Germany is growing in popularity as a study destination for international students, particularly those from India. The total number of international students studying in Germany was 349,438 in 2021/22 according to German Academic Exchange Service figures. This is an increase of 17.6% over the five-year period from 2018 to 2022.

Growing number of Indian students

While the overall number of international students studying in Germany has increased, there has been a much sharper uptick in the number of Indian students choosing to study in Germany. According to UNESCO figures, Germany is currently the sixth most popular destination for students from India, behind major destinations such as the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK. India is Germany’s second-largest source of international students, with 33,753 Indian students comprising 9.7% of the total international student population. This is almost double the number of Indian students who were studying in Germany in 2018 (17,294). China is the top sender of students to Germany, with 40,100 students (12%), while Syria is the third-largest source, with around 16,700 students (5%) studying in Germany.

Surge in Indian student visa applications

However, there are indications that the number of Indian students studying in Germany may grow even more rapidly according to remarks made by Ambassador Philipp Ackerman during a panel discussion at the recent Acumen Global Gateway Summit. Ambassador Ackerman noted that the German Embassy in India currently has 25,000 new applications from Indian students for the “next two semesters” according to a report in The Pie News. Ambassador Ackerman also noted the challenge of processing such a large number of visa applications, a task slowed down by the need to week out fraudulent applications, which is around 5-10% of all applications.

Ambassador Ackerman remarked that Germany’s tuition-free higher education system (including international students), along with a growing number of programs taught in English was adding to the attraction of Germany as a study abroad destination. India and Germany’s recently negotiated migration and mobility agreement, signed in December 2022, which aims to facilitate the exchange of students and employment opportunities between the two countries, is also likely to be a key factor driving the surge in applications to study at German universities.

German student housing pressures

A statement by Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW), Germany’s association of 57 student services organisations, accompanying the release of the organisation’s latest student housing figures highlights student housing supply issues:

“there are currently a good 239,000 state-subsidized places for students nationwide, of which more than 196,000 are in student unions.

As the new DSW numbers show again, the supply of state-subsidized student accommodation lags far behind the number of state-subsidized study places.”

In the same statement, DSW CEO Matthias Anbuhl said:

“The housing market in the university towns is strained to the breaking point. Housing remains a central social issue of our time. The prices for gas, electricity, heat and food are going through the roof. Affordable housing for students is therefore more urgently needed than ever. Dormitory places for students must be expanded.

The student and student unions build wherever they can. More than 14,000 places in halls of residence are currently being planned or under construction. In order to meet the persistently high demand for affordable housing, however, we need political support.

We need a total of 2.6 billion euros in federal and state subsidies by 2027 for the climate-friendly new construction of 25,000 additional living spaces as well as the renovation and modernization, but also digital retrofitting, of the dormitory stock of the student unions.

We expressly welcome the measures taken by the federal government, such as the Alliance for Affordable Housing, which we have also joined. The same applies to the “Junges Wohnen” program, with which the federal government wants to create more affordable housing for students from the beginning of 2023 with 500 million euros from the federal budget.”