Student mobility

Internationalisation in figures

Higher education in Germany is internationally attractive. Figures on international mobility.

International mobility

  • 4.3 million students are internationally mobile across the globe.
  • According to the OECD, this figure will increase to 7 million in the coming years.
  • Germany is an internationally attractive study location. Germany has the third most international students behind the USA and Great Britain and is followed directly by France and Australia.
  • The German government wants to improve this position but other countries are catching up swiftly. The fastest growing target regions internationally are developing countries in Latin America and Asia.
  • Furthermore, international mobility has always been one of the key targets of the Bologna Reforms and the Europe 2020 strategy drawn up by European education ministers.

International students in Germany

  • The number of international students in Germany reached a new high, more than 265,000, in 2012.
  • Germany is now third in the list of host countries and is the most popular non-English speaking host country for international students.
  • The parallel sharp increase in the number of German students has slightly reduced the share of international students to approximately 11 %. Of the international students enrolled at German higher education institutions, some 193,000 were foreign students and around 72,000 were foreign students with a secondary education in Germany.
  • The special thing about Germany is that students are coming from many different countries. Most international students are from China, followed by Russia, then Austria, Bulgaria, Poland, Turkey, the Ukraine, India, France and Cameroon in close succession. The student population, thus, is very diverse. 
  • Data on the international student situation in Germany are collected every three years as part of DSW’s Social Survey.

German students abroad

  • Approximately 134,000 German students were enrolled at universities abroad in 2012 (see the Wissenschaft Weltoffen data report). The most popular study countries were Austria, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Switzerland. The number of students going to Portugal, Romania, Turkey and China has increased particularly strongly.
  • The international mobility of German students is thus relatively high: 25% of German students completed a study period abroad in 2011 (see the Entwicklung der Auslandsmobilität  - development of international mobility report produced by the Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH in 2011).
  • Approximately 30,000 German students study abroad in more than 30 European countries as part of the European Union’s ERASMUS programme each year.
  • 5,000 of these students decide to complete an internship abroad; the other 25,000 opt for a study period abroad (see the annual reports of the German Academic Exchange Programme or DAAD).
  • ERASMUS supports more than 230,000 students from across Europe each year. A total of more than three million young people have studied abroad with ERASMUS between 1987 and 2013.