Fewer Students Attended STEM Programs at German HEIs in 2021, Official Data Show

engineering students

Fewer students were pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses at German higher education institutions in 2021, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

Figures show that the number of students enrolled in STEM programs dropped by 6.5 percent in the academic year of 2021 compared to the previous year. In 2021, the number of students who were pursuing a STEM course in their first semester, totaled 307,000, Erudera.com reports.

Destatis notes that the decrease is partly related to the total number of new students in these programs, which dropped by four percent in 2021 compared to 2019. At the same time, a decrease in students aged 17 and 22 years was recorded over the same period.

“The proportion of students in their first semester on a STEM course is declining at the same time. 37.7% decided in favour of a STEM subject in 2021. In 2015, that share had been 40.5%, an all-time high,” a press release issued by Destatis on Tuesday (January 23, 2023) said.

The same revealed that the number of women in Germany choosing STEM subjects was at a record high. In 2021, women made up nearly 35 percent of students engaged in a STEM-related course in their first semester of studies during the academic year 2021.

>> Germany: Women Starting Academic Careers Outnumbered Men in 2021

German universities are also highly popular for international students, and the country this year has been listed fourth as the most attractive study destination for international students, next to the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

By the end of December 2022, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) projected that between 355,000 and 365,000 international students were attending German colleges, which it said was between two and four percent more than a year ago.

“The figures prove once again that universities in Germany are extremely attractive to international students. Germany appears to have settled into a stable fourth place among the most popular study destinations worldwide,” DAAD President Joybrato Mukherjee said, commenting on figures released by DAAD.

Data collected by Erudera indicate that engineering, followed by law, economics and social sciences, as well as math and natural sciences are the three most popular subjects among international students in Germany. A total of 136,579 students pursue an engineering major, followed by 79,415 selecting law, economics and social sciences, and 33,341 students in math and natural science.

Other top subjects for international students in Germany include humanities, human medicine and health sciences, art studies, and more.

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Women made up nearly 35 percent of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses at German higher education institutions during the first semester of the academic year 2021, data from Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) have revealed. This was the highest share of female students to ever take STEM courses in Germany.