Policy: DAAD Report on Latest Trends in Student and Researcher Mobility

Report offering a comprehensive view of student and researcher mobility in Germany and worldwide.

A new report combines German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) internal data with figures released by UNESCO and the German Federal Statistical Office to offer a comprehensive view of student and researcher mobility in Germany and worldwide.

Student Mobility in Germany and Worldwide

The latest available figures covering the academic year 2021/22 reveal that the number of international students in Germany is continuing to increase despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Internationally, the US remains the most popular host country for international students. In 2020, 15% of all international students worldwide were enrolled in the US. In the global ranking, Germany takes fourth place, after the UK and Australia. Overall, Western Europe continues to be the most popular host region, followed by Asia and Pacific (22%) and North America (20%).

Of the 6.4 million students that were enrolled outside their home country in 2020, the majority originated from Asia and the Pacific region (43%). This is also true for international students in Germany, 31% of which come from this region. With around 1.1 million or 17% of all internationally mobile students, China provides by far the largest share of students. Another important country of origin is India (8%). While students from Vietnam, South Korea and Germany are also strongly represented, their share is no more than 2% respectively.

Intra-European student flows are dominated by exchange between neighbouring countries such as Germany and Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as France and Belgium.

In Germany, around 40,100 students or 12% of all international students are from China. With 33,800 (10%), India’s share of students is slightly above the international average. The third most common country of origin for international students in Germany is however Syria (5%) setting the country apart from overall international trends. Most international students in Germany choose to pursue degrees in engineering and law, economics and social sciences.

The DAAD report also offers interesting insights into the differing mobility balances in the various countries. While countries such as Australia have a ratio of only 3% outbound to 97% inbound students, the reverse can be observed in countries such as Vietnam, where 94% of internationally mobile students are outbound and only 6% are inbound.

International Researchers in Germany

The total number of international academic and artistic staff at German universities has been increasing steadily in the last 10 years. In 2021, 13.9% of all academic staff were foreign nationals, compared to 10.1% in 2011. The trend is even more stark at non-university research institutes where the number of academics and researchers with foreign citizenship has more than doubled between 2010 and 2020. Their share of all academic staff is now 28%.

The vast majority of international academic staff is from Western Europe. This tendency is particularly pronounced for staff holding professorships, where as many as 66% of the international professors came from Western European countries, particularly German-speaking countries such as Austria and Switzerland. Among international academic staff in general, India, Italy and China emerge as key countries of origin.

The full report including detailed graphs is available for download via the DAAD website in German and English.