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Germany Higher Education Statistics

Germany International Student Statistics

Germany International Student Statistics

(Updated 2022)

416,437 International Students

Germany is the top choice for international students who want to study abroad in Europe. With 416,437 international students, as of 2022 statistics – Germany ranks in the top five 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 416,437.
  • Of the total 416,437 foreign students, 324,729 are international students and 91,708 are resident international students.
  • International student enrollment has increased by 38.1% from 2014 to 2021.
  • The top international student countries of origin in Germany are China (40,122) closely followed by India (28,542).
  • The majority of international students in Germany study Engineering, a total of 136,579.

Historical International Student Statistics in Germany

  • The total number of international students studying abroad in Germany is 416,437.
  • The number of international students in Germany has increased significantly in the last eight to nine years.
  • An increase of 38.1% in international student enrollment occurred between 2014 and 2021.
  • International student enrollment increased by 1.17% in the last two years.
  • Within a period of 5 years —from 2017 to 2021— enrollment of international students increased by 16%.
Year International Students Resident International Students Total International
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 Germany by Country of Origin

  • China leads with 40,122 students, among the top countries with the most international students in Germany.
  • After China, India is the second country with the highest number of foreign students in Germany (28,542), followed by Syria with 16,931 students and Austria (13,612).
  • Russia ranks fifth with the most international students in Germany, with 10,573 students.
  • An almost equal number of international students come from Iran (10,561) and Turkey (10,018).
  • Other countries with the majority of international students in Germany include Italy (8,576), Cameroon (7,970), Tunisia (6,729), Ukraine (6,572), and France (6,532).
  • From the most important countries that bring international students to Germany, the United States is the last with 4,755 students.

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 73,881.
  • After North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria comes second with the most international students (48,625).
  • There are currently 36,056 international students in the federal state of Berlin.
  • Fourth and fifth in the top German federal states with the largest number of international students are Baden Wuerttemberg with 33,073 students and Hesse with 27,060 students.
  • As of 2020/21, there are 20,647 international students in Lower Saxony and 16,556 students in Saxony.
  • Other German federal states hold the following number of international students: Rhineland-Palatinate (12,998), Thuringia (12,194), Hamburg (11,244), Saxony-Anhalt (7,822), Brandenburg (7,437), Bremen (5,252), Schleswig-Holstein (4,267), Saarland (4,014), and finally Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with 3,603 students.

Universities For International Students in Germany

  • There are two types of universities in Germany: University (Universität) and University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).
  • Of 324,729 international students, 228,292 are currently studying in a “University”; 96,437 are studying in a University of Applied Sciences.
  • A total of 66,842 international students enrolled in a “University” program at the undergraduate level; 105,457 students are enrolled in master programs, and 18,742 are enrolled in other degree programs.
  • A total of 60,399 are getting a bachelor’s degree in a University of Applied Sciences, and 31,804 are getting a master’s degree.
  • Only 69 international students enrolled in a University of Applied Sciences study at the doctoral level.
Degree Level University (Universität) University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).
Bachelor's 66,842 60,399
Master 105,457 31,804
Doctorate 27,544 69
No Degree Program 9,707 2,656
Other 18,742 1,509

Top Subjects For International Students in Germany

Here are the most popular subjects for international students in Germany:

  • Engineering has the most international students in Germany, a total of 136,579, followed by Law, Economics and Social Sciences with 79,415 students.
  • Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Humanities rank third and fourth respectively with 33,341 and 28,700 international students.
  • There are 14,651 international students enrolled in the field of Human Medicine and Health Sciences.
  • The number of international students enrolled in Art and Art Studies is 13,110, and 5,441 students in Agriculture, Forestry, Nutritional Science, Veterinary Medicine.
  • In other fields of study not mentioned above, there are currently 1,910 international students.

Erasmus Students in Germany Statistics

  • There are currently 17,806 Erasmus students in all German federal states.
  • Across all federal states in Germany, most international Erasmus students are in Baden Wuerttemberg (3,487), followed by Bavaria with 3,155 students.
  • North Rhine-Westphalia is second from the top among the federal states that host the most international Erasmus students, a total of 2,953.
  • Berlin is ranked third, with a total of 2,016 international Erasmus students.
  • After Berlin, Hesse is the fourth federal state with the most international Erasmus students (1,104).
  • Ranked fifth and sixth in German federal states that host international Erasmus students are Saxony (951) and Lower Saxony (838).
  • Other German federal states with incoming Erasmus students are Rhineland-Palatinate with 763 students, Hamburg (613), Brandenburg (455), Bremen (329), Thuringia (318), Schleswig-Holstein (259), Saarland (250), Saxony-Anhalt (188), and finally Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (127).

International Student Numbers Grow Despite Pandemic

  • From 2019/20, the number of international students studying abroad in Germany has increased by 1.17% —from 411,601 to 416,437 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 of 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 almost 138,000.
  • With 30,231 students, Austria leads the top 10 host countries with the highest number of German students, followed by the Netherlands with 22,439 students.
  • Ranked third and fourth for hosting the majority of German students are the United Kingdom with 14,145 students and Switzerland with 11,536 students.
  • The total number of German students studying abroad in the USA is 9,242, and 8,079 German students are studying abroad in China.
  • Other host countries with the most German students include France with 4,715 students, Turkey (4,022), Hungary (3,447), and Denmark (2,980).
  • The total number of German students participating in Erasmus programs in host countries is 40,852. Of this total, 28,712 are enrolled in Universities, and 12,140 students are enrolled in Universities of Applied Sciences.
  • Spain is the host country with the most German students participating in Erasmus abroad, with 6,583 students.
  • After Spain, France comes second with the highest number of German students studying abroad with Erasmus, a total of 5,352 students.
  • The United Kingdom and Italy are ranked third and fourth for hosting German Erasmus students, with 3,706 and 2,764 students.
  • 2,520 German students are studying abroad with Erasmus in Sweden and 2,126 in Finland.
  • Other host countries for German Erasmus students studying abroad include The Netherlands (2,026), Norway (1,948), Austria (1,879), Ireland (1,380), Portugal (1,265), Turkey (1,185), Poland (1,096), Belgium (1,087), and finally Denmark with 1,074 students.