The Italian outbound student market offers great international student recruitment opportunities. This huge untapped potential is open to international education providers both within and outside Europe
But what is the current Italian socio-economic and employment landscape? Which are the main factors that positively affect student mobility? What makes Italian students such an attractive target for recruiters from around the globe?
There is so much more to Italy than just its beauty
In 2015, Italy’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose. Businesses continued to dismiss workers amidst concerns that the country’s exit from recession might not prove sustainable in the long run. Youth unemployment jumped to a record-high 44.2 %, the highest since 2004. In June 2015 alone, about 22,000 people lost their jobs. As of March 2016, however, unemployment rate is 39.2%, showing a steady improvement.
Italy’s GDP per capita ($35,335 as of 2014) and students’ living expenses starting at €650 per month are considered as fairly above average compared to other European countries. Therefore, local students with financial resources are able and motivated to pursue educational opportunities abroad. Local experts state that the difficult economic situation has encouraged Italian families to invest their savings in education and training abroad for their children.
Economic recovery and ultimately stability would solve the country’s issues related to labour productivity, GDP rate, public investment, business activity and innovation. So, despite all setbacks, Italy has the resources to maintain growth for the years to come.
Investment in knowledge
The potential for international student recruitment in Italy keeps growing because of the high number of total students (more than 1.9 million) and a significant international mobility activity (nearly 50,000 outbound students on tertiary level alone). Average TOEFL score of 90 points (as of 2014) also indicates plenty of opportunities, especially for English-speaking programmes and institutions.
According to projections, the UK will remain the #1 destination for Italian postgraduates by 2024, hosting roughly 9,500 students annually. Other top destinations include Germany, which is forecast to host 6,200 Italian postgraduates, and the US, with 4,200. We will see the strongest annual average growth rate in postgraduate student flow from Italy to Australia (+4.2%), followed by Canada (+3.7%), Germany (+3.3%) and the UK (+2.3%).
Needs and motivations
In a recent survey on current trends in international student mobility, Italians selected “international recognition of qualifications” and “cultural interest and lifestyle” as the top 2 factors they consider when choosing where to study abroad. In addition, compared to the international student average, Italian students display a notable preference for countries where conditions for staying on to work after graduation are favourable. They also actively seek opportunities to improve their language skills.
It’s interesting that scholarship and financial aid availability appear lower down Italian students’ list of factors, compared to other countries. On one hand, this may be partially explained by their preference for Western European countries such as France and Germany, where low or no tuition fees make funding less of a concern. On the other, it could also indicate a lack of information or sufficient awareness about such programmes and opportunities.
What to know?
Before embarking on a journey to attract Italian students, international student recruiters should have in mind the following:
- gain in-depth knowledge of Italy as a sending country
- get to know local student needs and motivations
- build a strong network with local agents and other relevant actors
What is your experience with recruiting Italian students? Are there any particular challenges you encounter or seek to overcome? Where do you find information about international student recruitment opportunities in Italy?
Let us know in the comments below!