Germany's International Enrollment Continues to Grow

In a new report on the state of higher education in Germany, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) have found that internationalization efforts over the past decade aimed at making Germany a more appealing place to study have helped foreign enrollment reach a new high of 320,000 in 2015, an annual increase of 7% and over 30% for the past decade. Overall, foreign enrollees made up around 12% of the total student population in Germany last year.

Foreign enrollment in Germany, 2009-2015. Source: DAAD, DZHW, ICE

Foreign enrollment in Germany, 2009-2015. Source: DAAD, DZHW, ICE

Internationalization efforts of the past decade have focused on a number of areas, including increasing the number of English-taught master's programs, tuition fees, and improved work rights for international students. All of this is part of the German government's goal of attaining an enrollment of 350,000 international students by 2020, a goal that looks very achievable based on the current rate of growth.

Despite the increasing opportunities and warm climate towards international students in Germany, North America lags Europe and Asia significantly, with only 2.4 % growth in enrollment during the past year. 

Bildungsausländer in Germany, by region of origin, 2015. Source: DAAD, DZHW, ICEF  

Bildungsausländer in Germany, by region of origin, 2015. Source: DAAD, DZHW, ICEF

 

There are several reasons for this discrepancy. First, American universities still rank top in the world, outpacing their European and Oceanic rivals. Studying abroad is also still relatively uncommon for Americans, with only 1.5% of Americans studying abroad during the 2013/2014 school year

Currently, American students make up just 2 percent of the total population of international students in Germany and rank at 15th overall in the country, far behind China, India and Russia. 

Bildungsausländer from the top 20 countries of origin, 2015. Source: DAAD, DZHW, ICEF

Bildungsausländer from the top 20 countries of origin, 2015. Source: DAAD, DZHW, ICEF

In terms of level of study, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students make up approximately equal shares of the overall enrollment, with each category making up about a third of the total. Regional distribution was also fairly uneven, especially for Americans, with Berlin hosting the majority of enrollees.