International students satisfied with quality of education, concerned about lack of career counseling
The International Student Barometer (IBS) has found that 89 percent of international students at Estonian universities are satisfied with the quality of education on offer, but find career guidance lacking.
IBS is the global benchmark study for the international student experience, in which Estonia took part for the third time.
In the academic year 2014-2015, 2,887 foreign students, plus 1,000 exchange students, were enrolled in Estonian universities. The sample of the survey was 1,035 international students in Estonia.
"Compared to the previous years we can see how regardless of the improvement of the quality of higher education in Estonia, the global average has gone up as well. This applies mostly to satisfaction with the learning experience, which in 2012 was 82 percent in Estonia (average 85) and is now 84 percent [average 87]. The problems most commonly highlighted by the respondents are lack of career guidance and other relevant services, including opportunities to find work in one's respective field of specialization," said Raul Ranne, head of the international education marketing department of Archimedes Foundation, a body that is responsible for coordinating and implementing different international and national training, education and research programs.
Eighty-seven percent of the respondents were satisfied with the living conditions in Estonia, citing safety, quality of the university premises, and reasonable living costs as main advantages.
Satisfaction with support and guidance services is of more concern. Although students are generally satisfied with assistance services, like the help provided with finding accommodation, they are less satisfied with guidance and career services and the lack of tutors.
The key concerns are career opportunities - lack of counseling, advice on labor market outlook, and work experience - as well as the structure of the courses, quality of teaching, the language proficiency of teachers, and lack of opportunities for doctoral students to gain valuable teaching experience. Students are also unhappy about the lack of opportunities for finding part-time employment to supplement their income while studying. They do, however, like the fact that most of the learning is done in small international study groups.
The IBS survey, conducted by the International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate), tracks international student experience from their application to graduation. It measures the satisfaction level of international students in eight areas, including arrival and orientation, learning experience, living experience, and support services.