A recent study written by Bernd Wächter and Friedhelm Maiworm published by the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) collected survey data from European education institutions to examine their use of programmes taught in English as a tool to increase mobility.
Data collected by ACA in collaboration with the Gesellschaft für Empirische Studien (GES) and StudyPortals BV shows that the number of English-taught bachelor and master programmes – referred to in the study as English-Taught Programmes (ETPs) in non-English-speaking European countries has more than tripled over the last seven years.
Comparing data from earlier studies shows how widespread the adoption of ETPs has become. The number of English-taught programmes was counted as 725 in 2001, 2,389 in 2007, and according to the present study, 8,089 in 2014.
Currently, Germany has the largest number of institutions offering such programmes, at 154, followed by France with 113, and Poland at 59.
In absolute terms, the Netherlands has the most ETPs with 1,078, followed by Germany with 1,030, and Sweden with 822.
The chart on the right shows the top ten countries for ETPs numerically, and the proportion within the total number of programmes available.
Because the number of higher education institutions per country differs, the percentages offer more revealing data. Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden offer the highest percentage of courses in English, whereas by proportion, France ranks below sixteen other European nations in offering ETPs and Germany ranks below fourteen other countries.
In terms of classroom make-up, the survey found that students from Europe formed by far the largest cohort in European ETPs. Below is a breakdown of students’ regional origins:
The 14% Asian grouping is composed of 4% from China, 4% from India, and 6% from the many other countries in the region.
The survey also tracked English language proficiency, and a large majority of ETP directors rated their students as good or very good in this area. Domestic students fared better in these assessments than foreign students, and students in social sciences, business, and law fared better than those in engineering, manufacturing, construction, and hard sciences. On the negative side, heterogeneity – that is, variation in command of English – was viewed as a problem in classrooms.