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Germany Higher Education Statistics

Germany International Student Statistics

Germany International Student Statistics

(Updated 2024)

458,210 International Students

Germany is the top choice for international students who want to study abroad in Europe. With 458,210 international students, as of the latest statistics – Germany ranks in the top three countries in the world by the number of international students. Plenty of reasons play a part in Germany’s ever-growing international student population, and its tuition-free education is one of them.

Quick Summary

There are two types of international students studying abroad in Germany: international students (Bildungsauslaender) and resident international students (Bildungsinlaender).

  • International students are considered students of other nationalities who have finished their prior education studies (needed for higher education entrance qualification in Germany) in their home country.
  • Resident international students are those who have finished their prior education studies in Germany or attended a German school beforehand.
  • The total number of international students studying abroad in Germany is 458,210.
  • Of the total 458,210 foreign students, 367,578 are international students, and 90,632 are resident international students.
  • International student enrollment (total) has increased by 52% from 2013 to 2023.
  • The top international student countries of origin in Germany are India (42,578 students) and China (39,137 students).
  • North Rhine-Westphalia is currently the top federal state in Germany, with the highest number of international students, a total of 77,199.
  • The majority of international students in Germany study Engineering, a total of 145,707.

Historical International Student Statistics in Germany

  • The total number of international students studying abroad in Germany is 458,210, according to Wissenschaft weltoffen.
  • The number of international students in Germany has increased significantly in the last eight to nine years.
  • An increase of 27.6% in international student enrollment occurred between 2016 and 2023.
  • International student enrollment increased by 10% in the last two years.
  • Within a period of 5 years —from 2018/2019 to 2022/2023— enrollment of international students increased by 16.1%.
Year International Students Resident International Students Total International
2022/2023 367,578 90,632 458,210
2021/2022 349,438 91,126 440,564
2020/2021 324,729 91,708 416,437
2019/2020 319,902 91,699 411,601
2018/2019 302,157 92,508 394,665
2017/2018 n/a n/a 374,583
2016/2017 n/a n/a 358,895
2015/2016 n/a n/a 340,305
2014/2015 n/a n/a 321,569
2013/2014 n/a n/a 301,350
International Students in the Germany.jpg

International Students in Germany by Country of Origin

  • India leads with 42,578 students, among the top countries with the most international students, in Germany.
  • After India, China is the second country with the most foreign students in Germany (39,137), followed by Syria with 15,563 students and Austria (14,762).
  • Turkey ranks fifth with the most international students in Germany, with 14,732 students.
  • Similar numbers of international students come from Iran (13,279) and Russia (10,490).
  • Other countries with the majority of international students in Germany include Italy (10,247), Ukraine (9,069), Pakistan (8,208), Egypt (7,777), and Cameroon (7,345).
  • Morocco brings 7,045 international students, France brings 6,997 students, and Spain brings 6,876.
Countries of Origin of International Students in Germany.jpg

International Students in Germany Federal State Distribution

  • North Rhine-Westphalia is currently the top federal state in Germany, with the highest number of international students, a total of 77,199.
  • After North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria comes second with the most international students (55,291).
  • Berlin ranks third, with 39,595 students, followed by Baden-Wuerttemberg (34,375).
  • Hesse comes next, with 28,280 international students, followed by Lower Saxony with 20,996 international students, and Saxony with 16,878 students.
  • As of 2021/2022 statistics, other German federal states hold the following number of international students: Thuringia (16,337), Rhineland-Palatinate (13,642), Hamburg (12,208), Saxony-Anhalt (8,532), Brandenburg (8,245), Bremen (5,485), Schleswig-Holstein (4,513), Saarland (4,195), and finally Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with 3,667 students.

