There are 46,101 international students from 158 countries studying in Poland, 10.000 more than a year ago (28% increase). Polish universities never experienced such a growth. Currently international students make up 3.1% of the total student body in the country (seven years ago the figure was 0.6%, in 2014 - 2.3%).
Increase of the internationalisation factor is due not only to the growing number of foreigners, but also to the decrease of the total number of students in Poland. In the academic year 2014/15 there are 1,469,386 people studying at the Polish universities – over 80,491 students fewer than in the previous year, and over 265,000 fewer than three years ago.
Ever more Ukrainians. The increase in the number of international students in Poland has been mostly due to the unprecedented influx of students from Ukraine. In the current academic year there are 23,329 students from Ukraine– 8206 more than last year. They make up over 50% of the total number of foreign students in Poland(last year there were 8 percent less). The rapid growth of their number is the result both of a ten-years of steady marketing and promotional presence of the Polish university on this market (especially as part of the "Study in Poland" programme), and of the difficult political situation in Ukraine.
Rise of Ukrainian monoculture at some Polish universities may result in future conflicts. According to Bianka Siwińska, PhD, the author of the report "Foreign students in Poland in 2014": “Due to the steady dynamic growth of the number of Ukrainian students there is more and more talk about “ukrainisation” of Polish universities. Last year there were some xenophobic incidents in several academic centres. The academic community, public opinion, local governments and people responsible for state public policy in the field of higher education should pay special attention to these trends; they should propose solutions supporting proper integration of Ukrainian students into the life of university and local community. Good practice in this area represents the INTERSTUDENT competition for the best international student in Poland, organised for the last five years. But this is definitely not enough.”
2015 trends. Belarusians are the second biggest group of foreign students in Poland (4118), followed by Norwegians (1538), Spaniards 1188 and Swedes (1290). In the academic year 2014/15 over 83% of international students came to Poland from the European countries.
In comparison with the world average, Poland has very few students from Asia–5602. However, it should be noted that for the first time in five years we have observed a growing trend in this category. At the moment, Polish universities host 785 students from China (increase by over 100% compared to the previous year), 410 from Taiwan, and 545 from India (increase by 227 over the previous year). At the same time the number of Vietnamese (205) and Malaysian (211) students have decreased slightly.
Despite heavy promotional efforts by Polish universities, the number of students from South America is not growing (there are 109, including 49 from Brazil). The number of students from North and Central America have been dropping (there are 1172, 174 fewer than last year). On the other hand, we see more interest in studying in Poland in Africa (there are 127 more students from that region than last year, bringing the total up to 719). There are also more students from Saudi Arabia (804) and Turkey (1024).
World context. It is estimated that on the global scale the market of international studies brings about USD 100 billion a year to the countries hosting foreign students. The annual input of the international students into the Polish economy is currently estimated at 150 million euro.
In the world over 4.5 million students study outside their own countries. According to the prognoses, by 2020 this number will double. Over a half of international students come from Asia (the majority from China, India and Korea). Most foreign students study in the OECD countries including USA, Australia, UK, Germany and France. These “great five” host over a half of all the international students in the world. Recently 7% of them travel to China.
Despite the spectacular growth, there is still not only less percentage of foreign students studying in Poland in comparison to the most developed Western countries or in China, but also in comparison with our neighbours: Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, even Bulgaria. Apart from Croatia Poland is the least internationalised country of the European Union and one of the least internationalised in OECD.
Despite the spectacular growth, the percentage of international students in Poland is still lowe than in most developed Western countries or in China; it is also lower than at our neighbors: Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, even Bulgaria. Apart from Croatia Poland is the least internationalised country of the European Union and one of the least internationalised in OECD.
Source: Perspektywy Educational Foundation, based on information from the Central Statistical Office of Poland “Initial Data on Higher Education 2014". A detailed analysis including new detailed data, data from international sources and the results of Perspektywy own research will be presented in the report "Foreign Students in Poland 2015". to be published in September 2015.