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Boom in number of English-taught bachelor’s, with Turkey on top

There has been a huge surge in the number of English-taught bachelor’s available in Europe, according to recent research, with the number of these degrees at HEIs in the continent up fifty-fold since 2009.

Carmen Neghina from StudyPortals presents the research at the EAIE conference in Seville. Photo: The PIE News

The overall upsurge shows no signs of slowing down just yet

The research, produced jointly by EAIE and StudyPortals, also found that Turkey boasts the highest number of English-taught bachelor’s programs.

There were 2,900 ETBs identified in the StudyPortals database, BachelorsPortal, across 19 European countries, an increase from just 55 listed on the same search site eight years ago.

“Other countries are just now testing the boundaries as to what they can implement”

The growth in the number of ETBs has been relatively consistent on last year, however, after a noted boom in 2015 when the number grew by 43%.

Respondents to the research said that internationalising institutions was the main reason to offer English-taught bachelor’s.

Speaking to delegates at EAIE this week, Dana Petrova, director at the Centre for International Cooperation in Education, said that internationalisation was the main driver for the Czech Republic to offer such programs.

“You can’t attract foreign lecturers if you don’t speak the language,” she said.

Becoming or remaining competitive was cited as the second most important reason to offer these programs, according to the report, followed by attracting international talent.

Offering English-taught programs forces institutions to develop the required language skills, along with those of the local students, said Carmen Neghina, head of intelligence at StudyPortals.

It also impacts the number of international staff at the university, she added.

“With master’s degrees, sometimes the courses are 12, 15, 30 people, whereas the bachelor’s course can be anything between 100-300 students,” she told The PIE News.

“The number of teaching staff you need to actually manage the diverse and international group is also higher, so then it forces you to attract more international talent.”

Anna-Malin Sandström, policy officer at EAIE, said that when something new like is introduced, like these English-taught bachelor’s, it’s not surprising there would be an element of pushback.

“It appears in many cases actually relatively quickly [it] was sort of accepted and endorsed by the majority of both academic and administrative staff,” she told The PIE News.

While this is the only year that the number of ETBs has not experienced double digit growth, the overall upsurge shows no signs of slowing down just yet.

However, some countries’ growth is expected to slow before others’, such as the Netherlands, according to Neghina.

“Other countries are just now testing the boundaries as to what they can implement, how to go about it,” she said.

“There’s a lot more growth opportunities in France, in Spain, in Germany, in the countries that do have a lot of HEIs, but just a very low percentage of courses actually done in English.”

Turkey offers the largest number of English taught bachelor’s the report finds, with 545 across the country. This, explained Neghina, is in part due to its large number of private institutions.

“There’s a lot more growth opportunities in France, in Spain, in Germany, in the countries that do have a lot of HEIs”

While not offering as many programs, Germany comes out on top in Europe as the country with the most HEIs offering English taught bachelors, at 69.

However, the report notes that this is an indication of the size of the higher education system in the researched countries, as only 17% of the HEIs in Germany offer ETBs compared to the European average of 38%.

All of Switzerland’s HEIs offer ETBs, according to the research, along with around 75% of HEIs in the Netherlands.

While the number of English taught bachelor’s is on the rise, the number of master’s programs taught in English still dominates the EMI landscape across Europe, as English taught bachelor’s account for just 27% of all programs.

English-taught bachelor’s and master’s were overwhelmingly the most prevalent in the discipline of business and management, accounting for just over a quarter of all ETBs. This is followed by social sciences, and engineering and technology.

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