Future Trends in Student Mobility – Focus on Spain 

Future Trends in Student Mobility – Focus on Spain 

Over the last ten years and before the pandemic, the number of international students who chose Spain as their destination for higher education studies had been steadily growing. According to the Spanish Ministries of Science, Research, and Universities, it accounted for 9.46% of the total number of higher education students in 2019/20. This is an increase of more than 2% from 2015/16, although numbers obviously decreased in 2020.  What does the future hold for our post-pandemic, COVID-endemic world?

The primary groups that compose this cohort of international students are multi-fold: 1) study abroad students from the U.S., 2) Erasmus + students, 3) those that take Spanish classes at language schools, 4) Instituto Cervantes students and test candidates, 5) degree-seeking students at Spanish universities, and 6) those that come for their master’s degree.

The report, “The Economic Impact of International Students in Spain,” clarifies that these groups have had surprisingly very different impacts on the economy of Spain. The study conducted by the consultant group Spain Education Programs (SEP) reported that, for the academic year 2018-19, graduate and degree-seeking undergraduate students had the largest economic impact, as “they accounted for 65% of the overall economic impact from the export of education.” This is far from obvious, as these two groups represent only a 15% of all international students. Although Instituto Cervantes (IC) and language school students are more numerous, their economic impact is much smaller and even negative in the case of IC, as it is a subsidized program. However, as the report effectively argues, it is crucial to value not only the economic revenue but “the constructive social outcomes that derive from the presence of these international students.”

Erasmus students are a clear example of this consideration. Spain has been the number one Erasmus destination since 2001 and, although its economic impact is the second lowest after IC’s, the benefits derived from having such large numbers of international students in Spanish universities are great. Plus, it is a two-fold advantage, as the Erasmus program also allows many Spanish students to study abroad.

Higher education institutions report an optimistic situation for 2022-23, although data from the Spanish Ministries is not yet available. Enrollment will likely return to those present before the pandemic. The most likely trends for the future include study abroad programs shifting from a curriculum designed for Spanish majors and minors to a blend of courses in English and Spanish that cater to STEM, health sciences, business, or education students. Another likely trend is for Spanish universities, both public and private, to continue to present a robust offering of undergraduate courses in English. These are designed to attract not only Erasmus students but also increasing numbers of students from the Americas and Asia. A clear indication of this trend is the promising search engine “Spain College Degrees” to be presented this summer at the AATSP (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese) in Salamanca. This website, offered to students and universities free of charge, will allow international students to search and identify all Spanish universities with degrees that have at least 50% of their courses offered in English. This initiative is just one indication of the commitment at many levels in Spain to sustain international student engagement as a national priority.

For additional information:  Grasset, C. and Garcia, B., “The Economic Impact of International Students in Spain” (2020), retrieved April 2023, from

This blog is brought to you by the generous support of Study Group

About the author: Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years and was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid. Rosa served as instructor and senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain for many years and currently works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and U.S. higher education institutions.

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Episode 29: Cultural Lens on U.S. Higher Education: Analyzing International Perceptions of 'Anti-Woke’ Discourse

Dive into a nuanced exploration of the global discourse surrounding higher education in the United States. Join us for a panel discussion with esteemed international educators as we embark on a journey through the lenses of culture and international perspective, examining how global audiences interpret and engage with the ‘anti-woke’ discourse within the context of U.S. higher education. This engaging panel discussion will delve into the intersections of culture, ideology, and education, and the complex landscape of how international audiences perceive the ‘anti-woke’ narrative that has emerged within U.S. academia.

Whether you’re a senior international officer, or simply curious about the diverse viewpoints shaping U.S. higher education, this podcast episode will provide an invaluable space for critical analysis and insightful conversations.

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Date: September 14th, 2023
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– Global Risk Management
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Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

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Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.

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