The figures reveal that the target set by DAAD and the Joint Scientific Conference of the federal government and states (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz) to host 350,000 international students by 2020 has now been exceeded by 7%, after having been surpassed in 2016.
“Germany is attracting more and more students and researchers from abroad. We can be proud of that and it should encourage us to become even better,” said Education minister Anja Karliczek.
“Germany is attracting more and more students and researchers from abroad”
She added that the results are a sign of the quality of the German education system and serve as a reminder that the almost 42,000 international graduates have a role to play in meeting the country’s skilled labour needs.
The statistical release looks at every aspect of internationalisation at German institutions, from inbound and outbound mobility to programs aimed at refugees and mobility schemes for trainee teachers.
It also includes data on students’ motivations to choose Germany.
Of the overall number, there were 282,000 international students who had completed their secondary education abroad (Bildungsausländer) and 92,600 students who had completed their secondary education in Germany but don’t have a German passport (Bildungsinländer).
The increase, DAAD noted, is entirely due to the rise in Bildungsausländer, who increased by 6% within one year, while Bildungsinländer decreased by 1%.
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Study.eu managing director Gerrit Bruno Blöss told The PIE News that the figures are in line with expectations.
“When Germany reached its 350,000 goal, the focus was meant to shift to increasing the quality of education especially in English-taught programs,” he said.
“We expect that foreign student numbers in Germany will grow further regardless of the shifted focus. There is also a demographic gap building up, meaning that spots now occupied by German students will free up in years to come.”
International students overall made up 13.2% of all students enrolled in higher education.
Although the overall ratio was slightly higher at universities (14.3%) than universities of applied science (11.2%), the increase of Bildungsausländer was more pronounced at universities of applied science (+10%) than universities (+5%).
Of these students, 91% intend to get a degree, while 9% are on temporary mobility programs – in universities, 40% are doing a master’s, while 62% of those at universities of applied sciences are enrolled in a bacherlor’s.
Overall, the proportion of Bildungsausländer in master’s programs has increased by 112% since 2012, compared to 44% for bachelor’s.
Asia and the Pacific remained the largest source region, accounting for 30% of international students in German HEIs, with Western Europe in second place at 19%.
The MENA region – in third position at 16% – saw a strong 34% growth since the previous statistical release, while the share of Sub Saharan Africa shrank by 20%.
The first source country remained China, with 37,000 students enrolled.
“India rose from 4th to 2nd in the ranking of countries of origin”
While China was already the top source in 2013, Julia Hillmann, part of the statistics department at DAAD, told The PIE that India is the one to watch for.
“While China was already the key country of origin in 2013, the number of students from India increased immensely: India rose from 4th to 2nd in the ranking of countries of origin – it ‘switched’ with Russia which is 4th in 2018,” she explained.
Study preferences depended slightly on the country of origin, with more than 50% of students from China and India, but also Syria, Cameroon and Iran, set on engineering.
Meanwhile, students from Austria, Russia, Ukraine and Italy most often chose Law, Economics and Social Sciences.
Looking at new enrolments, figures grouping the first-year students in the summer semester 2017 and the winter semester 2017/2018 found there were in total 104,940 newly enrolled students, 74,871 at university and 30,069 at universities of applied science.
The figures also signal a strong interest in private institutions – with international enrolments growing 18% from 2017, compared to 6% in public universities.
Data from uni assist, which processes international university applications, show that the three most common reasons for refusal are incomplete documentation (25%), insufficient language skills (17%) and the failure to meet deadlines (10%).
Around 26,600 Bildungsausländer were enrolled on a short-term basis, the number dropping 2% overall compared to the previous year – but only in universities, which registered a 3% decrease compared to the 4% increase at universities of applied science.
According to preliminary data from the German Federal Statistical Office, the number of international students in Germany in 2019 is 393,579 – a 5% increase on 2018 numbers.