Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list
In mid-July the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) released in Brussels the sixth edition of its ESNSurvey titled E-Value-ate Your Exchange: Research Report of the ESNSurvey 2010. The publication addresses funding aspects of studies abroad, with additional insights into the way students evaluate their stay and studies abroad, as well as their degree of satisfaction with the ‘abroad’ vs. ‘at home’ experience. The survey was carried out online, through the ESN website, between June and December 2010. The results are based on a sample of close to 8 500 students, most of whom have been abroad with the ERASMUS Programme (88%) or through other types of exchange programmes (7%).
The findings are manifold. As the vast majority of respondents were former exchange students, it comes as no surprise that about 90% of them benefited from a study grant for their stay abroad. And while the students reported many shortcomings due to the small amount of the grants received, 35% of them also said they would have gone abroad even without this financial support. As far as student satisfaction is concerned, respondents were, in general, more satisfied with the quality of their overall stay abroad than with that of the studies at the host institution. Aspects such as social life and ‘atmosphere in the host city and country’ were rated as the two elements with which students were most satisfied. On average, students that went to the US, Denmark and Switzerland reported the highest satisfaction levels with the study offer abroad, while students that went to Estonia, Portugal and Austria, were most satisfied with the overall quality of their stay. Furthermore, and again on average, students tend to rate higher the host institution in comparison to their home institution. Interestingly though, they also report that, on average, the courses were more difficult at the home than at the host institution. It is not clear if there is any causal link between the two responses. Last but not least, the report also shows a negative correlation between mandatory stays abroad and student satisfaction levels with the stay abroad.
The main findings of the report are used to formulate a number of recommendations for national governments and EU policy-makers, higher education institutions and organisations providing services to international students.