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German coalition treaty aims for 350,000 foreign students by 2020

After three months of negotiations, a coalition agreement between Germany’s biggest political parties has been reached. Among objectives to freeze taxes and lower the retirement age, the new government aims to increase international students studying in Germany to 350,000 by 2020 and increase outbound mobility to 50% of all higher education students.

The government wants to see one in every two German students go abroad

In the 185-page agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) the government says: “By the end of the decade we will see to it that the number of foreign students is increased by about a third, to about 350,000.”

The goals reflect The German Academic Exchange Service’s (DAAD) Strategy 2020 released in February of this year that intends to increase inbound and outbound mobility in Germany’s higher education institutions.

“The number of international students is set to increase by 2020 and we want our market share of international students to remain stable”

Mobility to Germany has risen from 140,000 international students in 1995-1996 to 280,000 in 2012-2013 resulting in a 6% market share of all international students globally.

Stephen Geifes, Head of DAAD’s Division of Higher Education Projects abroad says the 350,000 student goal follows the projected growth of student mobility over the next seven years.

“The number of international students is set to increase by 2020 and we want our market share of international students to remain stable, that is 6% of the estimated international students in 2020,” he told The PIE News.

The coalition government says that it wants to exploit the networks already established by DAAD to maintain its place in the market.

“It’s a policy mix of how to get more students to Germany. It’s a question of marketing, it’s a question of welcome structure, it’s a question of attractiveness, and language access,” said Geifes.

“We will continue to increase the number of English taught courses as we have over the last 10 years because it’s more attractive to foreign students to come and to study directly in English and learn German on the side,” he added.

Marketing will be done worldwide but mostly targeting Master and graduate students in countries that don’t already have a large student population in Germany.

The government will also support DAAD’s efforts to increase the number of German students enrolled at higher education institutions abroad. Currently about one third of domestic students study abroad. The government wants to see the proportion rise to one in every two students by 2020.

Geifes says the organisation will focus on encouraging students to go for semesters, language courses and internships abroad.

“We will continue to increase the number of English taught courses as we have over the last 10 years”

“We think it’s important to have a significant amount of students enrolled in higher education be internationally socialised,” he commented. “It will certainly be with an increase in short-term stays, but at least they will have been abroad, that’s what’s important.”

Further negotiations will be needed to determine how DAAD’s current budget of €400 million will be augmented in order to reach the goals but Geifes adds that the new Erasmus + programme will help expand outbound mobility.

“The  most important point is that the government at least for the next four years subscribes to this view,” he said.

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