More than 5000 UK students enroll at Bulgarian universities

Bulgaria has recently witnessed a surge in popularity among international students, with British students forming the largest group of students from abroad enrolled at Bulgarian higher education institutions, a media statement on December 8 said.

A webinar by British Council’s Transnational Education (TNE) in Europe series, which took place on November 23 2023, shed light on this growing trend, revealing that the number of students from the United Kingdom studying in Bulgaria currently totals 5000, the statement said.

Based on the latest information, Bulgarian higher education institutions host a total of 18 197 international students, the majority from the UK, followed by Greece and Germany, also contributing significantly to the diverse student body in Bulgaria, reports.

These students can acquire a double degree – one from a Bulgarian university and the other from a British institution. At the same time, British students avoid paying the usual tuition fees in the UK, according to a report by the University World News.

During the webinar, Dobryana Petkova, cross-sectoral projects manager at the British Council in Bulgaria, highlighted the appeal of programmes offered in English by Bulgarian universities, which she said are easily adaptable for collaborative provision.

“Many Bulgarian universities, as well as the Academy of Science, offer a range of programmes in the English language. These are popular with Bulgarian and international students and are easy to adapt to be offered as part of a collaborative provision,” Petkova said.

The appeal of Bulgarian universities is not limited to British students alone, the statement said.

An increase in interest among students from other countries has also been observed, especially those from Morocco, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Türkiye, and neighbouring European countries.

The availability of programmes offered in the English language and the chance to obtain a double degree – one from the UK or another country and another from within the European Union – positions Bulgaria in a strong position regarding recruiting international talent, the statement said.

On the other hand, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show a different trend when it comes to Bulgarian students studying in the United Kingdom. Data have revealed a decline in the number of full-time Bulgarian students in the UK.

In the academic year 2021/22, the UK institutions hosted nearly 3700 full-time Bulgarian students, down from 5400 students in the previous year.

In the same academic year, Bulgaria had more than 17 000 international students, 5.6 per cent more than in 2020/21, according to data released by the country’s National Statistical Institute (NSI).

The majority of students that year were from Greece (24.1 per cent), followed by the UK (15 per cent), Germany (9.5 per cent), Ukraine (6.7 per cent) and North Macedonia (5.6 per cent).

(Archive photo of Sofia University: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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