Germany has seen its Indian student numbers “explode” over recent years, ambassador Philipp Ackerman said during a panel at the Acumen Global Gateway Summit on April 20.
“[Germany is] the new kid on the block because this number has exploded over the last couple of years and we have now 35,000 Indian students in Germany,” he said.
The 2023 Wissenschaft weltoffen, released in March, revealed that the European country was hosting a total of 33,753 Indian students, making up 9.7% of the 349,438 total international cohort in 2021/22.
China remains the top source country for international students, with some 40,055 students enrolling across Germany’s higher education ecosystem.
“What is more is that the German embassy has 25,000 new applications [from Indians] for the next two semesters on its table,” the ambassador continued.
“There is a huge interest in the Indian youth to come to Germany,” he said, noting that free education and English-medium programs – that offer both academic and practical options – add to the attraction.
“We don’t do recruitment. There is no publicity done by German institutions, mostly due to the fact that German universities are state run and owned. There is no business interests there.”
But, he explained, the embassy is overwhelmed with application numbers, and fraud is slowing down processing.
“We are overwhelmed by the number of applications. To process 25,000 applications in a year is tough for us. So we feel also a certain frustration that our proceedings – because we have to get to an academic assessment – and unfortunately, we have about 5 to 10% fraudulent applications and we have to get them out of the basket.
“It’s not much, but we have to do that and therefore the proceedings are taking some time.”
It’s not the first time visa applications have caused issues. In 2020, stakeholders warned that visa waiting times were “discouraging and demotivating” with students in India, Morocco and Cameroon waiting for up to one year for visas.
“German universities are super happy with Indian students”
It is not clear whether the large numbers of applications in India will be as problematic this year. Ambassador Ackerman also spoke of the “win-win situation” for Indian students and German society as a whole for hosting international students from India.
“German universities are super happy with Indian students. Their experience with Indian students is extremely positive. Therefore Indian applications are considered to be very valuable and accepted very easily… You have 12 months to look for a job [after graduation], and I will tell you that in six weeks every Indian student gets a job in Germany,” he said.
“What we want is Indian students coming to Germany and then also staying. We feel that when we offer to give them education, it plays out for us when they go into the workforce…
“Basically this is a win-win situation for both sides – for us and Indian students who stay on in Germany, working in Germany is a big relief in a context where we have a shortage of people.”