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The percentage of international degree students among the Estonian student body is still on the rise: as of November 2019, international students make up 12.2% of the student body (with the number of international students reaching 5528). Although the growth in numbers has slowed down slightly (growth in 2018 was 15%, growth in 2019 was 10%), the statistics still show that Estonian higher education is valued overseas and students from all over the world find the study opportunities here attractive.
The focus of internationalization of higher education in Estonia is mainly on Master’s and PhD programmes, which is why most international students in Estonia are studying on the Master level. Students acquiring a Master’s degree (including students enrolled in integrated Bachelor and Master’s programmes) make up 50% of all international students in Estonia. The number of international PhD students has also steadily been rising, nearing 600 as of 2019, which means a 15% growth compared to 2018. The top 3 most popular study fields among international students have not changed compared to previous years — international students mainly study Business, Law, Administration; Humanities and Arts; and Information Communications Technology
In 2019, Estonian universities have international students from 127 countries. Enrollment numbers decreased most for Turkish (-24%), Finnish (-21%), Georgian and USA (-15%) students. The biggest rise in total international student numbers comes from Aserbaijan (51%), Iran (46%) and Pakistan (41%). Most international students in Estonia still come from neighbouring countries Finland and Russia (23% and 8% accordingly). Georgia, Latvia and USA have fallen out of the TOP 10 of sending countries in 2019.
The biggest number of international students can be found in Tallinn University of Technology (1612), University of Tartu (1526) and Tallinn University (900). However, the percentage of international students compared to Estonian students is largest in Estonian Business School (36%, including EBS Helsinki students), Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences (29%) and Estonian Music and Theatre Academy (28%).
In the fall of 2019, international students in Estonia participated in a global satisfaction survey International Student Barometer. The results of the survey showed that over 90% of international students are happy at their Estonian home-university. It is also noteworthy that, for international students in Estonia, one of the main reasons behind choosing a study destination was the potential future career impact. 95% of international students found that to be either important or very important. This shows that international students believe Estonian education to be competitive on the global stage.
Eero Loonurm, Head of International Marketing Agency