How to reduce the hurdles for international students on their way to Germany – a policy paper by Fintiba together with Stifterverband

Students from non-EU countries are slowed down by administrative hurdles on their way to studying in Germany. Every third of them arrives in Germany after the beginning of the semester. This was the result of a study published by the Stifterverband together with Fintiba. Earlier notifications of admission and digital measures could guarantee a smoother start of studies.


An increasing number of non-EU citizens want to study in Germany. In the 2017/2018 Winter Semester alone, there were almost 209,000 students. Most of them come from China, India and Russia. Late admission notifications from universities, long waiting times for visas, also time-consuming expenses for confirming language skills or health insurance make it difficult for them to have a smooth start at German universities. These are the results of the study “Ausgebremst statt durchgestartet” published by Stifterverband and Fintiba GmbH, a financial services provider for foreign students.

An analysis of the data of almost 900 non-EU citizens showed that more than half of them received the confirmation of their university acceptance less than three months before the start of their studies. The visa waiting times of more than 60 days on average alone mean that 38 percent of foreign students do not arrive in Germany until after the start of the semester. Once here, it takes an average of 25 days for students to register at the registration office and withdraw money from a blocked account set up specifically for their studies. The efforts of the universities to make it easier for precisely those students to start their studies by offering welcome weeks, orientation phases and language courses prior to their studies are futile.

Late entry has a significant impact on the success of studies. Missed opportunities to build up connections at university and missed study contents contribute to an increased drop-out rate among international students. The effects of this are far-reaching: universities have to fill study places with new students, student organisations have to reassign rooms in dormitories, from an economic point of view there are no potential specialists that Germany can win over for its labour market – not to mention the personal fates of the students and the families behind them.

In order to ensure a regular start of studies and to reduce the drop-out rate of foreign students, the Stifterverband, together with Fintiba GmbH, has drawn up five recommendations for action:

  • Universities should send their admission notifications as early as possible, at the latest 90 days before the start date of studies.
  • The coordination of the authorities involved in the visa process should be optimised and the whole process significantly accelerated.
  • Together with the student organisations, cities and universities should provide affordable housing especially for this group of students.
  • Opportunities to learn the German language already in the countries of origin must be improved – also digitally.
  • Digitisation offers opportunities to further increase transparency for administrative processes and to further reduce administrative costs. These should be used consistently.

On accordingly optimised digital platforms, foreign students would have the opportunity – bundled in one place and specific to the individual universities and regions – to find information on necessary forms and submission data from university application to registration at the authorities. This saves valuable time and would enable a successful start of studies.

Press Release Source: Stifterverband. Translated by Fintiba.


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