universities were mostly criticised for not being student-centric enough, with students complaining about frequent schedule changes, overlapping courses, bureaucracy or limited English proficiency of the academic staff,” explained Neghina.

There has been a slight decrease in overall student satisfaction across Europe since 2014 from 89% to 86%. Neghina said the reasons are “hard to assess”, but added that StudyPortals is planning a more in-depth analysis of next year’s data, which promises to yield greater insights.

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