Focus efforts on attracting students from careers in which Costa Rica is an international benchmark, doctoral students and teaching or administrative staff, and the development of joint titling programs could open the doors to Costa Rican universities to boost the export of their services to Spain. This recommendation is part of the conclusions of the study “Opportunities for the Export of Educational Services to Spain”, developed by the Promoter of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica (PROCOMER).

The study carried out by PROCOMER details that Costa Rica could consider as a public target for its educational services students of Autonomous Communities with lower English penetration, with high costs of living and studies, whose governments offer help for international mobility.

In the same way, it should be aimed at students of careers whose exercise is in Spanish (for example education, social work), careers in areas of knowledge in which Costa Rica is an international reference (for example sustainability, environmental law, veterinary), careers in areas of knowledge in which Costa Rica can offer a differentiating factor (for example agriculture, commerce, biomedicine) or, careers with a high admission grade and a high-cost private education (medicine).

Spanish students taking a standardized test

Spanish students are characterized by the desire for academic mobility as a complement to their professional training so that Spain is the main issuer of Erasmus + students, a program that provides opportunities for cross-border cooperation and that includes, among other actions, the mobility of people for learning reasons.

According to Marta Esquivel, Director of Commercial Intelligence of PROCOMER, this type of study allows us to find opportunities for the education sector but also helps us to identify the barriers that hinder the export of educational services. In the case of Spain, we find that we are considered a destination with a high cost of living and that, in addition, there is ignorance about the value of our educational offer for students interested in mobility.

“The conclusions that result from our market studies are tools for the decision making of the sector and of the Promoter, in this case, it makes us see that it is necessary to promote the services, as well as to increase the projection of the country, to gradually gain more ground in the European market”, added Esquivel.

The experience with Spanish students of Erasmus + and other similar programs has highlighted as determinant factors for the selection of a study destination the language (mainly English) and the availability of financing options, reason, why Costa Rica has not yet. It is considered a country of common choice, when sharing the language with Spain and not being considered a priority country in the granting of aid by the European Union.

In addition to the opportunities already mentioned, the study suggests the accompaniment of a strategy that contemplates:

  • Work on the student’s experience.
  • Expand the offer of programs in English.
  • Identify the mobility windows in the study plans and adjust to the reality of the Spanish educational system.
  • Design a communication strategy that highlights the country’s strengths as a reference in strategic areas.
  • Increase participation in networks, educational consortiums, conferences, fairs, among others.
  • Consider the trends of the educational sector at the international level.