The new German immigration act for skilled staff has been welcomed by the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD. However, the organisation also points out that more has to be done to support international students, many of whom are eager to stay on in Germany after graduating.
The law enters into force in March and addresses people from third countries, ie non-European Union countries, who hold a vocational or academic degree and wish to work permanently in Germany.
“To us it is quite obvious that Germany’s industry as well as its higher education and research need academically and vocationally qualified people from non-European Union countries,” says DAAD President Joybrato Mukherjee. “But we must keep in mind that we need specialists with a higher education degree for a wide range of professions, such as physicians, IT specialists or engineers.”
Mukherjee maintains that this aspect calls for special attention by the federal government, which should, for example, work out measures to reduce the high drop-out rates of international students and make entering a profession easier, in cooperation with the state governments and the higher education funding organisations. After all, he stresses, around two-thirds of international graduates consider staying on and pursuing a career in Germany as an option.
“We, as the DAAD, are ready to support our member universities in matters concerning international students and graduates,” he maintains. “We see good opportunities here to apply tailored funding programmes, especially in the transition phase from studying to the labour market, but also for a successful start to studies and targeted support throughout them.”
Step up staffing
Mukherjee notes that the issue is being intensively discussed with the organisations and institutions funding DAAD’s activities. However, he also stresses the need to step up staffing of universities in the areas concerned.
While Germany has become increasingly attractive for international students, with around 100,000 new enrolments each year, DAAD has also repeatedly drawn attention to high drop-out rates among this group of students.
According to the Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung (DZHW or the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies), which carries out empirical research in the higher education sector, around 45% of international bachelor degree and 29% of international masters degree students drop out of their studies, compared to 28% and 19% of German students respectively.
DAAD is currently gathering insights on the study situation of foreign students in a joint project with the Bavarian State Institute for Higher Education Research and Planning and Hagen Correspondence University.
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