Number of German Students Abroad Increased by 3% While US, Croatia & Portugal Rise in Popularity

German students are increasingly travelling abroad to pursue their academic careers, with countries like Croatia and the United States growing in interest, whereas China is regaining international students after the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) has revealed.

The number of German students enrolled in foreign universities has increased by three per cent in 2021, indicating a total of 4,200 more students abroad. This takes the total number of German students studying abroad for the year to 137,700, Studying-in-Germany.org reports.

While the interest in international destinations has increased, the majority of German students continue picking nearby destinations, such as Austria, which was the most popular destination, with the total number of students reaching 36,100 in 2021.

German Students’ Preferred Destinations Remain Within Europe, Interest for UK Drops Significantly

After Austria, the Netherlands was the second most popular destination, with 24,400 students, followed by Switzerland (12,400), while the popularity of the United Kingdom dropped. Overall, around 68 per cent of German students in 2021 remained in the European Union.

However, the number of German students in the UK fell by 12 per cent or 1,600 to 11,100 compared to the previous year, meaning that the country was not among the three most popular countries to study in for the first time since 2013.

Destatis points out that for every 1,000 German students in Germany, 53 are studying abroad. In 2021, just over half (53 per cent) of German students studying abroad were enrolled in one of the three most popular destination countries.

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Croatia Receives 75% More German Students in 2021

The uptick has been attributed to the rising interest of German students in the US, with the total number of students picking this destination reaching 3,200 compared to Austria (2,300) and Portugal (1,000).

Regardless, countries that saw the highest increases in German students during 2021 include Croatia, where the share of students was three-fourths higher than in the previous year. Similarly, the number of students from Germany to the US rose by 59 per cent and to Portugal by 56 per cent.

China, a fairly popular destination among Germans, did not see the same results as the US or Portugal, but after the decline that occurred during COVID-19, when 133,400 students were only attending university abroad, this number is heading towards pre-pandemic levels.

In eleven countries worldwide, including the People’s Republic of China, the number of German students has fallen continuously since 2019, while in half of all countries, the 2019 numbers either reached or exceeded,” a statement by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reads.

Human Medicine Students Often Pick Eastern European Universities

Due to the limited number of study places for the human medicine discipline, many German students sought other destinations to get their expertise, with Eastern Europe emerging as an option.

Destatis points out that the majority of these students chose Lithuania (73 per cent), followed by Hungary (64 per cent) and Poland (59 per cent) while the lowest percentage share was recorded in the Czech universities (44 per cent).

Whereas the most popular subjects for German students remain “Economics, Administration, and Law” with 27,700 students (21 per cent) and “Social Sciences, Journalism, and Information Technology” with 24,700 (19 per cent) students. Of the 24,000 German students enrolled in the Netherlands, two-thirds (67 per cent) chose these subject groups.

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