Michael Gardner. Germany is sending more students abroad to study than other Western European countries and the number of international students in Germany is set to increase, according to a survey by the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, and the statistics agency HIS.
All in all, more than 100,000 Germans were studying abroad in 2008. Most of them had not been studying in Germany before. "No Western European country can boast more of its own students abroad," said Dr Simone Burkhart of DAAD.
Around 2,500 to 3,500 German bachelors of the 2009 graduate cohort went on to study abroad, representing around 5% at universities and 3% at fachhochschulen, or universities of applied science. If this level is maintained, with student numbers on the increase, around 11,000 bachelor degree graduates could be opting for a stay abroad to obtain a masters in two to three years' time.
"At the moment, it is above all bachelors graduating from economics and social sciences who seek to go abroad to do a masters course. In contrast, we are still observing more restraint among the engineering sciences," said Ulrich Heublein of the HIS-Institut für Hochschulforschung, which specialises in higher education statistics.
According to Heublein, higher education institutions in the United Kingdom in particular, but also in Austria, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, are popular with German masters students.
More foreigners are coming to Germany to study, too. In the 2010 academic year, 181,000 international students enrolled at higher education institutions in the country. Nearly one in 10 students in Germany is a foreign citizen and obtained a higher education entrance qualification abroad.
Foreign students above all come from East Asia and Eastern Europe, with China, Russia, Poland and Bulgaria leading. But students from Western European countries such as Austria and France are also getting more interested in studying in Germany. And 63,500 foreign citizens studied in Germany in 2010 who also went to school here, usually as children from immigrant families.
Particularly large numbers of foreign students opt for courses in the engineering sciences, where their share is almost twice as high as it is in other subjects. More and more foreign students are also enrolling for advanced and doctoral studies courses.
In postgraduate studies, a number of differences can be observed among the federal states, with the Saar, Bremen and Berlin boasting a very large share of international students, while those in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein are still relatively small.
Whereas most foreign students in Brandenburg come from Poland, in the Saar it is French students and in Hamburg and Saxony, Austrian students who make up the lion's share. Chinese students form the largest group in all other federal states.
"In terms of their foreign students, German higher education institutions also compare well internationally. Together with the US, the United Kingdom, France and Australia, Germany is attracting the largest number of mobile students from other countries," said Burkhart.