Fewer births in Germany in the years after 1990 mean a decline in first-year students. But for the first time the trend has now been broken. This is because of an Asian country.
For the first time since 2018, more first-semester students have enrolled at universities and colleges in Germany. According to preliminary figures from the Federal Statistical Office, there were 402,617 first-year students in the 2023/2024 winter semester, an increase of 1.1 percent compared to the previous year, as reported by the Center for University Development (CHE) in Gütersloh. The reason is an increase in first-year students from India.
According to an analysis by the CHE, the number has stabilized because significantly more people from abroad want to study in Germany. “The slight increase in first-semester students can be explained primarily by a record number of foreign first-year students,” explains CHE project manager Marc Hüsch. At the beginning of the corona pandemic, the number of foreign first-year students fell significantly, but that has changed again. However, detailed figures are so far only available for the winter semester 2022/2023.
Foreign first-year students from Asia – India at the forefront
At that time, more than 40 percent of the 93,000 foreign first-year students came from Asia. At that time, 11,733 freshmen from India took the top spot. China is in second place with 5,661 first-year students. An opposite trend can be seen here. The number of new students from India has been rising sharply for years, while the number from China has been declining.
The previous high was over ten years ago with 445,000 in the winter semester of 2011/2012. Ten years later the number was below 400,000 for the first time. One reason for the downward trend is the decline in birth rates in Germany between 1990 and 2011.
When it comes to the choice of subjects, two trends continue: In mechanical engineering/process engineering, the number of first-year students has halved since 2011/2012, while computer science is reporting sustained growth, according to the CHE evaluation.
The CHE is a joint subsidiary of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the University Rectors’ Conference.
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