Germany’s internationalisation agency DAAD has just published its equivalent of the US’ Open Doors report, titled Wissenschaft weltoffen. Like its predecessor editions, the publication funded by Germany’s Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research was produced by the country’s difficult-to-pronounce higher education research centre DZHW. The report contains a wealth of data on foreign students and staff in Germany and on German students abroad. The data refer to the year 2016, international data (for comparison) mostly to 2015.
In 2016, nearly 360,000 foreign degree-seeking students were enrolled at the country’s higher education institutions, up 5% from 2015 (global growth: 6%). Germany thus reached its foreign student target set for 2020 ahead of time. Germany is the fourth-most-chosen destination country, after the US, UK and Australia. However, not all these students were mobile for the purposes of study. 123,000 foreign nationals had gone to secondary school in the country, and thus already lived in Germany. Comparative rates for most other countries are not available, since Germany is amongst the few countries in the world which count Bildungausländer (truly inward-mobile students) and Bildungsinländer separately. However, foreign students more often drop out of studies before graduating than their German counterparts, thus artificially increasing the share of foreign students. It is not known if the same applies to other countries. In order to identify the reasons for the high drop-out rate, Germany has started a large-scale research project.
Numbers of German outbound credit-mobile students also grew, by about 3-fold since the start of the Bologna Process almost 20 years ago. The students in question studied mostly in programmes of the DAAD, Erasmus and the BAföG, Germany’s portable state loan and grant mechanism.
The numbers of foreign academic staff also rose since 2007, by over 80% to 46,000. The largest shares of single subject areas are in mathematics and engineering. Included in this number are also researchers at Germany’s extra-university research institutes, with the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft leading all other institutes. Most PhD graduates in Germany are from China (800), followed by Italians and Indians. The country has thus clearly opted against the advice of its former education minister Jürgen Rüttgers, who famously pleaded for a policy of ‘Kinder statt Inder’ (children instead of Indians).