Germany is not only the top destination for international students in the country, but the majority of those also plan on remaining in the country once they finish their studies. The future plans of international students in Germany are among the main findings from a survey conducted by Expatrio and the Deutsche Gesellschaft Internationaler Studierender (DEGIS) at the end of last year. The survey, answered by almost 2,000 respondents from over 90 nationalities, gathered insights into students' relocation experiences in the country.
If you are an international student in Germany and also plan to stay in the country after your graduation, you are not alone. Fifty-seven percent of respondents wish to remain in Germany when concluding their studies. However, not all of those share the same plans. For most of them (38%), the next step after graduation is to look for job opportunities. Others plan on pursuing further education (15%) and starting their own business in the country (4%).
Even though this outlook is positive for the German economy, which will benefit from the entrance of highly skilled workers, the number is 10% lower compared to the same survey conducted in 2020. A possible factor for such a decrease could be that workers have access to more remote job positions globally, resulting in the job market being more competitive. Another survey highlight regarding those planning to stay in Germany was the 3% increase in survey respondents who plan to pursue further education there. This number shows that the international student community is more willing to further invest in their education in Germany.
Apart from those who want to remain in the country, another key insight from the survey is that 12% of international students plan to look for job opportunities in countries other than Germany. This number represented a 50% increase when compared to 2020.
What are the main challenges after graduation for internationals?
Living abroad does not come without challenges, and even though making friends amidst the pandemic became one of the top three difficulties for international students in Germany, for almost half (47%) of respondents, the language barrier is the main obstacle to living in the country. This issue was followed by high living expenses (13%), homesickness (11%), and cultural differences (9%).
The wish to return to one's home country also shifted 10% between 2020 and 2021. In 2020, 56% of survey respondents said “yes” when we asked if they ever wished to go back to their home country. While in 2021, 46% said they thought about returning to their homeland.
However, this percentage drastically changes if analyzed based on respondents’ nationalities. Seventy percent of Chinese international students said they wanted to go back to their home country. Other high-ranking nationalities in this query were Pakistani (61%) and Taiwanese (55%). In contrast, the Turkish (28%), Nepalese (31%), and Ghanaian (38%) had the least share of those who mentioned wanting to return home. Among the reasons mentioned for leaving the country, homesickness (31%) was the most common answer, followed by the language barrier (22%) and cultural differences (16%).
Our survey shows that international students’ plan to remain in Germany is well aligned with the shortage of highly skilled workers in the country. The number of vacancies rose to a record high of 558,000 in March this year. Internationals with higher education could potentially decrease such a gap.
Are you interested in knowing more about the experiences of international students relocating to Germany? Download our survey!