Germany ranks eighth in a list of most popular countries to study in, after USA and United Kingdom. Over 300 000 foreign students were enrolled in German universities in 2013/14 winter semester corresponding to 11.5% of total students.
Teaching has likewise become international with almost 90% of university courses adapted to bachelor and master degrees common in most countries. The 6 000 bachelor and 5 000 master programmes include about 1 000 English-language programmes and some in French, Italian and Chinese. Many post-graduate programmes and graduate schools also target top performers from abroad.
Further, statistics from the German rectors' conference reveal that 394 (of 423) German universities cooperate with international universities. The university of Freiburg leads with 554 international cooperation projects, followed by Ludwig-Maximilians university of Munich and the university of Heidelberg. Some 16 universities maintain more than 400 partnership projects, another 10 maintain between 300 and 400. These are only tips of the iceberg in terms of education partnerships.
In 2013 alone, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funded visits abroad for almost 70 000 German and 50 000 foreign students and researchers.
Germany does not view internationalisation of education as a ‘one-way street’. The research and academic relations initiative launched in 2009 has introduced many new aspects of exchange with promotion of academic partnerships, German houses of science and innovation and centres of excellence, quite consciously also in regions undergoing transformation and suffering from conflict.
In addition, many German universities take part in developing German university courses and establishing German-style universities abroad in Egypt, China, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Singapore, Hungary, Vietnam and, since 2014, in Turkey.
German school-leavers who choose not to study usually follow a dual vocational education and training (VET) programme. Dual denotes combination of two to three-and-a-half years of practical training in a company and parallel theoretical education at a vocational school.
German dual VET has likewise developed into a successful education export. The format is regarded as a remedy against youth unemployment that is so rampant in Europe, although at a low rate in Germany. Besides EU countries, China, India, Russia and South American countries are showing interest in this model. In total, Germany has concluded 40 bilateral VET cooperation agreements. Often, implementation involves German embassies, chambers of commerce abroad and German businesses.
The fact the German government is investing more than ever in education and research is further proof of the high value placed on education and science in Germany. The 2014 budget increased to over EUR 14 billion, EUR 313 million more than in 2013.
In their coalition agreement, the government parties CDU/CSU and SPD have agreed to increase the federal government's education expenses by an additional EUR 6 billion by 2017. Additional funds are intended to relieve federal states, which carry the main responsibility for education in Germany, and make more money available for investments in schools and universities. Many challenges remain alongside pride in a good education system and successful launch into internationalisation: integration of migrants, permeability of the education system for children from socially-disadvantaged families, expansion of day schools and the question whether to have 12 or 13 years of school before graduating with a university entrance qualification.