Universities For International Students in Germany

From 2021/22:

  • There are two types of universities in Germany: University (Universität) and University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).
  • Of 349,438 international students in 2021/22, 242,310 were currently studying in a “University”; 107,128 are studying in a University of Applied Sciences.
  • A total of 66,178 international students enrolled in a “University” program at the undergraduate level; 112,161 students are enrolled in master programs, and 18,546 are enrolled in other degree programs.
  • A total of 64,300 are getting a bachelor’s degree in a University of Applied Sciences, and 36,740 are getting a master’s degree.
  • Only 84 international students enrolled in a University of Applied Sciences study at the doctoral level.
Degree Level University (Universität) University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule). Total Universities
Bachelor's 66,178 64,300 130,478
Master's 112,161 36,740 148,901
Doctorate 28,661 84 28,745
No Degree Program 16,764 4,590 21,354
Other 18,546 1,414 19,960
Total 242,310 107,128 349,438

Top Subjects For International Students in Germany

Here are the most popular subjects for international students in Germany, as of 2021/22:

  • Engineering has the most international students in Germany, a total of 145,707, followed by Law, Economics and Social Sciences with 87,350 students.
  • Mathematics and Natural Sciences; and Humanities rank third and fourth, respectively, with 31,581 and 39,854 international students.
  • There are 17,470 international students enrolled in the field of Human Medicine and Health Sciences.
  • The number of international students enrolled in Art and Art History is 16,932, and 7,636 students in Agriculture, Forestry, and Food Sciences.
  • In other fields of study not mentioned above, there are currently 2,908 international students.

Erasmus Students in Germany Statistics

From 2021/22:

  • There are currently 17,355 Erasmus students in all German federal states.
  • Across all federal states in Germany, most international Erasmus students are in Baden Wuerttemberg (3,388), followed by Bavaria with 3,184 students.
  • North Rhine-Westphalia is third from the top among the federal states that host the most international Erasmus students, a total of 2,796 students.
  • Berlin is ranked fourth, with a total of 2,068 international Erasmus students.
  • After Berlin, Hesse is the fifth federal state with the most international Erasmus students (980).
  • Ranked sixth and seventh in German federal states that host international Erasmus students are Saxony (920) and Lower Saxony (837).
  • Other German federal states with incoming Erasmus students are Rhineland-Palatinate with 771 students, Hamburg (556), Brandenburg (464), Thuringia (302), Bremen (267), Saarland (251), Saxony-Anhalt (231), Schleswig-Holstein (221) and finally Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (119).

International Student Numbers Grow Despite Pandemic

  • From 2019/20 to 2022/2023, the number of international students studying abroad in Germany has increased by 11.3% —from 411,601 to 458,210 students.
  • One of the main reasons why international students may choose to study abroad in Germany, despite the pandemic, is that most universities offer free tuition or affordable costs at higher education.
  • According to a study by Studying-in-Germany.org, another reason why the number of international students studying abroad in Germany is increasing is the growth in the number of programs in the English language (20.4% of respondents claimed so).
  • In addition, the mixed method of teaching (in-person and online learning) has caused an increase in international students going to Germany for higher education studies.

Do German Students Go Abroad?

  • The total number of German students studying abroad is 133,400 as of 2020 statistics.
  • With 33,836 students, Austria leads the top 10 host countries with the most German students, followed by the Netherlands with 24,494 students.
  • Ranked third and fourth for hosting the most German students are the United Kingdom, with 12,670 students, and Switzerland, with 11,932 students.
  • The total number of German students studying abroad in the USA is 5,364, and 4,261 German students are studying abroad in Turkey.
  • Other host countries with the most German students include France, with 3,823 students, Hungary (3,415), China (3,400), and Denmark (3,247).
  • The total number of German students participating in Erasmus programs in host countries is 42,279. Of this total, 29,801 are enrolled in Universities, and 12,478 students are enrolled in Universities of Applied Sciences.
  • Spain is the host country with the most German students participating in Erasmus abroad, with 6,698 students.
  • After Spain, France comes second with the highest number of German students studying abroad with Erasmus, a total of 6,184 students.
  • The United Kingdom and Sweden are ranked third and fourth for hosting German Erasmus students, with 3,591 and 2,888 students.
  • 2,741 German students study abroad with Erasmus in Italy and 2,409 in Finland.
  • Other host countries for German Erasmus students studying abroad include Austria (2,172), Norway (2,054), Netherlands (1,707), Portugal (1,495), Denmark (1,155), Ireland (1,151), Turkey (1,147), Belgium (1,058), and finally Poland with 874 students.