Germany reaches enrolment target ahead of schedule

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Germany’s foreign enrolment grew again for the 2016/17 academic year, and now numbers nearly 360,000
  • This means that sometime during the year, the country officially reached its current target to host 350,000 international students by 2020

It’s official. Sometime earlier this year, Germany became one of the first major destinations to reach its ambitious growth target for international enrolment. As we have noted in some of our recent coverage, Germany is currently the sixth leading study destination worldwide, in terms of total student numbers.

As of the 2015/16 academic year, with a foreign enrolment of just over 340,000, Germany was indeed drawing close to its current target to reach 350,000 students by the year 2020. “Germany can see 350,000 from here,” we observed at the time on the strength of those 2015/16 figures.

We normally rely on the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for more detailed analysis of foreign enrolment in Germany. But an October 2017 data release from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) confirms that the country’s foreign enrolment continued to grow through the 2016/17 academic year. Destatis puts total international enrolment at just under 360,000 students for the year.

This works out to year-over-year growth rate for 2016/17 of 5.5%, and is very much on pace for the type of  growth that we have observed for Germany over the past decade or more. Within the past six years in particular, annual growth has typically been in the range of 5%–7% per year.

Even so, this will not be enough to move Germany up the table of leading study destinations, as both China and Canada continue to exhibit strong growth over 2016 and 2017 as well. But it does mean that Germany has met its current growth target a solid three or four years ahead of schedule.

“There is currently tough global competition for the brightest minds,” said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel in response to the news that Germany had surpassed its 350,000-student target. “All major educational and research locations around the world are trying to attract as many well-qualified young people as possible. The numbers show that Germany is very well positioned here. Education from Germany has an excellent international reputation, and our colleges have a strong appeal for students from around the world.”

Within the past few years alone, Germany’s international recruitment efforts have been boosted by a no-tuition policy for international students, improved opportunities for work during studies and after graduation, and the continuing expansion of English-taught programmes within German universities.

The country’s international enrolment is also notable for its balance and diversification with good representation from both European Union and non-EU sending markets.

For additional background, please see:



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