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Problems international students face in Germany.

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The number of students enrolling at universities in Germany is rising. New data from the DAAD, a support agency for German students, foreign students and researchers, indicates a four percent rise in enrolment compared to the previous year in 2018.

This means that the country has met the goal set by the DAAD and the Joint Science Conference of the Federal Government and States (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz) to host 350,000 international students by 2020, hosting a total of 374,583 international students.

Although this demonstrates the increasing popularity of universities in Germany, the difficulties for international students remain, as shown by a DAAD survey, with a large effect on the progress of their studies and success rates.

Are universities in Germany part of your bucket list for studying abroad? If so, take note of the top three problems faced in Germany by international students:

  1. Difficulty seeking accommodation
    According to the survey, close to half (47 percent) registered great difficulty finding accommodation. Outside of the university world, this is the most commonly mentioned challenge. This overcomes issues with funding their studies, visa or residency permits, work permits, or health insurance.
    The survey states that this could be due to the significant increase in rent prices over the last 10 years.”

2. Communicating in German

The cost of student accommodation in Berlin has risen 67.3 percent since 2010, according to 2018 data from the German Economic Institute, with rental rates for flats in university cities around the country rising from 9.8 percent to a whopping 67.3 percent. In 2017, property prices in Berlin as a whole rose nearly 21 percent, a 2018 study by Knight Frank’s property consultancy showed.

Another big problem among international students is integration. Approximately a third (33%) reported significant difficulties communicating in German. Similarly, it was difficult to create relations with the population (30 percent) and with German students (28 percent).

So, what to do with a foreign student? Be nice with German, for one.

Among those who are fluent in German, less integration issues have been noticed. Just 12 percent cited severe difficulties communicating in German, while that figure is 76 percent for students with minimal German skills. There were also less issues seeking accommodation for those who are fluent in German (42 percent vs 55 percent), applying for their residence permit (17 percent vs 24 percent) and obtaining their work permit (12 percent vs 24 percent).

  1. Navigating the system of education
    For international students at universities in Germany, study-related problems are typically among the least reported issues. In other words, the key problem with regard to orientation was identified in the German higher education system, where one-quarter of respondents reported serious difficulties. Performance criteria during academic studies (18 percent), identification of prior school and research performance (15 percent), communication with university teachers (13 percent) and admission to university (12 percent) were other study-related issues.

“In particular students from North America and Latin America and from North Africa and the Middle East often refer to issues of orientation,” the study said.

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