POLAND: Universities least popular with Europeans

Poland ranks first in Europe in terms of access to higher education but Polish universitie are among the least popular with foreign students, says a study carried out by analysts with the Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal, a Brussels-based think tank.

"Studying and entering Polish universities is the easiest in Europe among all the countries we analysed", said an official representative of the council

Despite their accessibility, Polish universities currently occupy one of the last places in terms of popularity among foreign students. Researchers say this could be explained by the fact that graduates of the universities usually do not enjoy strong demand from domestic or foreign employers.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Polish higher education is the disparity of its courses compared with the European labour market," says Professor Jerzy Vozhnitski, head of the Council of Rectors of Polish Universities.

"That is why every year more and more young Poles leave Poland, preferring to study abroad and in particular in the UK."

According to the British Higher Education Statistics Agency, in 2007-2008, about 6,770 Poles studied in British universities while a year earlier the number was 4,325. Another 14,000 young people from Poland prefer to study in Germany.

Half of the graduates of the Polish secondary schools last year chose to study abroad, the analysts said.

* Eugene Vorotnikov is a Moscow-based education journalist