In a notable shift, Indian students have emerged as the predominant group of international students in Germany, outpacing China with a remarkable 107% increase over the past four years. According to a report by Studying-in-Germany.org, the number of Indian students in Germany surged from 20,562 in 2019 to an impressive 42,578 in 2023. However, this surge faces a new challenge as the Technical University of Munich (TUM) plans to reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU students starting from the winter semester of 2024/225. These fees, ranging from €2,000-6,000 per semester, have sparked discussions about their impact on Indian students and the international student landscape in Germany.
Indian Students Shine in Germany
Speaking with The Free Press Journal, Dhanashree Deodhar, Regional Officer of the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service, emphasized the diversity that will persist in the international student landscape in Germany despite the surge of Indian students. She praised the welcoming nature of Germany towards Indian students, citing their sincerity, brilliance, and language proficiency.
Surbhi Patil, a Master’s student in Geoscience at the University of Cologne, highlighted the affordability of tuition fees as a crucial factor for Indian students choosing Germany for higher education. She underlined the cost-effective nature of education in Germany compared to other countries, coupled with opportunities for part-time work, providing financial support and practical experience alongside studies.
Cultural Exchange and Collaboration
With India leading as the primary source of international students in Germany, efforts are being made to enhance cultural exchange and collaboration between students from diverse backgrounds. Dhanashree Deodhar mentioned the focus on skill migration and discussions about joint and dual degree programs between Indian and German universities. The introduction of the National Education Policy (NEP) has further paved the way for these collaborations, with the DAAD providing regular support to students through information and guidance on applications and funding schemes.
However, Pratima Sawant, a Ph.D. student in Physics at Gottingen, highlighted the significant impact of language barriers on the student experience, particularly in non-English-speaking countries like Germany. She expressed concerns about the need to start from scratch in terms of scientific and technical terminology, unlike in India where higher education predominantly occurs in English.
Reintroduction of Tuition Fees
As Bavaria universities plan to reintroduce tuition fees for non-EU students, Dhanashree explained that German universities’ autonomy and federal governance contribute to the fee structure. The fees aim to improve study conditions, support services, and infrastructure, creating opportunities for waivers and scholarship programs for outstanding students.
However, Pratima Sawant expressed opposition, deeming it unfair and impractical, as high living costs and substantial tuition fees pose financial challenges that part-time jobs may not adequately address.
Impact on Enrolment
Regarding the potential impact on the enrolment of Indian students in Germany, Dhanashree believes that despite the reintroduction of fees, the cost of education remains affordable and economical compared to other destinations. She asserts that students will continue to receive high-quality education at a reasonable cost.
Top 5 Reasons to Study in Germany
Dhanashree Deodhar outlined five compelling reasons for Indian students to consider studying in Germany:
- Economical cost of education: Minimal or no tuition fees in most German states. You only need to pay a small charge, the semester contribution between 100 and 350 euros.
- Practical approach: German education system combines theory and practice.
- Security and stability: Germany’s reputation as one of the safest countries.
- Abundant job opportunities: In the world’s fourth-largest economy.
- Generous stay-back period: A 1.5-year stay-back period for graduates to find qualified jobs or pursue further studies.
Surbhi Patil emphasized the enriching academic journey and future prospects in research and innovation, praising Germany’s comprehensive learning experience and international collaborations that contribute significantly to professional networking. She said, “The rigorous coursework and thoughtfully designed modules engage students both theoretically and practically, fostering a comprehensive learning experience. Actively participating in ongoing research projects, integrated into various modules, has been instrumental in honing our skills and deepening our understanding within the field.”