As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet on Monday and Tuesday for bilateral talks, they are expected to find a unique success story on Indo-German cooperation in higher education: the number of Indian students in Germany has more than doubled in the last five years.
This is one of the key takeaways Modi and Merkel will be looking to build on. “We are hoping to give this relationship a boost on the educational front during the PM’s trip,” a government source told The Indian Express.
According to German government’s data, 5,998 Indian students went to Germany for higher education in 2011-12. The number grew to 13,740 in 2015-16. These are figures compiled by Studentenstatistik Statistisches Bundesamt, German government’s agency for students’ statistics. The number, if compared with 2008-09, has risen four times. In fact, as per German Academic Exchange Service, Indians now form the second largest group of international students in German universities, after the Chinese.
Stephan Lanzinger, Counsellor at the German Embassy’s Science and Technology section, said, “About 10 years ago, Germany adopted a strategy for internationalisation of research and higher education. As a result, universities increased their activities abroad. Currently, there are around 400 partnership agreements between German and Indian universities.”
“In Germany, there are virtually no tuition fees, yet the quality of higher education is excellent. The cost of living is relatively low and the standard of living is high.”
The numbers suggest that for Indians, the most preferred subject in German universities is Engineering. Out of the 13,740 students in 2015-16, 9,882 opted for engineering.
In October 2015, when Merkel visited India, she and Modi had welcomed the rise in the number of Indian students in German Universities and had agreed to initiate a dialogue on ways to encourage this trend. “That has borne fruit, and today, we have a very robust linkage, especially in the face of US and UK visa curbs,” an Indian diplomat in Berlin said.
However, the reverse flow is extremely low. From a paltry 240 German students in Indian universities in 2001, the number went to 767 in 2015. “This is one area we need to work on,” the Indian diplomat said.