Germany is increasingly being sought as a destination by international students and academics, says a recent report that also shows that the number of German students going abroad remains at a high level.

International students helped to boost German

According to a report in Handelsblatt Global, some of the main attractions for students to Germany are its low tuition fees and the fact that 1,500 of its 10,000 masters degree programmes are available in English. But nevertheless they also boost German as a language. Deike Werner who works in the HTW university as language teacher for foreign students confirms: “It is fascinating to see that people from all over the world come here to Berlin to study and learn our complicated language”.

“With more than 350,000 international students enrolled, we have reached the goal agreed with the federal German states earlier than expected,” said Federal Education and Research Minister Anja Karliczek, presenting the report Wissenschaft weltoffen 2018. Karliczek put Germany’s popularity down to it maintaining a high level of academic freedom and investing in higher education paying its way. She also referred to good international links and a “cosmopolitan attitude in the best sense that defies current isolationist tendencies elsewhere”.

Germany now ranks fifth for the number of international students enrolled

The report, compiled by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung or DZHW), shows that the number of international students at German universities rose by 5% to 359,000 in 2017, already surpassing the 350,000 mark set for 2020.

Germany also continues to be increasingly attractive for international scientists and scholars. Since 2007, their numbers have grown by 84%. In 2016, a total of 46,000 international researchers were working at German universities, up by 6% on 2015. “We mustn’t let up in showing young people how valuable staying abroad is,” said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel, commenting on the continuing popularity of visiting universities in other countries. “We are sticking to our goal of half of all German graduates having been abroad.”

Most foreign students study maths and sciences

DAAD is running a number of campaigns to support international exchange, such as “Study in Germany – Land of Ideas”, addressing students and junior scientists and scholars, or “GATE Germany”, which supports German universities in positioning themselves abroad. Commenting on the details of the report, DZHW’s Scientific Director, Monika Jungbauer-Gans, said that most of the international academics were working in mathematics and the engineering sciences. China had taken the lead in doctorates, with almost 800 doctoral students having graduated in 2017, followed by India and Italy at 300 each. And in terms of institutions, the Max Planck Society, conducting research in the natural sciences, life sciences and humanities, had the largest share of international academic staff, with 46%.