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New DAAD Survey Points Out Problems Faced by International Students in Germany

International Students in Germany who are yet to start their studies believe themselves to be underprepared, according to a new study conducted by the SeSaBa project.

The SeSaBa project recently did scrutiny on the international study sector in Germany and all levels of it. The project was initiated by DAAD at FernUniversität in Hagen under the leadership of Julia Zimmermann.

The report findings reflected a multitude of problems faced and stated by international students, such as academic competency, language skills, effective learning strategies and everyday life in foreign countries.

On the linguistic skills requirement, international students were found stating that there is a huge discrepancy between officially required levels and actual skill requirements to study. The area most affected by incapable language skills is the Final Thesis stage where students are unable to even write their dissertations. Even though institutions provide language support, students are so engrossed in academics, accommodation and dealing with authorities that the matter takes a backseat.

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Moreover, in times of difficulties, international students tend to go to their peers due to familiarity. This practice is especially prevalent in early semesters. Even though this leads to certain collective problems, in the beginning, a strong international peer group also eventually helps in successfully coping with academic and non-academic challenges.

The international student sector in Germany suffers a lot from students dropping out of their enrolled programs. The project research finds that while Bachelor’s students do so out of financial difficulty and Masters students opt for the same due to unsatisfactory study conditions and the absence of practical jobs.

Theresa Thies, Bayerisches Staatsinstitut für Hochschulforschung und Hochschulplanung (IHF), observed that the initial years of studies are funded by parents and as student job boards help students on finding good jobs, the average annual budget requirement decreases and so does the reliance on parental funding, but their personal financial pressure increases.

According to the report’s findings, 76% of Masters students intend to stay in Germany after course completion while only 42% of Bachelors students showed the same intentions. Thies, in her PhD thesis, observed that 57% of Masters students reflect these desires within their first year of study.

As a solution to problems found Zimmermann suggested that universities perfect their support programs on dynamic levels. In order to do so, all aspects of an international student’s life other than academic competencies must also be included. She stated that housing, finances, cultural adjustment and support of domestic students are similarly impactful on an international student as academics.

Also Read: International Education Market Expected to Reach USD 433 bn by 2030

Jan Kercher, a DAAD official, stated that international students need to enquire carefully before choosing between private agencies and private preparatory colleges. The international students’ market provides a great opportunity to make a huge profit in a short time and many providers take advantage of this by duping students into putting in a large chunk of their finances into meaningless activities even before starting their studies.

He also observed that Germany is among the host countries with a large number of hefty scholarships for international students. However, this only calls for students to make a private enquiry whether the scholarship offer or program actually exists or not. He urged students to put more effort into financial planning and avoid unnecessary and avoidable expenses. 

He further commented that many providers certify students as highly skilled in language when it is not the case. This leads to successful admission but the inability to cope with the actual demands of the study program.

Kercher observed that Germany has the most generous post-study stay back (18-month residence) regulations for international students to find a job, which must be utilised properly. He advised the students desiring to stay and work in Germany to work on their linguistic skills while studying only so that they can denote their stay back solely to job hunting.

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