Germany told to get friendly

June 25, 1999

Hamburg

German universities must be more welcoming to foreign students, says a poll by the national student organisation Deutsche Studentenwerk (DSW) and the federal education ministry.

Foreign students from non-European countries reported difficulties gaining visas, residence and work permits in Germany. They say the authorities should be less bureaucratic in recognising qualifications from other countries, and they want Germany to offer more international courses and globally recognised bachelors and masters degrees. Half of all the foreign students interviewed for the study said that, given the choice, they would have preferred to have studied in a different country.

DSW general secretary Dieter Schaefterbarthold said this shows that "attempts made up to now to improve the situation of foreign students need to be intensified".

There are 158,000 foreigners studying in Germany, but one-third of them are children of immigrant "guest workers" who went to secondary school in Germany.

The largest proportion of European students comes from France (13 per cent), followed by Greece, Austria and Italy. The largest groups from economically developing countries are from Poland (9.2 per cent), Turkey, Iran, Russia and China.

The DSW said Germany would also become a more attractive destination for foreign students if it improved their financial situation.

The study found that only a quarter have been awarded a scholarship and that 60 per cent of students from developing countries are paying for their studies themselves, working on average nine hours a week.

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