Germany tops 300,000 international students

30 July, 2015

Germany hosted over 300,000 international students at its higher education institutions for the first time in 2014, according to the annual report released by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Bildungsauslaender international students in Germany in 2014 by region of origin. Source - Wissenschaft Weltoffen 2015, DAAD

The total of 301,350 students recorded in DAAD’s Wissenschaft Weltoffen 2015 report represents a seven per cent rise and an additional 19,000 students compared with 2013.

In the research, conducted in partnership with the German Centre for Higher Education and Scientific Research (DZHW), DAAD 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.

In 2014, there were 218,848 Bildungsauslaender international students, and 82,502 Bildungsinlaender, with both groups increasing by around six per cent over the previous year.

Based on preliminary data from the German Federal Statistics Office, DAAD estimates there will be 319,283 international students in 2015, meaning the country appears to be comfortably on target to achieve its goal of 350,000 students by 2020.

China remained the largest source country for Bildungsauslaender in 2014 with 28,381 students, an increase of almost 3,000 compared with the previous year. Russia stayed at second with 11,126 – a slight rise – while India jumped by 29 per cent to become the third largest source for the first time, with 9,372 students.

The source country with the largest increase between 2012 and 2014, according to the DAAD data, is UAE (120.4 per cent), followed by Bangladesh (107.1) and Saudi Arabia (72.5).

European countries accounted for 47 per cent of all Bildungsauslaender (102,355 students), while Asia represented 37 per cent, fuelled by an 11 per cent rise in 2014. All world regions have increased over the last two years. 

There has been a significant increase in Bildungsauslaender at postgraduate level over the past five years, more than doubling from 30,675 to 61,931 and rising 16 per cent in the last year alone. The postgraduate growth is largely driven by the master’s sector: almost one third of Bildungsauslaender at universities were studying at this level in 2014.

The 301,350 international students last year represented 11.5 per cent of the higher education student body in Germany, a slight increase compared with 11.3 per cent in the previous year. However, the number of international first-year students reached 102,480 in 2014 – a new record high – and represented 20 per cent of all first-year students.

Nordrhein-Westfalen was the largest host state in terms of international student numbers, with 77,072 enrolled, while Berlin had the highest ratio of overseas scholars at 16.7 per cent.

While public higher education in Germany is virtually free for all students, regardless of nationality, German language schools reported in StudyTravel Magazine’s Market Analysis Germany feature that there is increasing interest from international students in pathway and academic preparation programmes for higher education.

A special feature in the September issue of StudyTravel Magazine will examine growth in non-English pathway programmes in Europe, with analysis from schools and agents.

Matthew Knott
News Editor



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