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Germany: Slightly more popular among international students

Approximately 5 500 more foreign students were enrolled at German higher education institutions in academic year 2008/09 compared to the previous year, according to the newly released 2010 edition of Wissenschaft weltoffen. While this is the first increase in three years, the growth (at just 2%) is marginal in relative terms. The total foreign enrolment in Germany, while high at 239 000, is still below the 2006/07 level (246 000). Meanwhile, foreign enrolment has increased at a slower pace than overall student enrolment in Germany, meaning that foreign students as a proportion of all students at German HEI’s has actually decreased from 12.1 percent (2007/08) to 11.8 percent (2008/09). This proportion is nevertheless very high in a cross-country comparison; Germany keeps its third-place position after the US and the UK as a favourite destination of mobile students world-wide.

Sending country/region trends have remained unchanged. Half of all foreign students (Bildungsausländer) in Germany are citizens of another European country, while the proportion of students coming from Eastern Europe continues to drop. From outside of Europe, China is the single most important sending country, accounting for ten percent of all Bildungsausländer in Germany.

On the out-going side, 90 300 German students studied abroad in 2006/07 (most recent data available), an increase of eight percent from the previous year. The Netherlands, Austria, the UK and Switzerland continue to host close to two thirds of all German students abroad, and ten percent oft German students abroad enrol in the US.

The novelty of this year’s edition is a section focused on enrolment of Bildungsausländer at the doctoral level and trends therein. The data show a total number of 17 856 Bildungsausländer enrolled in German HEIs in 2008/09. This is a 50 percent increase compared to 2000/01, such that now one in six students completing a PhD comes from abroad. However, much is still unclear about foreign doctoral students, as formal enrolment for this degree is not mandatory in most German HEI’s.  Even though significant progress has been made in improving the accuracy of data collection, present data only cover the enrolled doctoral candidates, leaving out the difficult-to-estimate proportion of non-registered PhD candidates in Germany.

Wissenschaft weltoffen 2010