German Approach to International Education Could Help UK, Paper Says


A new paper suggests that although the higher education sector within the UK is more international overall than the equivalent sector in Germany, Germany continues to move forward while the UK is regressing.

The paper, “Keeping up with the Germans?: A comparison of student funding, internationalisation and research in UK and German universities,” looks into the differences between how the two countries handle these issues within the higher education sector.

“There are things the UK could learn from Germany on the calculation of the economic benefits of educating international students, as well as on post-study work and where policy responsibility for internationalising higher education should rest in government,” said author Nick Hillman.

One of the largest differences between the two systems has to do with how international students pay tuition.  Germany offers free tuition for all students who attend school in the country.  According to one American postgraduate student,  “When I found out that just like Germans I’m studying for free it was sort of mind blowing… lt was a wow moment for me.”

Although Germany is a less popular destination for international students than the UK, the paper maintains that the country’s “more welcoming approach” carries with it a healthier attitude concerning the effect that international students have on their host country, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.

According to the German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD, if only 30% of international students were to remain in the country and work for at least 5 years, it would pay for the cost of educating all the international students in the country.  The UK on the other hand largely considers it to be negative that so many international students are remain in the country, numbering about one in five.

Hillman writes that Germany is able to offer free education for all of its students solely because fewer of its citizens enroll in higher education, and that the country spends less on each student than the UK does.  While 48% of citizens between the ages of 25 and 34 hold a degree in the UK, only 27% do in Germany.

“The trouble with making policy by looking at other countries is that it always becomes a bit simplistic,” Mr Hillman said. “People always imply that other countries have off-the-shelf solutions and, if only policymakers in the UK were more intelligent, they would just implement them.  My analysis suggests that Germany doesn’t provide the answer for opponents of fees that people sometimes think it does.”