Zur Deutschen Version

Foreign first-year students

Foreign first-year students are males or females who are nationals or another country (not Germany) or have no nationality (stateless) and who are enrolled in their first academic semester at a German higher education institution.

A foreigner who enrols at a German higher education institution for the first time is registered by the official higher education statistics as a first-year student - i.e. as a student in the 1st academic semester - regardless of whether he/she is commencing the studies in Germany or is continuing a course of studies started abroad.

The definition for students in their 1st full study semester covers both first-year students - that is students in their 1st academic semester - as well as continuing students - i.e. students who have changed their academic subject or degree programme and are enrolled in the 1st semester of the new subject but have already spent several academic semesters enrolled in higher education. They are - slightly confusingly - also called first-year students (in the 1st full study semester).

German first-year students are mainly male or female students in their 1st academic and 1st full study semester. Foreign first-year students are more likely to be male or female students in their 1st academic semester and in a higher full study semester. This is the case when academic achievements gained abroad are recognised and credited as full study semesters by the German higher education institution when students apply for such recognition and credit. Not all foreign students submit such applications.

The data from the official higher education statistics do not yet make it possible to determine unequivocally how many and which foreign first-year students in Germany were already or are currently enrolled at a foreign higher education institution, because - in contrast to the set definitions - such information is incompletely or inconsistently recorded by higher education institutions, both for German and foreign students.

As a rule, the number of first-year students is recorded for an academic year - summer semester and subsequent winter semester - because students can commence their studies at a German higher education institution in the summer and in the winter semester. Since the mid 1990s, foreign first-year students have been differentiated into two separate categories, namely Bildungsauslaender first-year students and Bildungsinlaender first-year students.

see: Foreign students

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