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A golden opportunity for German universities?

German universities have seen impressive growth in international students over the past few years. So much so, it’s become the top-non English-speaking nation, leapfrogging France to claim the fourth spot in the ranking of countries with the most international degree-seeking students.

In 2019, 320,000 international students were studying in Germany, making up 10.5% of the total student cohort. And, although the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly have hit numbers for 2020, research1 shows that students are keener than ever to make Germany their study abroad destination.

Germany now has a golden opportunity to capitalize on recent trends and really establish itself as one of the world’s elite destinations for international students. Make sure your university doesn’t miss out.

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A benefit of Brexit?

The UK has long been the most popular European destination for international students, thanks to its world-class universities, unrivaled reputation, and abundance of English language programs.

However, the UK’s exit from the European Union threatens to knock them off the top. Not only has Brexit had a negative impact on the way the UK is perceived by international students, it also means that many would face much higher fees than before.

Students from the EU and Switzerland could previously study in the UK and pay the same as home students, however, this benefit is no longer available after Brexit. This means the cost for some international students to study in the UK could almost double.

This offers German universities the chance to attract those European students that are now priced out of UK universities.

A strong pandemic response

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a hugely disruptive impact on everyone, especially international students. Many have had their plans derailed, been forced to cut their studies short, or found themselves trapped abroad and unable to return home.

How different nations have dealt with the pandemic is likely to play an important role in how international students choose their study abroad destination. The US and UK have been criticized for how they’ve handled the crisis, and this could have a huge impact on international student enrollments.

The US has seen the number of Chinese student enrollments plummet following tensions between the two nations. The former administration’s comments about China’s role in the COVID-19 outbreak, and tighter visa regulations, have meant that many Chinese students are looking elsewhere for their international study.

Germany’s response has been viewed as a success, and a survey1 showed that three-quarters of students planning to study in the country said it was very likely they’d still come. It could be that those turning their backs on the top two international student destinations could see Germany as the perfect alternative.

How to capitalize on this opportunity

German universities have several fantastic benefits that make them the stand-out option for thousands of international students.

If you want to grasp this golden opportunity with both hands, it’s vital you understand what is driving students to Germany, and what else you can do to attract them.

A recent survey2 of more than 1,200 international students found that:

  • 33% choose Germany as there were no tuition fees to pay

  • 31% choose Germany because of the reputation of its universities

  • 10% choose Germany thanks to the employment opportunities

Here are some of the ways you can boost your institution's international enrollments:

Highlight the cost benefits

Money is the number-one reason students drop out of university, so make the most of the affordability of German higher education. Even if your university does charge fees, chances are they’re much lower than the likes of the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Invest in English-taught programs

For Germany to truly rival the top three study abroad destinations, universities need to be offering a range of programs taught in English. Most international students want to take their international programs in English, so by expanding your offering you’ll have a much better chance of increasing enrollments.

Supporting students to develop their German speaking skills is also an important factor. 36% of students stated that the language barrier was the biggest challenge once they arrived, so by promoting your language support systems, you can help put those fears to rest.

Improve engagement with international students

Take steps to improve the ways you communicate with prospective international students. Use tools that Gen-Z students engage best with, and appeal to what motivates them.

Students’ first port of call will be your website, so make sure this is [optimized to meet their needs](LINK TO Fives ways universities can make their websites more inclusive GUIDE). It should answer their questions, address their concerns, and highlight why they should choose your university.

Work with Studee

We speak to thousands of international students and can match them to your entry requirements, which means you only get high-quality leads.

Our NAFSA-trained advisors speak to pupils on a daily basis, and are international student recruitment experts. They know the admission processes inside out and can find the perfect students for your university.

Book a free, non-obligatory meeting today to find out how we can help you achieve your international student recruitment goals.

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1 Fintiba, 2020

2 Expatrio, 2020