Slight downturn in number of international students at Estonian universities in 2020

09.12.2020 | 15:16

There are 5236 international degree students in Estonia in the 2020/2021 academic year, which is 292 less than in the previous academic year. International degree students currently make up 11.6% of the students in Estonia compared to 12.2% in previous academic year.
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Indrek Reimand, the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia, says that the slight decrease in the number of international degree students reflects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “That’s most clearly indicated by the number of admitted students this autumn, which decreased by a quarter,” he explained. “The fact that international students want to study in Estonia is proof of the competitive strength of the higher education we offer. Local teaching staff and students alike have said that an international learning environment boosts the quality of discussions and education in general.”

This autumn, 1450 international degree students began studies in formal education at Estonian universities, compared to 2026 students in the 2019/2020 academic year.

The number of international students in Master’s programmes is the highest – 2184 or 41% of all international students currently enrolled at universities in Estonia due to focus on the internationalisation of higher education, especially of the Master’s and PhD studies.

The three most popular areas of studies are business, administration and law (1803 international students), arts and humanities (759) and information and communication technologies (669).

Estonia has prioritised diversity in the internalisation of higher education. The international degree students enrolled at Estonian universities come from 120 countries. By far the highest number still come from Finland (1140), followed by Russia (447), Nigeria (325) and Ukraine (254).

Estonia considers it important for international students to complete their studies here. In the 2019/2020 academic year, a total of 1345 international students graduated in Estonia, constituting 14.7% of all graduates. Statistics from earlier years indicate a lower dropout rate among international students compared to local students.

International degree students help to compensate for the national shortage of highly skilled employees and thus raise the competitive power of the Estonian economy. The OSKA survey suggest that in the coming years this shortage will be greatest in the field of ICT. The survey ‘Success on the Labour Market’ indicates that a third of those international students who remained in Estonia after their studies are employed in the field of information and communications. In 2018, the processing industry, education and financial and insurance activities were the the fields that employed the highest number of Master’s graduates who stayed in Estonia.