Number of foreign students in Poland grows

Jacek Turczyk/PAP

The number of foreign students in Poland grew in 2022 by 5.6 percent on the previous year to almost 89,500, a new report has revealed.

The 'Foreign students in Poland 2022' report, compiled by the 'Perspektywy' Educational Foundation, said that foreign students accounted for 7.3 percent of all students in Poland last year.

The report was based on data from the Central Statistical Office (GUS) for the 2021-22 academic year, the POL-on Integrated System of Information on Science and Higher Education, the foundation's own research and data from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), UNESCO and Project Atlas, a global research initiative that provides student mobility data.

"In the 2021/22 academic year, 89,420 foreign students from 180 countries were studying in Poland, or 4,731 more than a year earlier (growth of 5.6 percent)," the report said. "Foreign students currently account for 7.34 percent of all students in our country."

The report added that 13 years ago, this figure was only 0.82 percent and in the 2016/17 academic year 4.88 percent. The growth trend has been maintained since 2005.

For years, the most numerous nationality of foreign students in Poland has been Ukrainian, though their number has started to decline, having peaked in the 2018/19 academic year at 39,203, the foundation reported.

Bianka Siwinska, president of the Perspektywy Educational Foundation, attributed this decline to demographic factors as Ukraine, like Poland, is experiencing a fall in the number of people in the 17-25-year age bracket. The impact of the war in Ukraine is also significant, she said, though it was not entirely negative as some young people had come to Poland who would earlier have gone to Russia, a figure she put at around 7,000.

The number of African students is growing, according to the report, though in percentage terms the number of foreign students in Poland is lower than in the most developed OECD countries, including China.

Siwinska said the most important limiting factor on foreign student numbers is visa policy.

"For several years we could have had 8,000-10,000 students from India, but the consular service has effectively blocked that," she explained.

The report concluded that the growth trend can be expected to continue in the coming years.