In a surprising turn of events, Indian students have become the largest group of international students in Germany, surpassing China with a staggering 107% surge in the past four years. According to a report by Studying-in-Germany.org, the number of Indian students in Germany skyrocketed from 20,562 in 2019 to 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 the impact on Indian students and the international student landscape in Germany.
Indian Students Shine in Germany
While speaking with The Free Press Journal Dhanashree Deodhar, Regional Officer of the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service says, the international student landscape in Germany will remain diverse despite the surge of Indian students. She emphasized the welcoming nature of Germany towards Indian students, praising their sincerity, brilliance, and language proficiency. She said, “Indian students have always been welcomed in Germany due to their sincerity, and brilliance in knowledge.” As the number of Indian students grows, so does the support infrastructure, with various associations and groups emerging to provide assistance and comfort to students.
Surbhi Patil, a Master's student in Geoscience at the University of Cologne, highlighted the affordability of tuition fees as a key factor for Indian students choosing Germany for higher education. She said, “Unlike Canada, where the cost for one year is around 23 lakhs, Germany offers a more cost-effective option, with I am estimating my master's expenses to be under 10 lakhs.” She emphasized the cost-effective nature of education in Germany compared to other countries, coupled with the opportunity 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, a Ph.D. student (name anonymous) from Gottingen University 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. She said, “Initially, grappling with the language posed a considerable challenge, especially when undertaking a master's program in German. The necessity to become well-versed in technical terminology in German added an extra layer of stress. Personally, I find it perplexing that such linguistic barriers exist.”
Further, she added, “In India, despite the multitude of languages, higher education predominantly occurs in English, facilitating seamless discussions and advancements in science. It seems counterintuitive that in order to study in a specific country, one must essentially start from scratch in terms of scientific or technical terminology.”
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, one of the students who talked to FPJ 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. She said, “The high living costs, coupled with substantial tuition fees, create financial challenges that part-time jobs alone 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:
1. Economical cost of education with 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.
2. Practical approach in the German education system, combining theory and practice.
3. Germany's reputation as one of the safest countries, offering security and stability.
4. Abundant job opportunities in the world's fourth-largest economy.
5. A generous 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.”