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Germany – More international students, fewer international first-year students

According to the snapshot survey published by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the total number of international students in Germany rose from approximately 319,000 students in the winter semester 2019/20 to approximately 330,000 students in the current winter semester, an increase of around 3%. However, there is a slight decrease of around 1% in the number of first-semester students. 161 higher education institutions (HEIs) took part in this survey, accounting for around 60% of all international students in Germany. The DAAD used these responses as the basis for projections for all German HEIs and concluded that Germany remains an attractive destination for international students. 

The reason why there was an increase in the total number of international students in Germany is probably because fewer international students left their studies in Germany than in the previous years. This may have been caused by the delays in the course of the study due to the pandemic. 

In addition, there was a significant increase in the number of first-year degree-seeking students in the winter semester 2020/21 with a total of around 67.000 students - 17% more than in the previous year. However, there was a significant decline in the number of newly enrolled guest or exchange students by almost 12,000 students or 54% less that in the previous winter semester.  

German universities have adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions by moving to digital distance learning during the semester when needed. Despite remote learning and mobility restrictions caused by the pandemic, around 40% of the higher education institutions surveyed estimated that almost all of their international first-year students (between 90 and 100%) are now on-site.  

DAAD snapshot survey