Record numbers of international exchange students - Germany 3rd in global ranking

Wissenschaft weltoffen 2023

Around 370,000 international exchange students attended German universities in the last winter semester, a new record. Germany has thus overtaken Australia in the list of most popular countries for students, and now holds third place in the global rankings, according to the new edition of ‘Wissenschaft weltoffen’.

‘Germany continues to be highly attractive for international students and researchers. This is very good news for Germany as a science location and in view of the shortage of skilled workers. As the Federal Ministry of Education, we have long supported this trend. For example, with student marketing formats such as My GUIDE, we bring international students to German universities in a way that fits them perfectly. There, together with the DAAD, we are strengthening internationalisation. Another good example is the HAW.International programme, which has helped universities of applied sciences to significantly increase the number of international students," said Federal Minister of Education Bettina Stark-Watzinger.’ said Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger. 

“German universities and research institutions continue to enjoy great popularity. The high quality of their academic education, freedom from tuition fees, and good career opportunities for graduates in Germany’s labour market have been key factors in Germany’s rise to become one of the three most popular countries for study. German higher education institutions are therefore demonstrably extremely attractive to international exchange students and doctoral candidates, which in turn is a huge lever with which to counteract the drastic shortage of skilled workers in the academic sector,” said DAAD President Prof Dr Joybrato Mukherjee.

“International mobility for academics and researchers is of the utmost importance to the success of research activities,’ said Professor Monika Jungbauer-Gans, Scientific Director of the DZHW. It’s no accident that now almost a third – 29% – of the academic staff at institutes of the major research institutions such as the Max Planck Society and the Leibniz Association come from abroad. The figure for higher education institutions stands at 14%, although this varies widely between different subject disciplines. For instance, the proportion of international teachers and researchers in mathematics and natural sciences is very high, at over one-fifth,” Prof Jungbauer-Gans added.


Around 367,578 international exchange students attended German universities in the 2022/23 winter semester. Compared to last year, this was a clear rise of 5%, as reported in ‘Wissenschaft weltoffen 2023’, which will be published this Wednesday by the DAAD and the Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung. The annual publication is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

In terms of the number of international first-year exchange students, Germany returned to pre-pandemic levels for the first time, reaching 80,000 students.  For the first time, India ranks first among countries of origin, coming ahead of China, with around 42,600 students. The number of Ukrainian students at German higher education institutions has also risen strongly, jumping 43% within a year to reach 9,100.

Germany’s popularity also continues to rise among international academics and researchers. There are 70,000 international academics working and conducting research in Germany’s higher education and research institutions. This puts Germany alongside the United Kingdom as the most important location for international academics and scientists outside the USA.

Germany is also an attractive location for international exchange students who have completed their studies. According to the latest OECD analysis which was prepared for ‘Wissenschaft weltoffen’, of the 16 OECD countries included in the analysis, only Canada (44%) has a comparable rate of international exchange students still living and working in the country ten years after completing their studies when compared to Germany (45%). 


DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service