Degree-related and temporary study-related international mobility of German students, since 1991

In 2019, around 138,000 German nationals were studying abroad, with this figure dwindling by roughly 3% (in the region of 142,000) since 2016. Most of these students (approx. 90%) also intended to graduate abroad.

A closer look at the trend in overall figures shows that, in the period between 2002 and 2010, in other words, during the introduction of the new, tiered study system, above-average growth rates of 10% and more were achieved in one year. During this period, the proportion of internationally mobile students in relation to the total number of German students rose from 3.4% to 6.0%. This suggests that many students have taken – and are still taking – advantage of the option provided by the new study system of following a bachelor’s programme in Germany with a master’s programme abroad. Since the new types of degree were introduced, the absolute number of internationally mobile German students has not continued to rise, however. Their share of all German students has even fallen slightly to currently 5.1% due to the steady growth in the number of students in Germany up to 2015.

The situation is similar for temporary study-related visits abroad undertaken by German students. Between 1991 and 2000, the share of students (in later semesters) with temporary visits abroad shot up from 20% to 32%, stabilising at this level until 2006. Since then, however, there has been a steady decline, to 28% in the most recent survey to date in 2016. In contrast to degree-related international mobility, the introduction of the two-cycle study system of bachelor’s and master’s programmes was thus not accompanied by an increase in temporary study-related mobility. In fact, temporary student mobility even declined to a certain extent during this period and continued to do so after the introduction of the bachelor’s/master’s system.

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