Another Rising Star in the World of Overseas Study

255px-Flag_of_Germany.svgGermany is gaining in popularity among growing numbers of young Vietnamese.  What’s not to like?  The prospect of a very inexpensive, world-class education in a country known for its stability, safety, strong and sustainable economy, and superb quality of life. All they have to do is study and master German, no small undertaking in a country in which the most popular foreign languages are English and East Asian languages.

Unlike other countries, Germany’s immigration policy is visionary, having long since recognized the stark and urgent reality that its population is graying (median age: 46.5 years, the 2nd oldest in the world, after Japan) and that it needs to attract sizable numbers of young foreigners who are well-educated in key fields and who like the idea of calling Germany home.

logo.make-it-in-germanyThe Make it in Germany initiative is a great example of a country rolling out the red carpet for individuals from selected countries with selected areas of expertise.  The website is in 12 languages, including Vietnamese, which gives you an idea of Germany’s priorities in terms of sending countries.  High priority professionals include doctors, engineers, scientists and IT specialists, and experts with vocational qualifications

According to the German government, there are nearly 5,800 Vietnamese students in Germany, including 3,588 at a university, 2,181 at a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen), 20 at an art school, 3 at a teachers’ training college, and 2 at a school of theology. The most popular states – in descending order – are Berlin, Saxony, Bavaria, and Hessen.  (These data and much more are available hereNote:  The information is in German.)

As someone who has studied, taught, and conducted research in Germany, both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I encourage more Vietnamese young people to consider this dynamic and innovative country as a place in which to study and, if they wish, work and live for the long term.  The benefits are definitely mutual.



Make it in Germany

A Multilingual “Welcome to Germany” Portal for International Qualified Professionals

Germany is tied with Japan as the “oldest” country in the world with a median age of 46.1.  In a phrase “the Germans are dying out” (die Deutschen sterben aus).  It’s estimated that the population will shrink to 66 million by 2060 from a current population of about 83 million.  Since Germans are not having enough babies for various reasons that transcend one blog post , they have no choice but to compensate by encouraging the immigration of educated and qualified people from around the world. 

This includes a campaign called Make it in Germany, which has been translated into a number of languages, including Vietnamese, and customized.  (There’s even a sign language video.)  Other target countries include India, Indonesia, Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, Russia, Italy, Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries (Brazil?) and Serbia.  The website has various entry points for people interesting in working, studying, traveling, research or starting a business.  It also features a section with “I made it” success stories, in addition to detailed information about in-demand professions, living in Germany, learning the language, etc.  .

make it in germanyHere is the introduction and overview of this website, which characterizes it as a “‘Welcome to Germany’ portal for international qualified professionals”.

“Make it in Germany” is the multilingual “Welcome to Germany” portal for international qualified professionals. It is run by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. “Make it in Germany” informs qualified professionals who are interested in immigrating about their career prospects and shows them how to organise their move to Germany – and what makes it worthwhile to live and work here. The portal posts current vacancies in occupations where there is a labour shortage and provides information about the sectors in search of skilled workers. There are also presentations by international qualified professionals who have already forged a successful career for themselves here, while employers in Germany can get tips on how to go about recruiting skilled professionals from abroad.

In actual fact, “Make it in Germany” is more than just an information portal – it is the expression of a whole “culture of welcome”. It portrays Germany as a modern, diverse society and helps convey the friendly, cosmopolitan nature of the country.

The Vietnamese version, which is being actively promoted on various social media channels in Vietnam, features Tung, a business software development engineer from Hanoi, who lives and works in Giessen, Germany.  (I like the pretzel and the beer – nice touch.  Makes me hungry & thirsty.  :-))


Make it in Germany is a bold and exciting initiative that recognizes the reality that the country’s population is graying and that future success will be the result of attracting international qualified professionals.  It rolls out the virtual red carpet to those individuals who might have an interest in studying and/or working and living in Germany.

