Record high of overseas students in Germany

17 July, 2014


Germany had a record 282,201 international students at university level in 2013, according to data released this week by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), with further increases expected next year.


The source regions of International Bildungsauslaender students in Germany in 2013. Source – DAAD, Wissenschaft Weltoffen 2014

The Wissenschaft Weltoffen 2014 report, produced by DAAD in association with German Centre for Higher Education and Scientific Research (DZHW), divides international students into two categories: Bildungsinlaender, students who gain higher education entrance qualifications in Germany; and Bildungsauslaender, who obtain entrance qualifications outside of Germany.

Both groups increased in 2013 compared with the previous year, with Bildungsauslaender rising by six per cent (11,791 students) to reach 204,644, and Bildungsinlaender increasing by seven per cent (5,118 students) to total 77,557. The former represented 8.2 per cent of all higher education students in Germany in 2013, while the latter made up 3.1 per cent.

DAAD President, Margret Wintermantel, welcomed the report, and said, “The international attractiveness of a higher education and research location is measured by how many foreign students are attracted to the country.”

In terms of institutional type, 204,221 international students were at universities, while the remaining 77,980 were studying at universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen).

Based on provisional data, DAAD estimates a figure of 300,909 international students in 2014. The current rate of growth would suggest Germany is on course to reach DAAD’s target of 350,000 students by 2020, as outlined in Study Travel Magazine’s recent cover story on global trends in higher education.

Domestic enrolment at German higher education institutions has increased by around 500,000 over the last decade, meaning the proportion of international students within the total number of students remains relatively stable at 11.3 per cent. However, in 2013 one in five first-year higher education students were from overseas, suggesting the ratio is set to increase over coming years.

Europe is the largest source region for international students in Germany, providing 94,742 Bildungsauslaender students – 46.4 per cent of the total, with a nine per cent increase from Western Europe last year. Asia is the second largest source region with 72,483 Bildungsauslaender, 35.4 per cent of the total, an increase of nine per cent and a new peak for the region.

China remains the top individual source country for Bildungsauslaender students with 25,564 students in 2013, an increase of almost 2,000 over the previous year. Russia (10,912 students) and Austria (8,655) retained second and third place respectively, but a 20.8 per cent increase in students from India saw the country rise to fourth, followed by Bulgaria in fifth.

The largest increase in Bildungsauslaender was recorded by Bangladesh, with a jump of 29.3 per cent, while there were also substantial increases from Brazil (17.8 per cent), Egypt (17.6), Iran (16.2) and Pakistan (15.3).

There was noticeable growth in Bildungsauslaender international students at postgraduate level in 2013, with the number increasing 17 per cent at universities, compared with the previous year, and nine per cent at universities of applied sciences.

Engineering was the most popular subject field for Bildungsauslaender, studied by 52,546 international students  – 25.7 per cent of the total – followed by Law, Economics and Social Sciences (50,679 students) and Language and Cultural Studies and Sports (37,968).

“Germany is more popular than ever for foreign students,” said German Education Minister, Johanna Wanka, who welcomed the benefits of international student mobility. “For researchers or students to spend some time abroad and work at universities with foreign fellow students and teachers today is a matter of course. Excellent science needs international exchange. Such strategies require cosmopolitan universities where the academic and administrative staff give students a warm welcome.”

Study Travel Magazine’s most recent market analysis feature on German language schools highlighted that increasing numbers of international students were coming to study academic preparation programme for university study in the country.

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