International Student Numbers Decline at Bulgarian Universities

Bulgaria Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 30, 2024

Buildings in Sofia, Bulgaria

Fewer international students have chosen Bulgaria as their study abroad destination in the 2023/24 academic year compared to previous years, official figures have shown.

The National Statistical Institute (NSI) revealed on April 26 that 15,103 international students are studying at Bulgaria's universities, accounting for over 8 percent of the total student population, reports.

Of these students, 14,534 are enrolled at public higher education institutions, and the remaining 1,177 in private higher schools.

Differently, in the 2022/23 academic year, 17,593 international students were pursuing studies in Bulgaria, seeking master's and bachelor's degrees. The number of international university students in Bulgaria also declined from 2021/22, when the country became home to 17,616 students.

According to NSI figures, overall there are over 196,000 students at universities and specialized higher education institutions in the country in 2023/24. International students are pursuing professional bachelor’s degrees (618 students), bachelor's degrees (4,116 students), Master’s degrees (10,977 students), and PhDs (651 students).

Female international students in Bulgaria surpass male students, 8,017 and 7,694, respectively. Among female students, 7,635 are enrolled in public higher education institutions and 382 in private schools.

More men than women from abroad pursue bachelor’s degrees in Bulgaria, 2,307 and 1,809, respectively. On the other hand, women surpass men in Master’s programs, with 6,066 female students pursuing Master’s at the country’s universities. This share among men is 4,911 students.

Another 651 international students are pursuing a PhD at Bulgarian institutions in 2023/24. The majority of international students in Bulgaria are from the following countries:

  • Greece (21.1 percent)
  • United Kingdom (14.4 percent)
  • Germany (9.8 percent)
  • Ukraine (9.5 percent)
  • Italy (6.1 percent)

“The foreign students in the country choose mainly health-related studies, as 63.3 percent of them were studying specialties in this field and 49.5 percent of the total number were studying Medicine. In 2023, a total of 42.5 thousand persons graduated from universities and specialised higher schools in the country, of whom 22.1 thousand with a bachelor’s and 20.4 thousand with a master’s degree,” NSI’s report reads.

According to NSI, international students have chosen health-related studies, with 633 percent studying specialties. Additionally, 49.5 percent of the total students study medicine.

The majority of international students in Bulgaria during the 2022/23 academic year were from Greece (22 percent), the UK (14.4 percent), Germany (9.8 percent), Ukraine (9.1 percent), and the Republic of North Macedonia (5.6 percent).

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