Living and doing research as part of an international community

The home to institutes of Renown and innovative companies, Germany welcomes researchers from all over the world. With their range of experiences and spheres of knowledge, international qualified professionals do more than foster knowledge-sharing and enrich research. These communities can also help you get settled into life in your new home country and provide tips for day-to-day living, whether it's a question of where to find a language course or a kindergarten for your children.

How many international researchers live and work in Germany?

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Internationality is a key criterion for researchers when choosing their place of work. Not only does Germany have a very varied landscape in terms of science and research – the research teams too are increasingly international.

Currently, nearly 10 per cent of researchers (some 80,000 people) in Germany come from abroad. 5.5 per cent are nationals of another EU country, while 4 per cent come from non-European states.

The southern German states are proving especially attractive for international researchers: 40 per cent of them live and work in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. If we look at the distribution among universities, the highest proportion of international scientific staff is found in Saarland, with 15.5 per cent.

International researchers are found most frequently in mathematics and IT (11.2 per cent). While EU scientists work in engineering or related lines of business in Germany, around 80 per cent of the researchers from non-European states work in the life sciences.

Internationalisation at German universities

©fotolia/contrastwerkstatt

Universities are among the largest employers of international researchers. In 2012, a total of 35,345 scientists of non-German origin worked in German universities. Most of these worked in traditional universities (84 per cent), a much smaller proportion in universities of applied science (9 per cent). The universities of Frankfurt an der Oder, Constance and Clausthal have an especially large proportion of international scientists on their staff. Reutlingen takes the lead among the universities of applied science.

Most scientists come from West Europe, but many also come from East Europe and Asia. Among the countries of origin, Italy is the outright number one, followed by China, Austria and Russia. 65 per cent of international university lecturers come from West Europe, most frequently from Austria and Switzerland.

At German universities, the largest proportion of international researchers is to be found in mathematics, the life sciences and engineering – rarely in law, economics and the social sciences. Nevertheless, the number of foreign researchers in these specialist areas more than doubled between 2005 and 2012.

" As a researcher you feel at home here. "

Ayse, Türkei

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How do international scientists view Germany as a place to work?

The vast majority of international scientists rate the German research landscape positively. In 2011, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation conducted a study to see how international visiting scientists viewed Germany. According to its findings, 90 per cent of those questioned rated their stint of research as very good or good from the scientific point of view. The work atmosphere in German institutes, the premises and facilities were also rated as good to very good.

What scientific staff members from abroad appreciate most is the autonomy, the freedom to organise their time and the great importance of their work for others. And one thing particularly worth noting: the majority of those questioned said their international origin had a positive impact on their scientific career in Germany.

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