As the number of Bulgarian students is decreasing, foreigners studying in Bulgarian higher schools are getting more and more. For five years, the increase is 37.8% and their share reaches 7%. This is apparent from the data of the National Statistical Institute.
In the academic year 2018/2019 students – Bulgarian citizens, are 199.4 thousand, or 92.8% of all students in universities and specialized higher education institutions, and compared to the previous year their number decreased by 7.6 thousand, or by 3.7%.
Foreign students are 15.4 thousand, which is 8.5% more than last year.
The largest number of foreign students is from Greece – 24.6%, followed by the UK – 15.3%, Germany – 8.9%, Turkey – 7.9%, and Ukraine – 5.8% of the total number of foreign students.
Until six years ago, students from Turkey were the most numerous, reaching more than a third of foreign students in Bulgaria. Over the years, however, their number has fallen at the expense of the British, who were not included in the statistics before 2015 at all.
Britain’s interest in higher education in Bulgaria has not gone unnoticed by the British media. Two years ago, in a BBC report, it was mentioned that British youngsters who preferred to follow at the medical university in Varna rather than in their country because of cheaper maintenance and lower fees, and because Bulgarian higher education institutions already offer programs English.
It is not certain, however, that after Brexit this trend will persist after the British lose their status as EU citizens and, in addition to the higher fees, will have to apply for study visas on an equal basis with third-country nationals.
The NSI does not provide data on which foreign universities and majors are preferred, but the higher education institutions themselves state that attracting foreign students to them is a priority. For example, according to media publications, at least 1000 foreigners study at the Technical University.
Medical specialties for decades are popular among foreigners, including relatively lower fees, while the quality of education is considered good. From next year at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, medical students from EU countries will pay as well and the Bulgarians, at 925 leva per year. The medical training fee for English for newcomers in non-EU countries is 7700 euros. At the Medical University of Sofia for the same specialty will be paid from 900 leva to 48,000 euros per year, the government decided a few days ago.