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Study abroad and internationalisation of higher education in Serbia: student perspective

Together with the HERE (Higher Education Reform Experts) Team Serbia, the Serbian chapter of the Western Balkans Alumni Association (WBAA) has recently conducted a survey among Serbian students and alumni on study abroad experiences and their views on the state of internationalisation in Serbian higher education. The report details mobility experiences abroad and in Serbia, respondents’ comparisons between the two, the perceived state of internationalisation in Serbian higher education and it also puts forward recommendations for further research and for universities’ internationalisation activities.

Based on responses by more than 250 Serbian students and alumni, the report gives the following overview of mobility experiences and benefits:

  • The top five destination countries are Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands, followed by the US, France and Portugal
  • The main funding mobility schemes alumni benefited from are Erasmus+ (74.8%), Fulbright (2.4%), DAAD’s stipends (1.2%) and CEEPUS (1.2%)
  • The majority of respondents spent one semester abroad (including all levels, from Bachelor to post-Doc), and slightly fewer studied abroad one or two years, predominantly for master’s and bachelor studies
  • The main information sources about mobility opportunities are by far the internet (58%), followed by the home university and friends, 15.2% and 11.2% respectively
  • The perceived added value of mobility mainly links to multicultural experiences, gaining or improving language skills and forming contacts/friendships, while the main challenges span from lack of language skills (26.5%), insufficient exposure of international students to the local student community (30.4%) issues with accommodation (32%) to cumbersome visa issuing procedures (32%). 
  • The perceived positive employment prospects in Serbia after studying abroad vary by level of studies, decreasing from 72% by bachelor students, 53.6% by master students and 42.9% by doctoral and post-doc fellows. 
Looking at the “home turf”, above 80% of respondents think that internationalisation is highly relevant for Serbian higher education, but that universities should do more to provide necessary and up-to-date information online and improve their promotional activities to attract international students. What they see as possible challenges for international students studying in Serbia pertain to outdated curricula and lack of English proficiency among university staff, while some also refer to the challenge of removing prejudices against Serbia amongst international students. 
More information about the survey results can be found on the WBAA website. 
At the moment, the report is available only in Serbian, but it is to be translated into English in the near future.