Germany hits new record for international student numbers

The latest report from the German academic exchange body also found that the number of international students in Germany continued to increase throughout the pandemic, although this was in part due to a significant number of existing international students extending their study programs in response to the disruption caused by Covid-19. 

China remains the leading student source country for Germany’s universities, accounting for 12 percent of international students, followed by students from India. Since 2017-18, the number of Indian students has risen by 65 percent to around 28,500, while growth in the number of incoming Chinese students has slowed.

Additional data from the 2020-21 academic year shows that most international students in Germany are from the Asia Pacific region (31 percent), followed by students from North Africa and the Middle East (20 percent). The number of students from the MENA region rose significantly faster over the past three years than that of those from other regions. 

Western European students mainly came from Austria, Italy and France, and, in the 2020-21 winter semester, more international students were taking master’s courses at German universities than bachelor’s. 

“This represents a huge opportunity for discussion regarding our domestic shortage of skilled labour”

“Over the past two years, Germany has managed to maintain its good reputation among students and doctoral candidates around the world, and is now harvesting the fruits of its ongoing efforts to ensure quality and provide care for international students,” said DAAD president Joybrato Mukherjee.

“This also represents a huge opportunity for discussion regarding our domestic shortage of skilled labour.” 

Bettina Stark-Watzinger, German education minister, described the growth as “very pleasing” and noted that international students “represent an enormous potential of skilled workers”. 

The number of Germans studying abroad has remained level for the past five years at approximately 138,000. Austria, the Netherlands and the UK are the most popular outbound destinations. 

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