One-third of international students stay in Germany long-term, study finds

One-third of international students stay in Germany long-term, study finds

While the debate over how Germany can attract more skilled workers from abroad rages on, a new study has highlighted how welcoming international students is not only beneficial to universities in the short term but also has a long-term positive effect on the labour market. Germany has one of the highest foreign student retention rates in the OECD. 

Large proportion of international students remain in Germany long-term

According to new figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), between 2006 and 2021, 612.000 residence permits were issued to people wishing to come and study in Germany. Of the 184.200 students who received residence permits between 2006 and 2011, 48 percent were still living in Germany after five years and 38 percent were still in the country after 10 years, according to the Central Register of Foreigners.

Destatis compared this rate to recent evaluations from the OECD to conclude that the percentage of international students who stay long-term in Germany is similar to that in Canada, making it one of the highest rates among OECD countries. 

A breakdown of the numbers shows that most international students who received study permits between 2006 and 2011 had Chinese nationality (36.000 people). Of these, 29 percent were still in Germany after 10 years. American students were the next biggest category, with 13.000, and 14 percent were still living in Germany after 10 years. Almost half (47 percent) of Russian nationals stayed longer than 10 years, and 28 percent of Turkish students. 

50 percent have work permits or citizenship after 10 years

The figures show how international students who remain in Germany long-term go on to make a vital contribution to the labour market: 32 percent who were still living in Germany after 10 years had a temporary residence permit for employment. A further 28 percent had German citizenship, while 21 percent had a residence permit for family reasons. 

A particularly large number of students from Cameroon went on to pass the naturalisation test and get their German passport: 50 percent had citizenship after 10 years. Students from Brazil (34 percent) and India (32 percent) were also particularly likely to become naturalised citizens. 

Only a small minority of international students who stayed in Germany after 10 years were looking for a job or had leave to remain for humanitarian or political reasons. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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