Internationalization of Universities in Shrinking Communities (December 2017 – March 2019)

In Germany, a growing number of universities is affected by general demographic decline and the ensuing drop in domestic students. At the same time, the number of international students is on the rise, totalling more than 280,000 in 2018, or 10 percent of the country’s student population.

In this project, SVR’s Research Unit took a closer look at universities which are already experiencing a decline in their domestic student intake, many of which are located in shrinking communities. By analyzing how these universities recruit and prepare international students, this project aimed to assess the stabilizing capabilities of select internationalization practices. Since the number of shrinking communities – and, as a likely result, the number of shrinking universities – is projected to increase across Germany, this project aspired to shed light on how universities and higher education systems can increase the effectiveness of international student recruitment and improve their academic success.

The research project was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The results were published in March 2019.


Countering demographic decline – How Germany’s shrinking universities attract and retain international students

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