Germany International Student Statistics 2020

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Germany is becoming a very popular study destination for ambitious international students, standing alongside major study abroad destinations like the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. As a result, Germany has reached its goal of welcoming 350,000 international students in 2017, which is three years earlier than planned. Today, Germany encompasses almost 400,000 international students across its higher education institutions, specifically a total of 394,665 international students enrolled in the German higher education sector as of winter semester 2018/19. 

Read the sections below for more information on international student statistics in Germany. 

Main reasons why international students choose Germany

  • Free/affordable education. Nearly all public universities in Germany have introduced tuition-free education in 2014 and only charge a small administrative fee (€150-€250/semester).
  • Affordable cost of living. Cost of living in Germany is affordable, where an international student only needs approximately €861 per month to live comfortably. 
  • Excellent higher education system. Germany is at the forefront of innovation, science, and research. Its higher education sector is valued and recognized worldwide.
  • Opportunity to work during/after studies. International students can work part-time during their studies to earn an extra income, and have the opportunity to stay in Germany for up to 18 months after graduation (through an extended residence permit) to find employment. 
  • Diverse student population. The student population in Germany is made of international students from all corners of the world, including China, Italy, France, and India, among others.
  • Numerous scholarship opportunities. Scholarships like the DAAD Scholarship Programme, Heinrich Böll Foundation Scholarships, or DeutschlandStipendium National Scholarship (among others) are all available for international students in Germany.

Top Reasons According to Studying in Germany Survey

  • Low Tuition Fees: 35.3%.
  • Educational Quality and Qualified Academia: 29.3%.
  • English Language Programmes and Student Diversity: 20.4%.
  • Attractive Country: 15.1%.

International Student Growth in Germany Over the Years

  • Winter Semester 2018/2019: A total of 394,665 international students in Germany. 
  • Winter Semester 2017/2018: A total of 374,583 international students in Germany. 
  • Winter Semester 2016/2017: A total of 358,895 international students in Germany.
  • Winter Semester 2015/2016: A total of 340,305 international students in Germany.
  • Winter Semester 2014/2015: A total of 321,569 international students in Germany.
  • Winter Semester 2013/2014: A total of 301,350 international students in Germany.

Brief Description of International Student Growth in Germany in Past Years

  • International student numbers in Germany have experienced approximately a 30.9% increase in a matter of 5 years, from 2014 to 2019. 
  • In a matter of 1 year, from 2018 to 2019, international student numbers have experienced approximately a 5.3% increase.
  • Ever since tuition-free education education in Germany was approved by the Government in 2014, international student numbers have spiked, from 301,350 to 394,665. 
  • International student numbers in Germany have been showing a steady growth throughout the years. 
  • Germany estimated reaching a total of 350,000 international students by the year 2020, a number which has been reached in the year 2017, three years prior estimation date.

Types of the Higher Education Institutions International Students Choose

  • International students in Germany are more likely to choose a University (Universität) over a University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).
  • The gap between foreign university students and foreign university of applied sciences students remains large.

International Student Numbers by Type of Higher Education Institution

Academic Year University University of Applied Sciences
2018/2019 271,687 intl students 122,978 intl students
2017/2018 259,461 intl students 115,122 intl students
2016/2017 251,007 intl students 107,888 intl students

International Students in Germany by Country of Origin

  • Most international students at German universities are from the following countries: China, India, Russia, Austria, Italy, France, Cameron, Ukraine, and Turkey.
  • China is traditionally the largest distributor of international students at German universities.
  • In 2019, 39,871 Chinese students were enrolled in German universities.
  • Other groups of international students enrolled in 2019 were from: India (20,562), Russia (10,439), Austria (11,495), Italy (9,246), France (7,047), Cameroon (7,211), Ukraine (6,926), and Turkey (8,470).

Brief Description of International Students in Germany by Country of Origin

  • The number of Chinese international students in Germany has increased by approximately 31.7% from 2015 (30,259) to 2019 (39,871).
  • Between 2016 and 2017, Indians at German universities had the largest growth by 16% (11,655 to 13,537).
  • International student numbers from Italy in Germany have increased by 3.7% from the year 2018 to 2019 (8,908 to 9,246 students).
  • International student numbers from India in Germany have increased by 18.8% from the year 2018 to 2019 (17,294 to 20,562 students).
  • International students in Germany from Ukraine have experienced a decrease of 1.5% in a matter of 1 year, from 2018 to 2019 (7,037 to 6,926 students).

International Students in Germany by Study Field

  • Most international students study Engineering at German universities.
  • In 2018/2019, 119,666 international students were studying Engineering in Germany.
  • The second most preferred study fields for international students are Law, Economics and Social Sciences.
  • With only 1,018 foreign students enrolled in 2019, sports courses are the least preferred study options for international students in Germany.

International Students in Germany by Course Level

  • As of 2019, 37.6% international students in Germany were attending a Bachelor’s degree course, 37.9% a Master’s degree, 9% PhD programs, 6.8% other degrees and 8.6% non-degree courses.
  • In 2019, the majority of international students enrolled in a postgraduate degree course.
  • In 2017, 90,214 international students started their Undergraduate studies and 132,726 international students started their postgraduate studies.

Future Plans of International Students in Germany

  • According to a survey by studying-in-germany.org, 69.2% of international students say they prefer to stay in Germany after graduation to find employment.
  • 16.5% international students plan on returning home after graduation.
  • 14.3% of international students would like to stay around and travel to interesting places.

Funding Options for International Students in Germany

  • 37.5% of students plan to fund their education through part-time working.
  • 29% of students plan to remain on their savings and family incomes.
  • 24.3% plan to rely on scholarships.
  • 9.2% plan to get a student loan.

Further Information

Statistics for analysis generated by: 

>> Wissenschaft Weltoffen.

>> Studying in Germany survey.

>> Analysis by Studying-in-Germany.org.