Berlin universities are extraordinarily international

October 10, 2019 | Berlin is a cosmopolitan metropolis. People from more than 190 countries live and work in the city. More and more young, talented people who would like to study here are drawn to Berlin. Meanwhile, Berlin has the highest share of international students across Germany. This is confirmed by the recently published report “Wissenschaft weltoffen 2019” from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).   

Around 17 percent of Berlin students are international. Or more specifically: They are foreign citizens and likewise obtained their university entrance qualification abroad. The term for this used by the German authorities is “Bildungsauslaender/innen.” The number 17 (or 16.6 percent) makes Berlin the nationwide leader – ahead of Saxony (13.9 percent) and Brandenburg (13.4 percent)”.

This is confirmed by the recently published report “Wissenschaft weltoffen 2019 from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). A total of 32,000 international students were enrolled at Berlin’s universities for the 2018/19 winter semester. Most come from countries of the European Union, from China, India, the USA, and Russia.

The scientific staff at Berlin’s universities is also markedly international: About 14 percent of the scientific employees in the capital had a foreign passport according to the 2018 DAAD report. This puts the capital in second place in this category nationwide – behind Saarland.

And another top spot went to Berlin: The city’s universities are also leading the funding ranking of the DAAD.  In total, they received 38 million euros from the DAAD in 2018 for exchange scholarships and international cooperation.

Michael Müller is also happy with good performance of the capital in terms of university internationalization: “Brain City Berlin is a place where the world comes together,” says the Governing Mayor of Berlin, who is also a Senator for Science and Research: “Our universities stand for free and open sciences, which know no borders and which deliberately rely on exchange and cooperation with partner institutions on all continents. Thanks to this strong international network, Berlin is also one of the most successful centers of innovation today. This benefits our entire city.” (vdo)

DAAD 2018 funding ranking: Additional top spots of Berlin’s universities

Universities category

1st Place: Freie Universität Berlin (9.5 m euro)
2nd Place:  Technische Universität Berlin (8.4 m euro)
4th Place: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (7.9 m euro)


Universities of Applied Sciences Category

6nd Place:  Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR) (1.5 m euro)
9th Place: HTW Berlin - University of Applied Sciences (1.1 m euro)


Major host universities for Erasmus exchange students in Germany 2017*

  • In 2017, 11.5 percent (2,500) of the Erasmus scholarship recipients in Germany chose Berlin as their place of study
  • The Freie Universität Berlin (2nd place) and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (4th place) are among the most popular universities.
  • The Berlin School of Economics and Law ranks fourth among the universities of applied sciences
  • The Berlin University of the Arts is the most popular art university nationwide


*Source: “Wissenschaft weltoffen 2019,” German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)/German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW), 2019