Despite the current economic downturn and the rising unemployment levels, many EU Member States still struggle to fill skilled labour positions. There is evidence that this struggle is going to persist during the decade ahead for both economic and demographic reasons.
One of the problems is that the EU is not able to attract the workforce it needs while other countries worldwide are doing much better when it comes to making it more appealing for these talents to join them at the earlier stage of universities studies and research projects. It is therefore in the EU´s own interest to become more attractive for foreign students and researchers and to increase its appeal as a world centre for excellence. More exchange students and international scholars will lead to economic growth, spur innovation and lead to more jobs in the long run.
In 2011, around 220,000 non-EU nationals entered the EU for the purposes of studies, pupils exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service. The highest number of non-EU nationals arrived for the purpose of education and studies. In 2011, the countries which received the highest number of students were France (64,794), Spain (35,037), Italy (30,260), Germany (27,568) and the Netherlands (10,701).
The same year around 7 000 non-EU nationals arrived for purposes of research in the 24 EU Member States covered by the data; mostly in France (2,075), the Netherlands (1,616), Sweden (817), Finland (510) and Spain (447).