Majority of students leave East Germany after graduating

Majority of students leave East Germany after graduating

Although world-class universities and minimal tuition fees have always made Germany an attractive place to study, an increasing number of students are heading to the east of the country, where student accommodation is cheaper and admission requirements are lower. Once graduated, however, these students are the most likely to take their newly-gained qualifications elsewhere.

Negative “emigration balance” in East Germany

According to a newly-published joint study by recruitment company Studitemps and the University of Maastricht, students in the east of Germany are overwhelming choosing to move away after graduation. For example, the study found that just under two-thirds (64 percent) of university students in Saxony-Anhalt plan to move away once they have completed their studies. In Brandenburg, 57 percent want to leave after graduating and in Thuringia the figure is 49 percent.

The study interviewed around 18.700 students and graduates nationwide to calculate a so-called “emigration balance” for each federal state. This measure sets the number of university graduates who leave the federal state for their first job against the number of graduates who come to the federal state for employment. States with positive emigration balances have more graduates looking for jobs than study places.

Western states profiting from eastern education

Unsurprisingly, the states containing Germany’s major cities invariably had a positive migration balance. The city-state of Hamburg came out on top, with a balance of 160 percent. Berlin, the only state in eastern Germany which didn’t have a negative migration balance, came in second with a score of 78 percent. The southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg also exert a strong pull on Germany’s graduates.

“The East loses a huge amount of graduates, while city-states and economically strong regions win”, explains Studitemps boss Eckhard Köhn. The results are indicative, he argues, of the unequal distribution of finances between Germany’s federal states. Every student who is educated in a particular state costs that state money. When they move away, they take that investment with them. This amounts to a disproportionate financial burden for the eastern federal states.

Emigration balance results in all federal states

The scores for all 16 federal states in Germany were as follows:



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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