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Germany: Number of People Qualified to Enter Higher Education Drops Among Germans & Rises Among Foreigners


The number of persons eligible to enter tertiary education in Germany dropped by 2.1 per cent last year, accounting for 8,300 fewer people qualified to enter universities or similar training programmes compared to 2020.

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), the number of this category of students reached a total of 385,000 in 2021, with the majority being German students (53.4 per cent or 250,090). The authority has attributed these results partially to demographic facts, reports.

“As of December 31, 2021, the number of people in the relevant age group (17-19 years) had decreased by 0.6 per cent from a year earlier [2021],” Destatis says in a statement.

Data from the same source also shows that the proportion of foreign nationals in Germany who were qualified to enter higher education has surged gradually, and in 2021 they represented 16 per cent of all students that are eligible for attaining tertiary education.

Moreover, foreign students now represent almost the same number of qualified students as they did six years ago (16.1 per cent in 2015), showing strong indications of recovery. These rates among foreign students were the lowest in 2019 (14.5 per cent), which was followed by a 0.9 per cent increase in the following year (15.4 per cent in 2020) and a decrease of 0.8 per cent compared to the preceding year (15.3 per cent in 2018).

The claim that the number of people qualified to attain higher education level is related to demographic changes can be valid as both increases and decreases are related to migration flows, such as the one that occurred in 2015 and 2016, when 2.14 million immigrants were in Germany, as data from Statista reveals.

On the other hand, the share of German counterparts eligible to enter higher education has decreased throughout the years, and based on the data’s timeline, it is headed on a downward trend.

More specifically, Germans represented 53.4 per cent of all people qualified to enter universities in 2021, down from 53.8 per cent recorded in 2021 (-0.4 per cent) and a further 1.6 per cent fewer than in 2020, while a 4.4 per cent decrease was recorded in 2021 compared to 2017 levels, which represented the largest share of German students eligible to enter tertiary education between 2015 and 2021.

In conclusion, the number of students that are eligible for higher education in the country has decreased by 0.4 per cent – from 48.8 per cent to 48.4, and another 0.5 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels (49.3 per cent in 2019). However, the data show that the number of students that are qualified enough to pursue academic careers in Germany is decreasing every year, as it has marked a 2.5 per cent between 2016 and 2021.