As Germany’s population shrinks due to the retirement of the older generation, the labour market and economy face immense pressure. Nonetheless, the country’s excellent education system, abundant career opportunities, and cosmopolitan society have positioned it as the top non-English speaking study destination for international students. This expanding group has significant potential to rejuvenate Germany’s workforce.
This edition of the Fintiba Insights Paper examines how to better support international students through their integration journey into German society as well as in bridging the skills gap.
The study results in full are available for download here.
About the survey
Between July and September 2022 we asked our customers about their integration situation in Germany. In total 9,106 international students and expats from 126 different countries contributed to delivering insights about the integration of internationals in Germany.
of the internationals felt that they lived in an international and diverse environment.
of students intend to stay in Germany after graduation, while 37% were undecided
of the surveyed internationals felt well integrated in Germany – suggesting there is substantial room for improvement.
Which opportunities for integration do internationals have in Germany?
The survey also found that students who participated in extracurricular activities (41%) felt better integrated. Extracurricular activities provide students with great opportunities to learn new skills, widen their network of contacts, and make new friends. However, the majority (59%) are unfortunately missing out on crucial chances to explore, network, and integrate more fully.
Do you take part in any extracurricular activities?
Fellow students, neighbours, and colleagues were among the top five integration enablers. These results show that these individuals play a crucial role in facilitating successful integration and indicate that internationals are more inclined to reciprocate by being engaged community members when society is open and inclusive.
Which of the following have made it easier for you to integrate?
An additional key pillar of successful integration is having a good command of the German language. The survey results showed that the greater their proficiency in German, the more integrated a respondent felt.
Which challenges do internationals typically face while integrating into Germany?
While learning German is a crucial component of successful integration, unfortunately, nearly 65% of the respondents faced language and communication barriers during their integration journey.
What challenges did you face while trying to integrate?
Approximately a fifth of the respondents indicated that they encountered difficulties with the immigration authorities, which made integration harder for them. Additionally, 17% of international students reported a lack of support from their universities as an obstacle to their integration journey.
Which of the following have made it harder for you to integrate?
What does successful integration mean for international students in Germany?
International students who felt more integrated were more inclined to stay in Germany upon finishing their studies. This presents a great opportunity for the German labour market to attract qualified professionals.
The survey results suggest that respondents who felt more integrated were also better prepared to start a career and enjoyed a smoother job search. Almost 80% of respondents indicated that they felt “very prepared” to “somewhat prepared” to begin working in Germany, which indicates a positive outlook for the labour market.
There are numerous integration possibilities available to international students and expats but unfortunately, internationals do not seem to take full advantage of these opportunities. Therefore, it is crucial to highlight that integration is primarily a personal responsibility. On the other hand, it is also important to emphasize that a welcoming and inclusive society plays an equally fundamental role in empowering integration.
Tips for international students and expats
For international students
Make an effort to learn German before arriving in Germany and continue to improve your German after arrival. Aim for business-level proficiency (min. B2) to ease your job search.
Set aside some time to take part in the extracurricular activities provided by your university, which are typically free and offer an excellent opportunity to interact with both international and German students.
If you can, participate in your university’s orientation week to meet other international students and receive an instant grasp of Germany, your city, and your university
For expats and job seekers
Take the time to acquaint yourself with the job application process, which includes understanding the specific German style for crafting CVs, cover letters, and interview etiquette.
Expand your understanding of living and working in Germany, as well as German work culture, by exploring informative websites and blogs such as Fintiba’s “Working in Germany” articles or the Make it in Germany website.
If you already studied in Germany, take the opportunity to engage in networking events, alumni meetups, and career fairs as a way to expand your social and professional circles.