New study: international researchers feel at home in Germany

23. March 2016

According to international researchers, German universities excel at offering attractive research conditions, a good working atmosphere and equal opportunities. These are the key results of a study recently published by GATE-Germany, the Consortium for International Higher Education Marketing operated jointly by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Rectors' Conference (HRK). The study asked international researchers with doctorates about the reasons why they chose Germany, their professional and social integration and their career plans. The study was financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

“In the last few years, German universities have become international places. Researchers come to us from various countries and feel at home in Germany. This is reflected in their research and in their contact with German colleagues: one in three would like to stay here for more than five years,” said Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research. She added that internationalisation programmes funded by the federal government, such as the Alexander von Humboldt Professorships or the Sofja Kovalevskaja Awards, contributed to this growing appeal.

The majority of those polled described the working atmosphere and professional integration as very positive. Support from the universities’ service facilities was another notable key factor in the researchers’ satisfaction.

“In addition to high-quality research, the culture of welcome experienced at our universities is crucial for their international appeal. I am delighted that researchers from other countries are so well integrated into our universities,” said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel.

Those polled stated that they mainly socialised with people within their professional environment. For the most part, researchers had close relationships with their German colleagues, but less so with Germans outside of their working environment. They were more critical of the hospitality outside of the university setting than of other factors.

HRK President Horst Hippler said: “The culture of welcome that many universities have so successfully established must go beyond the walls of the laboratory and campus. There is a need for improvement in university administration and in university towns and cities. We should continue to work on this together.”

The study was compiled at the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW).

The entire publication entitled “International Early Career Researchers in Germany: Motivation – Integration – Funding” is available at: (available in German only)

For more information, please go to: (available in German only)

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