Germany eyes market for foreign postgraduates

January 23, 2003

Germany is to try to attract more top postgraduate students from around the world in an effort to compete with universities in France, the US and the UK.

Berlin's drive coincides with a renewed effort by Sweden to recruit international students - aided by a largely tuition-fee-free and English-language-friendly environment.

Figures compiled by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) reveal that a quarter of students completing PhDs at universities in France and the US come from abroad. The number rises to a third in the UK. The number of foreign postgraduate students in Germany lags behind at 7 per cent.

Theodor Berchem, president of the DAAD, said German universities needed to increase their competitiveness. "We have to do everything we can in order to be able to play in the same league as the others," he said.

Munich University is the first institute to support the initiative, which is backed by the ministry for education in Berlin. It is hoped some 2,000 extra students could be accommodated by the project.

Emphasis is being placed on the creation of individual study paths for postgraduates.

Professor Berchem said more communication was needed between postgraduate students and tutors and more structure was required as well as an increased awareness of "internationality", which includes a wider choice of courses offered in various languages.

Most postgraduate courses are conducted in English, but "this shouldn't be the rule", according to Professor Berchem.

In Sweden, almost all of the 150 or so masters programmes are taught in English. About 20 per cent of Sweden's university students are from non-Swedish backgrounds.


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