Update on Application Trends

The trends highlighted by UK NARIC last year seem to be continuing.

The latest figures from UK NARIC and UK NCP confirm that the trend for increased mobility of citizens from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece and that the UK is experiencing an increase in the number of people expressing an interest in coming to the UK to work, practice or study.

UK NARIC Assessments
Country 2009 assmts 2009 rank 2010 assmts 2010 rank 2011 assmts 2011 rank 2012 assmts 2012 rank
Greece 118 46th 148 42nd 146 41st 305 29th
Italy 539 17th 593 18th 647 14th 785 11th
Portugal 210 36th 192 35th 225 34th 361 24th
Spain 541 16th 683 16th 766 12th 1305 6th
UK NCP Enquiries
Country 2009 enqs % of total 2010 enqs % of total 2011 enqs % of total 2012 enqs % of total
Greece  NA  NA 17 3.1% 8 2.9% 36 4.0%
Italy  NA  NA 42 8.6% 46 7.8% 82 10.0%
Portugal  NA  NA 15 3.5% 17 1.4% 33 4.4%
Spain  NA  NA 50 10.2% 81 13.7% 200 24.5%

Figures for 2009 for UK NCP are unavailable.

The data from UK NARIC and UK NCP show that there have been significant increases in assessments and enquiries:

Country UK NARIC% change2009 – 12 UK NCP% change2010 – 12
Greece + 158% + 112%
Italy + 45% + 95%
Portugal + 72% + 120%
Spain + 141% + 300%

The increases experienced by these countries far outstrips the performance of any other countries in the region.

Based on figures from 2009, 2010 and 2011 we have been able to model the demand for UK NARIC assessments in 2013.  The figures below are based on real application figures for the first quarter of 2013:

UK NARIC Assessments
Country Jan 2013 Feb 2013 Mar 2013 Total 2013 Total Projected 2013 Projected v 2012 Real
Greece 37 21 29 87 320 105%
Italy 102 84 95 281 1033 132%
Portugal 27 55 52 134 493 137%
Spain 157 138 191 486 1787 137%


Data from UK NARIC and UK NCP shows that there has been a considerable increase in the number of assessments and enquiries from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.  While this data does not definitely mean that the individuals submitting these requests do actually come to the UK to work, study or practice, there is a definite link between them.

The increases from Spain and Greece have been particularly noticeable and these may well be linked to the economic difficulties that these countries have been experiencing.

Whatever the reason, it does mean that employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies have a wider pool of highly qualified and highly talented individuals available to choose from.


Tim Buttress, June 2013

Spotlight: Turkey

TurkishFlagTurkey is situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Bordered by eight countries, Turkey is a major regional power and is becoming increasingly integrated with the West through its membership of NATO, the Council of Europe and the G-20.

Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership: it began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995.

Closer ties with the EU, which may or may not lead to membership, are driving educational redevelopment in many forms, including a qualification structure, professional qualification recognition and VET reform. Turkey has also been heavily involved with the Lifelong Learning Programme, and it has been estimated that, between 2007-13, almost 250,000 Turks will have benefitted from EU education and training programmes.

However, it still retains close ties with the Middle East, the Turkic States of Central Asia and African countries.  The population is roughly 80 million, with a relatively young age profile: 26.6% are under 15 years old (as a comparison, 18% of the UK population is below 15).

In the last decade, Turkey has enjoyed robust economic growth, per capita GDP rising more than fourfold (in 2011, for instance, the growth figure stood at 8.8%). At the time of writing, Turkey is the world’s 16th and Europe’s 6th biggest economy.


Turkey has been one of the most popular country files on the International Comparisons database in recent years.  In 2011, Turkey received 9,921 views.  This figure represents a 3.2% fall on the 2010 figure (10,240), but is an increase on 2009 (9,778).

“The figures for Turkey are intriguing.  We see a lot of traffic to the relevant pages on International Comparisons and we get a lot of individuals coming to us with Turkish qualifications; but there aren’t that many applications coming through UCAS.  The most recent figures show that there were only 450 applications and the country doesn’t feature in their top 50 countries.” commented Tim Buttress, Deputy Director Policy and Communications at UK NARIC.

Visa data may demonstrate why. According to the UED (Association of International Education Counsellors, in Turkey), there are now more than 55,000 Turkish nationals studying abroad, with 55% of these relating to language courses. English language courses in the UK have always been particularly popular (and likewise constitute the bulk of visa applications), although recent visa restrictions and costs have led to an increase in interest in other study destinations such as Malta.

Traditionally at higher education level, the most popular destination is the USA. According to UNESCO, Germany, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and the UK make up the rest of the top five study destinations.

Higher Education in Turkey

The higher education sector is currently experiencing considerable expansion. There are now roughly 170 universities, about 75 of which are run by private foundations. In terms of student numbers, there are now more than 2 million higher education students, of which more than 1 million are in undergraduate programmes and ½ million are in higher vocational schools. Only 9% of students are enrolled at the private, foundation universities, indicating the increased specialisation of these institutions.

An increasing global view and focus on quality assurance within higher education is beginning to pay dividends too: in terms of reputation, Middle East Technical University featured in the top 100 ranked universities in the 2012 THE study.

Nonetheless, this provision does not meet domestic demand for education and helps to explain the high numbers of students seeking to travel abroad to study each year. In 2009, for instance, 1.65 million university applications were made, but places for only 330,000 (20%) were available.

