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Student Life in Europe and The USA

VU International News and Reviews No. 118 August 27 2018

July 2019

The German Centre for studies on Higher Education and Research has published a report on “Social and Economic Conditions of Student Life in Europe”. The report is the synopsis of indicators of EUROSTUDENT VI: 2016-2018, a project funded by the EU through Erasmus+ and co-sponsored by the German and Dutch education ministers. Eurostudent is a comparative data collection and analysis effort for students in the 28 EU member states and the report presents the findings of the 6th round – the first report dates from 1997. Key topics in the EUROSTUDENT VI are *) International student mobility and *) Access to higher education – as well as the interplay between them.

It takes some scrolling – to page 24 and then further down for the next chapters – until we get a glimpse of the findings. Some of them rather obvious (most students are young) and others more interesting. The report is much too rich to summarise; I will focus here on international mobility with just one remark on housing.

International Mobility

The report shows that Scandinavian and German students stand the biggest chance of a Study Abroad experience (10% or more). ICT students are least likely to go abroad. It confirms once again that students who are the first in their family to study are also less likely to go abroad. Most students use programmes like ERASMUS+. Money and separation from dear ones are the most prominent obstacles; again these weigh more heavily on first generation students.

On housing: Accommodation may take between over 45% (Denmark, France) to less than 30% (Lithuania, Slovakia) of the students’ budget, with major variations also within-country.

Also in this period, the Chronicle of Higher Education has published a 27-page report, based on a panel discussion they organised, on “The Student Life Cycle” and how to improve the student experience.

In the panel, senior managers of universities in the US came together to discuss how the university can improve its interactions with its students to make their experiences contribute to both study success and a lasting positive bond with the university.

It looks at what is menat by “Student Life Cycle”, to what extent the relationship between (increasingly diverse) students and university need rethinking, how to break down the silos between the various administrative services, and how to use data both effectively and ethically.

Although the report contains expert opinions rather than data and data analysis, it may serve others to trigger and focus their own thinking on the topic.

One observation: the panel and report are US-based only. It would be interesting to repeat it in e.g. a European context.

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