Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can German universities stand out from the crowd and attract the best international students?

Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can German universities stand out from the crowd and attract the best international students?


We’ve been looking at the third most popular study destination in the world; Germany. The economic powerhouse of Europe, a founding member of the EU and home to one of the most historic, multicultural and fun cities in the world – it’s no surprise that so many students want to study in Germany.

Add to that the fact that there are no tuition fees for undergraduate students (domestic or international) and you can easily understand why it is the third most popular study destination in the world.

The Germans have worked hard to attract students from all over the world, and it certainly helps that 23 of their universities recently featured in the top 200 European higher education institutions the 2016 Times Higher Education ranking.

Where do their international students come from?

International culture is a big deal in Germany, and they welcome students from all over the word. Of the foreign student intake, the majority come from South & Southeast Asia – with China being a major source, 26% from Eastern Europe, and another 19% from Western Europe.

Germany's international students map

And how easy is it for them to stay in Germany?

The country offers a great visa and immigration process in Germany and the employment prospects after graduation – the enhanced employability factor is often cited as the main motivation for students continuing their education overseas.

But, is it good for the economy?

Germany is only too happy to welcome them – struggling with an ageing population, a declining birth rate, and a skills gap starting to emerge (particularly within the technical sector), it’s a good upside for the economy to attract talented foreign students who are studying these subjects.

So, what next?

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) set a target for Germany host to 350,000 foreign students by 2020, and with over 320,000 at the last count, they’re well on their way to reaching this. With demand from students all over the world not looking to slow anytime soon, the big question for German institutions is how are they going to stand out in such a competitive market, and ensure they attract the best talent out there – with a focus on quality over quantity? 

Top Tips for German institutions to reach the best talent out there



  • China is a significant market for international student recruitment in Germany, Research shows that subject-specific rankings are more important to Chinese students than overall rankings, so big up any subject specialisms you offer.
  • Career services, links to the business community and connections with prestigious businesses are all a major draw.
  • Peer reviews go a long way in convincing Chinese students of where to study so using current students as advocates would be a great way to go.
  • Use Baidu – China’s main search platform.


  • India is Germany’s second largest source market – quality of education and employment prospects are considered the most important factors for Indian students so highlight any industry links, applied course content in your recruitment strategies
  • Emphasise the diversity of your student body as this is a big appeal for Indian students
  • Google is a super important channel with enjoying almost 100% of the market share in India

Get in touch with our team of digital experts, to learn how we can revolutionise your digital marketing strategy and generate more student enrolments for your institution.