Turkey as an International Student Destination

Turkey is itself fast becoming an established destination country for international students. Statistics from the ÖSYM (Student Selection and Placement Center) show that there were 16,000 international students at Turkish universities in 2005-06 and that the number had increased to almost 27,000 by the 2010-11 academic year.

The admission of more foreign students has been stimulated by a governmental drive to play a greater role in the Islamic world, with offers of low tuition fees and generous scholarships. Additionally, in 2010, TUPA (Turkish Universities Promotion Agency) was formed to promote Turkish universities across the world and to attract international students. The Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEK) Business Education Council aims to increase the number of international students to 100,000 by 2015.

Official language(s) Turkish
Other language(s) Kurdish and other minority languages
Population 79,749,461 (Jul-12)
Population (world ranking) 17 (Jan-12)
GDP (purchasing power parity) $ 1,053,000,000,000 (Jan-11)
GDP (per capita world ranking) 107 (Jan-11)
Compulsory education Eight years, covering primary and basic education (ages 6 to 14). However, see Education Reforms below.
Academic year School begins in late September and extends through to early June, with some variations between urban and rural areas. Universities usually organise the academic year into two semesters, usually between October – January and between March – July.
Education laws New “4+4+4” Bill, proposing an extension of compulsory school education to 12 years and a reintroduction of more progression pathways at ‘middle school’ level – which has proved controversial as it will re-open progression at age 10 into imam hatip (religious-oriented) middle schools.
Outgoing students
Total (foreign students) 47,275 (2009)
Percentage of world total 1.4% (2009)
Top Destinations USA (12,612), Australia (7,648), France (5,803), Russian Fed. (3,518), Japan (2,895) – 2009
Number of Member Enquiries 2011 73
Member Enquiries 2011 rank 48th
Number of Individual Assessments 2011 237
Individual Assessments 2011 rank 32nd
Number of database page views 2011 9,921
Database page views 2011 rank 24th
Number of database page views 2010 10,240
Database page views 2010 rank 25th

Recognition of Joint Programmes

As Erasmus Mundus Programmes and joint programmes in general are increasingly gaining popularity, several projects and initiatives have been launched to explore solutions to the common problems associated with joint degree offerings: accreditation and recognition.

Through our partnership in the JOQAR Project (Joint programmes: Quality Assurance and Recognition), UK NARIC is actively involved in the on-going work that aims to facilitate  joint degrees in these two areas.

JOQAR (2010 -2013) plans to achieve its aims by developing multilateral recognition agreements between accreditation bodies; establishing a European Coordination point for external quality assurance and accreditation; raising awareness about the ENIC-NARIC network’s expectations regarding the design of the degree and the content of the Diploma Supplement.

In the scope of the project, the JOQAR Recognition Team is currently developing a set of guidelines for higher education institutions that will provide recommendations and examples of good practice regarding the award of the degree certificates and the Diploma Supplements to graduates of joint programmes.

UK NARIC will present the findings and the intermediate outcomes of the project during the three Bologna Regional Workshops organised by the British Council in October-December 2012.

For further information on JOQAR project please visit the project website.


Tim Buttress, September 2012

Further Trends from Western Europe

Further to the Application Trends from Western Europe, there are some interesting statistics which highlight the same points from the membership enquiries we receive.

Member Enquiries

Universities and Colleges make up over 66% of UK NARIC’s membership. Whilst the number of enquiries UK NARIC receives from members is significantly lower, it does give a stronger indication of the spread of applications being received.  The following two tables show how enquiries from Western Europe have changed over the past three years:

Country 2008 assmts 2008 rank 2009 assmts 2009 rank 2010 assmts 2010 rank 2011 assmts 2011 rank
Austria 31 74th 33 77th 41 73rd
Belgium 62 43rd 59 47th 69 50th
Denmark 34 72nd 37 69th 38 78th
Finland 42 58th 66 69th 34 80th
France 284 6th 311 6th 399 6th
Germany 278 7th 272 8th 223 11th
Greece 99 25th 105 27th 142 21st
Iceland 5 139th 5 145th 3 167th
Ireland 102 24th 68 41st 95 40th
Italy 158 15th 197 12th 205 14th
Luxembourg 2 167th 4 154th 1 190th
Malta 7 134th 14 106th 15 112th
Netherlands 93 30th 71 39th 98 37th
Norway 37 67th 26 81st 43 72nd
Portugal 84 32nd 87 32nd 134 23rd
Spain 168 14th 150 18th 213 14th
Sweden 43 55th 51 54th 45 69th
Switzerland 91 31st 120 21st 125 27th
UK 956 3rd 896 3rd 936 3rd
Total 2,576 2,572 2,859
Country 2009 2011 % change
Greece 99 142 + 43%
Ireland 102 95 – 7%
Italy 158 205 + 30%
Portugal 84 134 + 60%
Spain 168 213 + 27%
W. Europe Total 2,576 2,859 + 11%

2008 Figures are not currently available.


The membership enquiry and individual application figures from UK NARIC support reports that the economic troubles in certain countries within the Euro-zone mean that well qualified individuals are increasingly coming to the UK to work and / or study.

Those wishing to come to the UK to work, study or practice might find the following pages detailing how UK NARIC can help in Spanish, ItalianFrench, German, Romanian, Polish, Czech, Russian and Turkish useful.  An English version of the page is also available.


Tim Buttress, August 2012 (updated June 2013)