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Switzerland tops list of attractive countries – OECD

Switzerland, Norway and Germany have topped the latest OECD list of attractive countries for international university students due to their student visas allowing broad access to work during studies. Equal tuition fees for both domestic and foreign students also add to appeal of the countries.

Switzerland topped the list due to broad access to work during studies and similar tuition fees for domestic and foreign students. Photo: Bhuwan Dhingra

The least attractive countries were shown to be Chile, Israel, Greece, Mexico and Turkey

The report, which looked at how countries compare in terms of how attractive they are for highly-educated workers, entrepreneurs and international university students, found that the top five most attractive OECD countries for students are Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Finland and the US.

“The probability of obtaining a student visa penalises the US, Canada and Australia”

By contrast, international student hubs including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK fell in the latest ranking due to relatively high tuition fees.

“Taking into account the probability of obtaining a student visa penalises the US, Canada and Australia,” the report explained.

According to the OECD, the global competition for talent has led many countries to introduce more favourable policy frameworks for “the best and the brightest”, but many other factors contribute to shaping countries’ attractiveness.

“Beyond conditions for migration, it appears that adopting more favourable policy settings would enable most OECD countries to close most of their gap to the top-ranked country,” read the report, adding that this was shown to be “particularly salient for international students”.

Compared to high-educated workers and entrepreneurs, it continued, international university students are potentially attracted by a different set of countries.

In particular, the OECD found that the US, Canada and Australia – as well as other countries where English is widely spoken – scored higher with international students for the “skills environment” dimension because of English language use as well as their tertiary education spending.

Norway, Germany and Switzerland, by contrast, dominated the “income and tax” dimension, thanks to student visas allowing international students broad access to work during studies, as well as applying the same tuition fees to domestic and foreign students.

Furthermore, the future prospects dimension was shown to be more favourable in countries like France and Italy, which allow an easy transition to work permits after graduation.

Meanwhile, countries that do not allow students to work during studies  – such as Chile and Turkey – appeared among the bottom quartile of the report’s “income and tax” dimension.

Both before and after the inclusion of practices for admissions, the least attractive countries for international university students were revealed to be Chile, Israel, Greece, Mexico and Turkey.

“Such countries need to take decisive actions if they intend to remain competitive destination”

“Despite their low attractiveness… these countries may be perceived as an attractive destination for migrants from specific origin countries, language skills or cultural backgrounds,” the report concluded.

That said, it added, “these results also underline that such countries need to take decisive actions if they intend to remain competitive destinations in the global competition for talent.”

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