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Nordic countries top for international student satisfaction in Europe

Finland, Sweden and Denmark have ranked in the top three European countries for international student satisfaction, most notably for academics and organisation of their universities while Southern European countries have been left trailing in the latest StudyPortals student satisfaction report.

Finland ranked number one this year receiving praise for its high level of academics, great social life and impressive university services

Almost 7,000 students made 16,427 comments on StudyPortals student experience platform STeXX for the academic year 2013-14 and were most influenced by the city atmosphere, subjects, teachers and the mix of international students.

A high 89% of students would recommend their experience and nearly seven out of 10 international students would rate it with a nine out of 10 or 10 out of 10, showing the appetite for study abroad is still strong.

“The biggest changes were in the country lists and this year all the Nordic countries did really well”

“The biggest changes were in the country lists and this year all the Nordic countries did really well, all of them surpassing Norway which came first last year and seventh this year,” Tiina Niemi from StudyPortals research team told The PIE News.

Finland ranked number one this year and scored 9.2 out of 10, receiving praise for its high level of academics, great social life and impressive university services. Sweden which scored 9.1 was most often recommended by students for its urban and social life.

There was not much change at the bottom of the table and Southern European countries although improving and liked for their Mediterranean climate, still came last overall, owing to poor bureaucracy, student services and sometimes academic-related problems.

The average European score is 8.8 out of 10 and Spain, Italy and France scored 8.6, 8.4 and 8.3 respectively.

“We found out that the process for international students in France can be a bit of a mess”

“We found out that the process for international students in France can be a bit of a mess, there’s a lot of paperwork with students running from office to office,” said Niemi.

However Niemi noted France could potentially elevate its position in future: “Overall the comments were positive, for example for academics so France might be able to do better if they have more simple processes and more services for international students.”

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The European average score was 8.8 out of 10 this year.

Outside of the Nordic countries, Poland has ranked well jumping from 13th to fifth place this year. “Poland did quite a lot better this year, and this is the country we think is the one to watch,” advised Niemi.

One Italian student commented about Poland: “Poland is just perfect for Erasmus and Wroclaw is one of the best cities for students. Very good public transport, many pubs and clubs, good accommodation, many different activities and good connections for travelling.”

Another interesting finding of the report was that non-European students rate their study experience higher than European students themselves.

Non-European students are also more concerned with academics, subject availability and teaching standards while European students more frequently mention the city and culture.

Among its recommendations, StudyPortals advises universities to continue expanding course offerings in English, using students in interactive teaching methods and modernising facilities and equipment.

It also suggests improving administration between home and host universities, avoiding complicated or lengthy bureaucratic processes, and providing obligatory language training to all student-focused staff.

This is StudyPortals’ third survey of its kind which was first undertaken in 2011 and then 2013. This year StudyPortals is issuing awards to universities which have achieved consistently high student ratings on the STeXX platform.

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