Globe, international

Wissenschaft weltoffen 2019

Consolidating trend towards the internationalization of the German higher education landscape 

Every year, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) publishes a study entitled Wissenschaft weltoffen, which covers the current state of internationalization at German universities and updates the database on the subject. The information provided by Wissenschaft weltoffen plays a significant role in informing the international education market about the newest trends and statistics. Thus, the study allows universities and other industry players to improve the quality of the educational services provided, as well as to adjust the offer to the demand which actually exists on the market.

The following review aims to investigate this important topic a bit further by providing an overview of the study, and explaining some nuances which require further clarification and research. The review is carried out using complex scientific methodology and a solid database provided by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt).

Main facts and figures

According to the study, Germany is now the most attractive non-English-speaking country for international students, replacing France in this position. With 374,580 international students in 2018, Germany ranks in the fourth position after the US, the UK and Australia. In terms of scientists’ international mobility, Germany is well behind the US, accounting for 27% worldwide. However, Germany is still 8% ahead of China, France, and Canada on this matter.

Speaking of the origins of international students abroad, the definite leadership belongs to the Asia-Pacific region, as 40% of the international university students worldwide come from this area. Quite unsurprisingly, the statistics for Germany mirror the general trend, as Asia-Pacific is also the most important region of origin of international students in Germany. The representatives of Asia-Pacific make up 30% of all the international students in Germany, being followed by West Europe which accounts for 19% of students. 

In terms of proportion of inbound to outbound students, Germany ranks in the midfield with countries such as South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Spain. Students from China continue to form the largest group of international students in Germany with over 30,000 people, corresponding to a total share of 12% of all international students. India and Russia follow with about 11,500 students each, which corresponds to 4.9%. 

In 2013, the German Joint Science Conference (GWK) and the DAAD defined a goal to increase the number of foreign students to 350,000 by 2020. This target was actually exceeded much earlier than expected, as in the 2016/17 winter semester there were already 358,895 international students in Germany. And it is worth mentioning that this trend keeps up reaching 374,580 students in 2018. 

Market challenges and solutions

Despite significant achievements in the educational area, Germany, like many other countries, is facing a global competition for young talents, especially for specialists in the digital sector, as observed in a recent study by the branch association Bitkom. One major issue that can hinder the migration of international professionals to the country is bureaucracy, which still plays a significant role in the German social structure.

Although the interest of international students in German universities seems to be continuously increasing, it is important to highlight that they still face several challenges when moving to Germany. Providing a service that eases up the relocation process, and supports students, preparing them for their visa application and university enrollment is Expatrio’s main driver. We are proud to have been successfully contributing to the process of making German higher education institutions more accessible for students worldwide.

We believe that there is still improvement to be made so the relocation process is smoother for non-European students. Therefore, we work actively on providing an integrated platform in order to allow students to arrange all the documents they need before even leaving their home country. In that sense, the DAAD’s Wissenschaft weltoffen study is a central source for Expatrio to identify current trends and to be up-to-date with the general tendencies, allowing us to offer our clients solutions tailored to their needs.

Alex Ruthemeier
Co-Founder of Expatrio Global Services

Check the full study here.