Are universities in Germany attractive for international students?
Back in Ancient Greece, the first universities were already a place where scholars from various countries came together. Science and research are bound less by national frontiers than they are by the general or international validity of their findings. What are German universities like today in terms of their internationality?
What makes German universities so attractive to foreign students? Surely the language barrier, red tape and relatively high living costs are enough to deter anyone from studying in Germany. A look at international rankings shows that, in comparison to English and US-American universities, German universities score more modest results.
Making it easier to study in Germany
Of course, there is no general answer to the question as to how attractive German universities are for international students. This is because every student who comes here has a different agenda and different aspirations.
Visa regulations, possibly the need for a residence or work permit, the various options for financing studies and the recognition of foreign qualifications are just some of the bureaucratic hurdles that international students have to contend with at German universities.
However, some of these framework conditions have changed considerably for the better. For example, the Bologna Process makes for easier recognition of foreign study credits – thanks, amongst other things, to the Europe-wide conversion to comprehensible and comparable Bachelor and Master Degrees.
‘Germany is first choice for international students’
That was the headline Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) used for a press release in January 2014. And according to a 2012 report by the German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk), German universities have become even more attractive for international students in recent years thanks to the information they now provide on residence regulations and funding and to the assistance students get in their dealings with the public authorities.
These improved conditions have led to a rise in the number of students from overseas. According to a study by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Centre for Research on Higher Education and Science Studies (DZHW), the number of international students at German universities went up by around 16 percent in the period between 2003 and 2013.
In fact, on average, one in ten students registered at a university in Germany is an international student. Presently, around 35 percent of all international students come from Asia, 27 percent from Eastern Europe, 19 percent from Western Europe, 10 percent from Africa and 8 percent from America. The country that stands out most in this respect is China.
Video: Germany – new horizons (English subtitle)
Excellence Initiative promotes universities in Germany
With its Excellence Initiative, the German Government is aiming to enhance its international competitiveness by promoting specific clusters of excellence at German universities in the fields of research and teaching. The LMU and the TU Munich, and the RWTH Aachen are amongst the ten German universities that have made it to the top 200 in the international ranking drawn up by the British newspaper ‘The Times’. They are also referred to as 'elite universities'. The increase in these three German universities’ attractiveness is also reflected in the high percentage of international students which, at more than 15 percent, is substantially higher than average.
Discussion about universities and studying in Germany
The community group ‘Study and Research' discusses the chances of succeeding as well as the advantages and disadvantages of studying in Germany. It also contains a lot of Alumni statements on universities in Germany and asks the question ‘Why did you decide to study in Germany?’ . Share your experience with the community, too!