International students

The world of higher education institutions is becoming more international than ever before. The Service Point for Intercultural Competence (SIK), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is committed to the issues of international students and supports the broadening of the institutions’ intercultural horizons. The counselling and advisory services of the Studierendenwerke (STW – public student service organisation) are decisive both for study success as well as for developing the social and intercultural experiences and skills of all students.


What we want

Deutsches Studierendenwerk (DSW – German National Association for Student Affairs) campaigns for a tolerant, open and culturally multifaceted higher education environment, thereby supporting the internationalisation of Germany as a location for higher education.

It promotes the friendly reception and integration of international students in Germany and the intercultural opening of the Studierendenwerke.

What we do

In order to attain these goals, the DSW has created a hub of expertise and information, the BMBF-funded Service Point for Intercultural Competence (SIK), which supports the intercultural opening of the institutions and the advisory and supervisory structures on site.

  • The SIK raises awareness...

    among relevant stakeholders for the interests of international students. (expands)

  • The SIK offers further training...

    We train those employees and tutors of the Studierendenwerke who advise and support international students on intercultural topics.

  • The SIK supports...

    the development of the counselling and advisory service for international students.

  • The SIK offers a forum...

    During our specialist seminars we explore current topics on the situation of international students in Germany with the Studierendenwerke and international offices of German higher education institutions.

  • The SIK communicates...

    We publish flyers and brochures on intercultural topics and report on initiatives and projects designed to integrate international students. We are available to answer your queries.

Relevant figures on international students

International mobility

  • 6.4 million students are internationally mobile worldwide.
  • Germany is an internationally attractive location for students and occupies third place as a host country, behind the USA and Great Britain.

International students in Germany

  • In the 2022/23 winter semester, a total of around 368,000 international students were studying at higher education institutions in Germany. The proportion of international students has increased by 5% within one year.
  • In international comparison, the international student body is heterogeneous in terms of countries of origin: China, India, Syria, Austria, Turkey, Iran, Russia, Italy, Cameroon, Egypt.
  • The proportion of international students who aim to get a qualification in Germany is very high, at around 93%.
  • As part of the Social Survey (the student survey in Germany), data on the economic and social situation of the international student body in Germany is regularly gathered.

Core findings on the international student body from the 22nd social survey

The 22nd social survey, which was carried out in the 2021 summer semester, gives an insight into the economic framework and social situation of students in Germany. A total of around 188,000 students took part in the survey – around 15% of them were international students.

  • Studying in Germany

    Possible reasons for choosing to study in Germany are the high quality of living, the desire to work in Germany after your studies, the economic framework of Germany and the desire to get to know Germany better.

    The following aspects are more important for international students than for German students when choosing where to study: Ranking of the subject; tradition and reputation of the higher education institution; international focus of the higher education institution; possibility to study part time; advice & support offers specific to the respective higher institution.

    Only around 60% of international students feel (very) welcome in Germany; 80% feel (very) safe in Germany. 78% would recommend Germany as a place to study.

  • Previous education and recognition of academic achievements

    70% of the international students asked come from academically educated families (vs. 56% of German students).

    50% already have a bachelor’s degree when they begin their studies in Germany. 24% do not have any experience with higher education studies. 12% already have a second degree (e.g. master’s). 10% have already started higher education studies in their country of origin. 9% attend a Studienkolleg (further education college for international applicants) in Germany.

    For 75% of them, their foreign educational qualifications or study credits are fully recognised; for 15% of them, these are partly recognised. For 5% of them, earlier credits are not recognised.

  • Student life

    Only 51% of international students have jobs or are working during their studies, possibly because they lost their part-time job due to the pandemic, because of residence requirements or because they tend to come more often from an academic family or are supported by grant programmes. On average, the students who have jobs work 15 hours per week.

    Finding accommodation is often a problem for international students: 39% have applied for an apartment several times without success.

    A shared apartment (flat share) is the most popular form of accommodation for international students with 38%; 31% live alone and 22% live with a (life) partner. International students make up a considerable proportion of those living in residence halls, at around 35%. However, only 61% are satisfied with their housing situation.

  • Difficulties and support

    At 88.5%, international students have a high need for advice, especially regarding financial issues such as funding of studies, housing or health insurance. There is also a need for advice on how to combine studies with raising children, the lack of personal contacts, work organization and time management, learning problems/exam anxiety, managing studies and work at the same time and on depressive moods.

  • Further reading

The background of the survey

The social survey carried out by Deutsches Studierendenwerk is the largest survey of students with the longest tradition in Germany. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and scientifically implemented by the Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung (DZHW).


Contact persons

Isabelle Kappus

Head of department

Judith Gasch

Project employee

Michaela Gustke

Project employee

Laura Kalwert

Project employee


Deutsches Studierendenwerk e.V.

Servicestelle Interkulturelle Kompetenz
Monbijouplatz 11
10178 Berlin

Tel.: 030 29 77 27 -71/ -75
Email: [email protected]


SIK website

Service Point for Intercultural Competence

Establishing a culture of welcome for international students: this is the task of the Service Point for Intercultural Competence (SIK) with its comprehensive programme of information, advice and further training. A grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) makes this possible.


Services for international students

The 57 Studentenwerke and Studierendenwerke in Germany ensure that students are offered more than just a research and teaching programme at their university, and that they feel comfortable and welcome here. They shape the framework conditions of higher education studies and take into account the diversity of the students.


SIK Publications

The Service Point for Intercultural Competence (SIK) supports and presents the intercultural work of the Studierendenwerke with regular publications.

Read more…

SIK Events

Intercultural competence is decisive when you are dealing with students and the employees who work in higher education. Therefore the Service Point offers intercultural training courses and seminars for employees of the Studierendenwerke and higher education institutions.