Germany is still highly desirable as a study location

Joint Press Release by DAAD and DZHW

The Federal Republic of Germany is one of the most popular countries in the world for international students: around 320,000 were registered at German higher education institutions in winter semester 2019/20. This puts Germany in fourth place ahead of France in the global ranking, directly below the traditional host countries – the USA, United Kingdom and Australia. International students are extremely interested in studying in Germany despite the corona pandemic; expectations are that the coming years will see recovery in the declining figures and an increase beyond previous levels.

Around 320,000 international students are attending a German higher education institution in winter semester 2019/2020. This is an increase of almost 18,000 students, or a 6% rise in comparison to the previous year. A now ten-year growth trend in the recognition of Germany as a high-quality and attractive study location is therefore continuing. The number of international students has grown by a total of 76% since 2010, as the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD) and the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung – DZHW) reveal in Edition 20 of their publication 'Wissenschaft Weltoffen 2020' (Research and Science Open to the World), which was released today. 

'The corona pandemic has altered international students' mobility patterns on a global basis. Survey data show that Germany has apparently been able to further improve its good reputation among international students thanks to good pandemic management during the first corona wave in spring and summer. This is a good starting point from which we can in future convince even more talented young people of the benefits of our education system and thus connect them to our country. All those involved should collectively grasp this opportunity', says DAAD President Professor Joybrato Mukherjee. 

The most significant countries of origin for international students in 2019 were China with around 40,000 students, followed by India (20,600), Syria (13,000), Austria (11,500) and Russia (10,500). Of these, 73% were registered at a university – around 220,000 international students – and almost 80,000 or 27% at a higher education institution for applied sciences (Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften – HAW). Although there are fewer international students attending a HAW, their number has been growing at an above-average rate for years. The number of international students there increased by 10% compared to last year. The DAAD 'HAW.International' programme has supported this development in a targeted manner for two years.  

Many German students also continue to be internationally mobile: the latest survey reveals that 140,000 of them are studying outside Germany. Good news: the number of those studying abroad has quadrupled since 1991 and more than doubled since 2000. Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are especially popular for study abroad. Around 66,000 German students were registered at higher education institutions in these three countries alone. Brexit may regrettably lead to a future decline in the numbers registering in the United Kingdom. 

Recovering from the corona kink 

International student mobility has also been massively impacted by the effects of the corona pandemic. A DAAD survey indicates that around 80,000 international students had temporarily departed from Germany. Many higher education institutions did however adhere to their exchange programmes despite the corona crisis: a national poll conducted by DAAD reveals that only 22% of higher education institutions reported having fully suspended their exchange programme in summer semester 2020. Interest in studying in Germany also remains high even in these times of the coronavirus: applications to the uni-assist association from international students for winter semester 2020/21 were running at almost 80% of those the year before. Many study courses paint an optimistic picture looking ahead to 2021: a majority predict significant recovery in international student mobility in the coming years – even if there were to be long-lasting restrictions due to the pandemic. 'Innovative teaching formats and concepts, which many higher education institutions are certainly developing, will more than ever be an important prerequisite for positive development in international mobility. They can add to Germany's attractiveness as a study location', stated Professor Monika Jungbauer-Gans, DZHW academic manager, in this context.

Germany is attracting more PhD students

Developments in the number of international doctoral candidates and the associated appreciation of the quality of the German science system on a global scale are also pleasing: around 27,100 of them were conducting research at German higher education institutions in 2019. This equates to a quarter of all doctoral candidates in Germany. The number has increased by almost 3% compared to the previous year, indeed by 52% in the last ten years. So the number of international doctoral candidates has grown faster than that for German doctoral candidates.


Infographics Wissenschaft weltoffen 2020

You may use these printable infographics for free in connection with the press release.

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DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service