According to official statistics from Erudera.com, 1,180 students from Croatia studied in the UK during the 2019/20 academic year, quite the increase from 360 students in 2014/15. 1,000 of those students were based in England, while the remaining 120 of them were in Scotland and 55 in Wales.
So what’s brought on the steep rise of Croatian students in the UK in recent years? The interest to study in the UK first increased when Croatia joined the EU in 2013, as students now have the opportunity to study in the UK without the need to apply for a study visa. According to Gent Ukëhajdaraj from Erudera, statistics show that prior to Croatia joining the EU, there weren’t any Croatian students pursuing studies in the UK during the 2012/13 academic year. Following the change, 2013/14 saw 210 Croatian students in the UK, and by 2018 that number went up to 1,125.
Another benefit following Croatia’s joining the EU is that university tuition became more affordable. In 2019, UK Universities Minister Chris Skidmore announced that EU students starting a degree in the 2020/21 academic year would have guaranteed home fee status and financial support for the duration of their studies in England, meaning that they will pay the same fees as UK students do.
Skidmore stated that the government values the “important contribution that international students, including those from the EU, make to our universities and it is a testament to our world-leading higher education system that so many students from abroad choose to come and study here.” He continued to say that while the UK has chosen to go forward with Brexit, “we are not leaving Europe, and our universities thrive on the diversity of being global institutions”. Moreover, the country allows the best international students to remain in the UK and contribute to society through the Graduate route, giving them the opportunity to work or look for work at any skill level for 2 years (3 years for doctoral students).
But what about the educational and cultural benefits?
It seems that many Croatian students come to the UK to study highly-regarded subjects such as business, law, medicine and science, due to the quality of education and the supportive environment that UK universities offer, as well as the chance to study at some of the oldest and highest-ranking universities such as Oxford or King’s College London. But many come to apply for creative subjects such as fine and applied arts, textiles and design, English literature, film, performing arts etc. It helps that the country, especially London, is known for being a creative capital due to its rich cultural history as well as its industry connections, thus promising more career opportunities within a more creative, open-minded community. According to a King’s College student of English with film studies, studying in the UK opens up “more prosperous possibilities to follow my career path abroad than back home. Career-wise, I have been able to make connections in my area of interest faster and the quality of the options available to me is better”.
And of course, there are the benefits of studying in another language in general. Bilingualism is viewed as highly respectable and can prove beneficial when applying for jobs. And one of the most exciting aspects of studying abroad, it leaves for opportunities to travel and meet new people.
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