Foreign students studying at German universities number over quarter of a million for first time


“Wissenschaft weltoffen 2012” by DAAD and HIS-HF shows China is key

Bonn, 30 July 2012. 2011 marks the first year that foreign students registered at German universities numbered over 250,000 – this represents 11.4% of all students in Germany. Most of these hail from China, with Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, and Austria following by a clear margin. These results stem from the current issue of the data report “Wissenschaft weltoffen” (Science Open to the World) which the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) publishes annually in cooperation with the HIS-Institute for Research on Higher Education (HIS-HF). Key focus is given to Chinese students, scientists, and researchers at German universities. Further details are available on the internet at

Over the last few years, the largest proportion of foreign students has come from China: In 2011, the number of Chinese students matriculated at German university came to 22,828 – with the figure still rising. They have an above-average level of study success. “Discovering another understanding of what it means to study and learn is a very enriching experience for young Chinese”, highlights Professor Chen Hongjie from the renowned Peking university in his contribution. German scientific culture characteristics such as independence, a critical stance, a systematic approach, and thoroughness leave a deep impression, says Professor Chen.

An underlying reason for this rising trend is the existence of meanwhile 750 cooperations between German and Chinese universities. “Increasingly, the trend is not limited to the exchange of students, scientists, and researchers but also encompasses the joint development of curricula or even the export of entire study courses to China”, explains Niels Albers, head of the DAAD’s China Division.

All in all, Germany has never seen so many foreign fresher students matriculate as in 2010, when the figure reached 66,400. Around a third of foreign students hail from Asia and approximately half come from Europe. Here the Eastern European states such as Russia, Bulgaria, Poland are the key players. And yet, the number of Western European students matriculated at German universities is continuing to grow. In this respect the key countries of origin are Austria, France, and Spain.

After the USA, UK, and Australia, Germany holds fourth place among the key guest countries chosen by international students. However, in contrast to the above three English-speaking countries, Germany also has a high number of own students pursuing studies abroad: the figure reached 115,500 in 2009. Thus it has a far better balance of internationally mobile students matriculated at home and abroad.

The data report „Wissenschaft weltoffen“ is published annually. It provides details on the current status of international studies and research and is complemented by an extensive range of data provided on the internet, accessible at It can be downloaded as a PDF file at



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