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Foreign students in Poland - numbers and facts 2018

There are 72 743 foreign students from 170 countries studying in Poland, over 6 950 more than a year ago (over 10% increase) in the academic year 2017/2018. Foreign students currently make up 5.63% of the total number of students in the country (ten years ago the figure was only 0.71%, in the academic year 2016/2017 - 4.88%). The upward trend has been maintained since 2005, i.e. since the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (CRASP) and Perspektywy Education Foundation launched the long-term “Study in Poland” program.

Internationalization up

Increase on internationalization ratio, which is 5.63%, is due to the fact that more and more foreign students study at Polish universities as well as decrease in the total number of students in Poland. In the academic year 2017/18, there were 1 291 870 students in Poland - over 57k less than in the previous year. Their number drops from year to year.

Students from Ukraine and Belarus are the dominant group at Polish universities. In the academic year 2017/2018, 37 829 Ukrainians and 6044 Belarusians were studying in Poland. This is another increase in the number of students from these countries. It results, among others, from a similar culture, close neighborhood and Poland's membership in the EU. However, wide offer, a wide range of courses and programs as well as a high level of teaching staff are the most important for them.

High quality of education is a criterion that is also important for other nationalities that decide to study in Poland. Among them there are students from India, who rank third in the list of foreigners studying in Poland (2987), and from Spain (1889). The number of Swedes (1160)  and Norwegians (1466), who mostly prefer medical universities in Poland, has been falling. More and more students come to Poland from Turkey (1807), Czech Republic (1448) and Germany (1257).

The number of students from Asia increased, for example from Taiwan (853). Polish universities pay more and more attention to Chineese education market. Every year thousands of young people from this country study abroad. Poland has only 1164 visitors, but there is a growing trend (increase of 211 students compared to the previous year). There is also a growing number of students from Kazakhstan (796), Azerbaijan (479), Nepal (404), Thailand (216), Bangladesh (214) and Tajikistan (187). However, students from Europe continue to be the main group studying at Polish universities. This situation requires increased promotional activities and an interesting educational offer on non-European markets, especially in Asia.

The number of students from the United States is on the same level as in the previous academic year. Currently, 768 Americans are studying in Poland, while the number of Canadians has increased (393). There are small numbers of students from South America and Africa studying at Polish universities.

Prospective markets

A rapid upward trend is observed, as far as students from India are concerned. Currently there are 2987 people from India studying in Poland, i.e 849 students more than in the previous year. Compared to the academic year 2016/2017, it was not such a spectacular increase when it reached 138%. A rapidly growing population in India and at the same time not enough places in Indian higher education institutions make them more and more considering studying abroad, including Poland.

Another future market for Polish universities is Kazakhstan. In the academic year 2017/18 Poland there was 796 students from this country. Their number consistently grows from year to year. Kazakhs attach great importance to education. They look for new opportunities to study abroad or for students exchange. This gives our universities the chance to attract more students from Kazakhstan.

World context

In the world over 5 million students study outside their own countries. Over a half of international students come from Asia (the majority is from China, India and Korea). Most foreign students study in the OECD countries including USA, UK, Germany and France. Over a half of all the international students in the world study in these countries. In recent years, foreign students choose Chinese universities. They develop at a fast pace and offer more and more interesting offers.

Despite the spectacular growth, there is still fewer percentage of foreign students studying in Poland in comparison to OECD countries or even in China. More foreign students study in  our neighbouring countries: Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Lithuania. Poland is, next to Greece, Spain and Slovenia, the least internationalised EU country and the least internationalised in OECD. Improvement of this situation requires action by all partners working for internationalization of Polish higher education.

 More information: Bianka Siwińska, +48 501 535 785, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Perspektywy