Attraction of international students growing towards Germany

Germany is becoming a popular study destination for ambitious international students, standing alongside major study abroad destinations like the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. As a result, Germany has reached its goal of welcoming 350,000 international students in 2017, which the country had planned to achieve by 2020.

Today, Germany encompasses almost 400,000 international students across its higher education institutions, specifically 394,665 international students enrolled in the German higher education sector as of winter semester 2018/19.

More than half, 57 percent of international students in Germany, informed that Germany was their first choice of destination, and 20 percent informed it was their second choice, according to a 2016 survey recently reported by DAAD in Focus: Study Destination Germany – Motives and Experiences of International Students.

Germany was recently ranked first in a study that included 30 European study destinations. The performance was attributed to the country’s “remarkable mix of world-class education at no or almost no fees,” as well as the fact that Germany has made “a considerable improvement in the number of courses offered in English” and boasts the lowest unemployment rate for university graduates in Europe.

According to the DAAD report, Latin American students were the most likely to consider Germany a top destination, 71 percent, followed by students from the Asia-Pacific region, 63 percent, and then Sub-Saharan Africa, 60 percent. North Americans were the least likely with 49 percent.

Looking at individual sending markets, more than three-quarters of Indians, 78 percent, more than half of South Koreans, 62 percent, and Ukrainians, 58 preferred Germany above other destinations. Fewer than half of students from Syria, the US, Iran, Austria, and Turkey considered Germany a top choice.

Among the students who chose Germany above other destinations in 2016, 61 percent were enrolled in engineering, and 59percent in mathematics, and 59 percent in natural sciences.

In terms of study-specific motivations, students who came to Germany in 2016, 83 percent of all were motivated by an expectation that their programme will lead to good professional opportunities. Likewise, 76 percent considered Germany to offer a high quality of higher education, and 71 percent considered German universities to have a good reputation.

The availability of specialised training and education emerged as an important competitive strength for Germany, with 72 percent citing this factor as a motivation.

A smaller but significant proportion, 38 percent, informed that the ability to be taught in English influenced their decision to study in Germany.

More than half, 56 percent, of students came to Germany, interested in improving their German-language skills.

In terms of destination-related reasons, quality of life (63 percent), Germany’s reputation as a high-tech nation (58 percent), and the opportunity to work in Germany after graduation (57 percent) were the most important motivators.

Looking at regional variations, students from outside of Europe were more likely to be motivated by Germany’s reputation for offering a high quality of education and the availability of courses taught in English than students from Europe. For students from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Germany’s cultural aspects were particularly appealing. Sub-Saharan African students placed a high priority on personal connections with friends and families in Germany.

Germany has become an increasingly important player in international education in recent years. In 2016, the country overtook France in international student enrollments to become the fourth-largest host country of international students worldwide after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

The inflow of students in Germany is also growing from places like Iran, Cameroon, Tunisia, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Germany is simultaneously the world’s third-largest sending country of international students, after China and India.

Growing international student mobility is a global trend. In the two decades between 1998 and 2017, the number of international students enrolled in degree programs outside their home countries spiked from 1.95 million to 5.3 million worldwide. Within that context, Germany is part of a group of countries that include Australia, Canada, and China, all of which have absorbed ever-larger numbers of these mobile students—increasingly at the expense of the declining top destination country, the United States.