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Germany surpasses international student target three years early

Germany has surpassed its long-term goal of hosting 350,000 international students by 2020 three years early, with the latest statistics from German academic exchange service DAAD revealing that international student numbers for the 2016 academic year reached 358,895.

The total number of international students in Germany as of the 2016/2017 winter semester rose from 340,305 to 358,895. Photo: Michael Jordan"German education has an excellent international reputation and our colleges are very attractive to students from all over the world." Photo: Michael Jordan/DAAD

Germany’s combination of high-quality education with near-zero tuition fees make it a "no-brainer" for many international students

According to the findings, the total number of international students in Germany as of the 2016/2017 winter semester increased 5.5%, up from 340,305 on the previous period.

Germany has also reported a new all-time record high of university students (including domestic) at 2.85 million in the current winter semester. Provisional results from Destatis show the number of students at German HEIs amounts to 2,847,800, an increase of 40,800 (+1.5%) when compared with the winter semester 2016/2017.

Addressing the statistics, DAAD president Margret Wintermantel said the numbers highlight how well Germany is positioned in the race to attract top international students.

“There is currently tough global competition for the brightest minds. All major educational and research locations around the world are trying to attract as many well-qualified young people as possible,” she said.

“The numbers show that Germany is very well positioned here. German education has an excellent international reputation and our colleges are very attractive to students from all over the world.”

“It was expected for a while now that the goal would be reached early”

However, the early achievement is of little surprise to many key figures in Germany’s booming education sector.

Study EU managing director Gerrit Bruno Blöss told The PIE News that Germany’s combination of high-quality education with near-zero tuition fees make it a “no-brainer” for many international students, particularly with a growing number of English-taught programs.

He said that DAAD will likely have to update its aims because enrolment from domestic students is slowing down.

“It was expected for a while now that the goal would be reached early,” he said.

“While Germany just reported a new all-time record high of university students at 2.85 million, the number of freshmen has decreased slightly and is expected to decrease further in the coming years.

“At the same time, the number of German students going abroad on student exchanges or for full programs of study is expected to increase.

“It follows that more international students will need to be attracted to use existing capacities. We expect that German universities will increase their offering of English-taught programs in the coming years to better accommodate international students.”

“German universities will increase their offering of English-taught programs in the coming years to better accommodate international students”

One university that is highly aware of the importance of international students in Göttingen University, which received the “Institutional Award for Innovation in Internationalisation” from the EAIE in 2015.

The university currently maintains more than 875 research and teaching cooperations worldwide, with 13% of its students coming from abroad.

Speaking to The PIE News, Prof. Hiltraud Casper-Hehne, vice-president for international affairs at Göttingen University said the institution welcomed it 4000th international student earlier this year.

“The number of international students at Göttingen University has been increasing steadily over the past years – from around 2,700 students in 2009 to almost 4,050 in 2017,” she said.

She said the institution’s Internationalisation Strategy is aimed at providing ideal conditions for the best students and researchers from all over the world to work and study in Göttingen.

“The excellent research environment of the Göttingen Campus, a broad range of international study programs and the culture of welcome in the town of Göttingen and all of southern Lower Saxony are important factors when it comes to keeping Göttingen University attractive for international scholars.

“Students will be optimally prepared for their future tasks and responsibilities in a globalised world by means of internationally aligned teaching, collaborative work with international students and challenging academic fellowships abroad,” Casper-Hehne added.

President of the University of Bayreuth Prof. Stefan Leible said his institution was experiencing similar growth. The University of Bayreuth currently has 1349 foreign students, 25.87% of which are from China.

“German education has an excellent international reputation and our colleges are very attractive to students from all over the world”

“The proportion of international students has increased from 7% to approximately 10% within one year. We are extremely pleased with this development,” Leible said.

“It affects much more than just the international character of the research and teaching on our campus; It also sends a strong signal to society.

“There is no room for nationalism and isolationist tendencies in science – rather, science flourishes when we succeed in breaking down boundaries. This is thus an important step in the right direction for universities and society as a whole.”

To support the country’s growth strategy, DAAD has two ongoing campaigns, ‘Study in Germany – Land of Ideas’ and ‘Research in Germany – Land of Ideas’, to promote Germany as a study destination.

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