Destatis: 3.3% Drop in Number of German Students Abroad Recorded in 2020


The Coronavirus pandemic has affected the number of German students enrolled at universities abroad to drop by 3.3 per cent in 2020.

The most recent data published by the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) show that in 2020, 4,500 fewer Germans went studying abroad, which is 3.3 per cent less than in 2019, when there were 136,575 German students attending higher education outside of Germany, reports.

When interpreting these figures, it should be kept in mind that they do not reveal whether students were actually staying abroad or continued their studies via remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency points out, further asserting that the decrease is moderate, taking into account the harsh travel restrictions put in place worldwide due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The highest number of Germans studying outside of the country in the same year was marked in Austria, where 33,836 German students were enrolled, followed by the Netherlands with 24,494 students, the United Kingdom with 12,670 students, and Switzerland with 11,932.

Both Austria and the Netherlands, have actually marked an increase in the number of German students in their universities in 2020, by 11.9 per cent and 9.1 per cent, respectively.

Whereas the decrease has been marked in particular in China and the United States. While the number of German students in China dropped by 57.9 per cent, from 8,108 in 2019 to 3,400 in 2020, in France, the numbers dropped by 18.9 per cent, from 4,715 to 3,823.

Regarding first-year students, a significant increase was also marked in Austria, as the numbers went up from 9,084 to 10,904. The highest number of first-year students in 2020 was marked in the following countries:

  • Austria – 10,904
  • The Netherlands – 7,525
  • United Kingdom – 6,630
  • Switzerland – 3,536
  • Portugal – 1,313
  • Türkiye – 1,026

A large share of these students had the chance to attend university abroad thanks to the Erasmus+ program, the highest number of which went to Spain (5,621), followed by France (4,596), the United Kingdom (2,856), and Italy (2,427).

Regarding the top field of studies attended most by Germans in each country, there were 8,635 students in the Netherlands studying social sciences, journalism, and information science in 2020. Whereas, another 7,901 were studying the same field in Austria.

In Hungary, 2,399 Germans were studying health and social services, while in Switzerland 2,780 were enrolled in fields of economy, administration and law.

The number of foreigners attending their studies in Germany, on the other hand, has increased to a new record in the winter semester of 2021/22, when 350,000 international students were recorded attending German higher education institutions.

>> Erudera’s Complete Guide to Studying in Germany as an International Student

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