Chelsea Samantha

Czech Republic sees 8.1% growth in international student recruitment despite the pandemic 

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The spread of COVID-19 has plagued higher education institutions across leading host countries with concerns over maintaining international student enrolment. But universities in the Czech Republic — which was rated 6th highest in the world for international student satisfaction in Studyportals Global Students Satisfaction Awards — seem to be facing a different reality. With an increase of 8.1% in its total number of students with non-Czech citizenship, the country is seeing just the opposite of what other countries are experiencing with regards to international student recruitment.  

Despite the pandemic, its total number of international students rose from 46,351 in 2019 to 50,121 last year. This number makes up over 17% of nearly 300,000 students that are spread across its public, state, and private higher education institutions. When looking at the list of the top ten source countries, the number of students from Russia, India, and Iran increased by more than 20%, while Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus recorded more than 10% growth. At some Czech universities, the number of international students enrolled in foreign language programmes had even increased by up to 30%. 

 

 

According to some university representatives, the possibility of distance enrolment to study and the shift to offer classes online may have contributed to the increase in the number of international students. Thanks to these changes, students who faced travel bans or delays in their visa application process were still able to begin their studies.  

 Czech universities are quite positive about the future development too. According to a quick poll executed in September 2021 by the Study in the Czech Republic initiative, 64% of higher education institutions expect that the number of enrolled international students will be the same or higher than in 2020.  

Student interest on Studyportals has also spiked with a 28% rise in page views for bachelors programmes in the Czech republic between march 2020 and February 2021. Student demand for programmes is measured by the number of times a programme is viewed by prospective students: this does not immediately translate into enrolments. Studyportals research, however, demonstrates a good correlation between student searches and enrolments, with an 18 months hiatus between the two. 

 The student interest seems to be fuelled by the growing overall attractiveness of the Czech Republic as a study destination. According to the Global Peace Index 2020, the Czech Republic ranks as the 8th safest country in the world. Moreover, it ranks as the 5th most affordable place to live in Europe and 2nd best place for working abroad. Its strategic location in the heart of Europe, suitable environment for study and research, affordable price tags on high quality education, large expat community and regional headquarters of many international companies make the Czech Republic an increasingly popular destination for international students. Recent national and institutional campaigns promoting the country have also likely had a positive effect on students’ decisions. 

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