While the median age of the US is lower (36.8 years), its economy desperately needs a certain percentage of international students, for example, to stay, work and, ultimately, emigrate.  (One reason is not enough native-born US Americans are studying key subjects, e.g., STEM fields.)  While emigration is possible, it is not yet policy, hence the third student visa criterion about returning to one’s home country, which often ends up being a hoop that applicants have to jump through in order to get the visa.

clock is tickingKudos to Germany for launching the Make it in Germany initiative.  The US should follow in its footsteps in order to align its immigration policy with the fast-changing realities of the US and global labor market.  Is anyone in DC watching, listening and learning?  Tick-tock, tick-tock.


Foreign enrolment in German universities reaches record high

icef monitorYes, this is from July 2014 but it’s still interesting and worth sharing.  🙂  As someone who has spent considerable time in Germany, including as a student, I agree with points made in this ICEF Monitor article.

Germany ranked 10th among Vietnamese studying overseas in 2013 with 4,600 students.  Since there are not many young Vietnamese studying German, despite the best efforts of the Goethe Institute in Hanoi and the German Mission in Vietnam, the growth in the number of programs offered in English will give more Vietnamese students the opportunity to study in Germany.

Below is an excerpt.  Follow this link to read the rest of the article.


Germany is well on its way to an ambitious goal of hosting 350,000 foreign university students by 2020. The latest figures released this month by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) reveal that 300,909 foreign students were enrolled in German universities in 2013/14, representing roughly 10% of the total higher education enrolment in Germany this year. This compares to 282,000 international students in 2013, and is up from 246,000 students a decade ago.

This growing enrolment base places Germany among the top study destinations in the world, after the US and UK certainly, but contending with China, France, and Australia for the number three rank among major global destinations.

”Germany is an exceptionally attractive place to study and research. This is also the result of our global information and marketing activities for higher education in Germany,” said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel. DAAD maintains a network of 70 branch offices worldwide and supports a wide network of lecturers and German studies centres as well.

DAAD reports that engineering degrees and graduate studies are some of the areas of greatest demand. Roughly 55% of Germany’s international students are from Europe. Another 30% are from Asia and 6% come from North America. The prospect of learning German may be daunting for some but the challenge is eased by the fact that as many as 1,600 programmes at German universities are taught in English.

As is the case for other major destinations, China is the number one source of foreign students in Germany. However, German institutions are reporting strong enrolment growth from South Asia – India and Bangladesh in particular – as well as Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Speaking to Student World Online, Chinese student Tianjue Li said, “People enjoy an outstanding quality of life here, with food security, a clean environment, well-covered health insurance, freedom of speech, etc. Yet the reason why a great number of Chinese students go abroad for study is mainly because of their dissatisfaction with the domestic education system, the leading standard of higher education in Western countries, and the globalisation in China right now.”

German Education Minister Johanna Wanka echoes Tianjue Li’s point regarding the importance of internationalisation: “Excellent education needs international exchange and the basis for that are universities which are open to the world and in which everyone from professors to administrators to students provides a welcoming environment.”

A commitment to affordability

Germany certainly qualifies as welcoming. Education News notes that the vast majority of university students in Germany attend public institutions, where tuition fees are either strikingly affordable or non-existent. “A German student at a public university will pay US$300 to US$2,000 in fees,” notes Education News. “A four-year public college in the US will charge US$8,893 for in-state students and US$22,203 for out-of-state students…In Germany, tuition fees are not applicable. In 2005, several German state universities tried to charge tuition fees, albeit small ones, but the public voted it down. The only universities that still charge tuition will stop doing so at the end of 2014.”

Dr Herbert Grieshop of Freie Universität Berlin speaks to the different motivations that German institutions have to build their international student numbers: “Despite the fact that we don’t charge fees in Germany – and therefore don’t have any financial gains from foreign students – we actively recruit internationally, particularly at Master’s and Doctoral level. We believe that internationalisation of teaching, research and of our campus as a whole is a step forward and will also help to solve the demographic issue that universities in Germany will have to face rather soon.”

DAAD notes that even with the minimal fees charged, the economic impact of the sector is nevertheless substantial. Foreign students in Germany spent an estimated €1.5 billion in 2011, and generated tax revenues of roughly €400 million.