The Future of Studying in Germany for international students in the Lights of Covid-19
Whitepaper, published 02/2021
The present study is concerned with assessing the qualities the university of the future might need in order to be sustainable. Therefore, the paper builds on literature in regards to the internationalization of universities and education with a special focus on German universities, whose on-going internationalization process since the 1980s is described. While the generally increasing amount of international students and international staff members is highlighted alongside the generally positive perception of German universities, a number of challenges is named that can prevent international study experiences. In these regards, special considerations are given to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and its influence on the study and learning experiences in an international context. Additionally, recent research on changing expectations for universities is presented, wherein new approaches like the enrichment of studies through entrepreneurial aspects are discussed.
Based on this initial literature review an empirical study following a quantitative approach was conducted. Using standardized scales, the perception of German universities through international students in regards to various aspects of COVID-19 induced changes and challenges, in regards to the aforementioned enrichment programs and in regards to the general perception of the German university system, was assessed. The main hypotheses of this study could be confirmed – German universities are perceived in a generally favorable light by international students, although the COVID-19 crisis impacted study plans and study experiences. Enrichment programs that would see an introduction to entrepreneurial aspects in engineering studies and vice versa are also shown to be a valuable addition to the study experience. This goes, as the final discussion of the paper explains, in alignment with various proposals in regards to the university of the future, which despite the challenges arising from the pandemic should see a strong focus on hybrid forms of learning, enrichment programs and an on-going internationalization of students and staff alike.
It can be conducted that the perception of German universities is overall a very positive one and even more so when being assessed by international students not (yet) living in Germany.
International students still living in their home country decided to rather postpone their studies than to take their courses online. The difference seems to be true for international students already living in Germany: They seem to rather switch to online courses than to postpone their studies – a result potentially explainable by the fact that those living in Germany already changed their life circumstances to accustom their study plans.
It can be noted that enrichment programs are perceived as overwhelmingly positive by the participants. However, the perception of international students living in Germany and those living in other places differs only for one aspect of this enrichment programs: the importance with which they rate entrepreneurship as part of their curriculum. Here international students living in other places seem to place a significantly higher importance on the topic than those living in Germany do.
International students living outside of Germany rate the option to start a study program online but to resume it offline on campus significantly better than those students living in Germany already do. Such a distinct differentiation between the two groups could not be observed for the two other variables analysed here: Neither the attractiveness of bite-sized online content nor the general preferred distribution between online and offline studies differed significantly between the two groups.
Table of Content
1 Introduction – International Studies in Germany
2 The University of the Future
3.1 Framework and Research Design
4.1 Descriptive Results
4.2 Hypothesis 1 – General Perception of German Universities
4.3 Hypothesis 2 – Enrichment Programs for the Future of Studying
4.4 Hypothesis 3 – The Impact of COVID-19
4.5 Hypothesis 4 – Different Learning Formats in the Light of COVID-19
5.1 Limitations and Critical Discussion