The report by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), which surveyed students in Germany and four other EU countries (the UK, France, the Netherlands and Italy), looks set to prompt new government questions on attracting skilled immigrants to Germany, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.
SVR director Gunilla Fincke said the figures can be attributed to the “substantial hurdles” faced by foreign students in Germany. In particular, she cites a lack of bureaucratic and legal guidance for those wishing to stay in the country after graduation.
The study found that only a quarter of all respondents understood the complex German legislation on their status. The report suggested that one solution might be to provide an English translation of the relevant laws, since many of Germany’s foreign students have a better command of this language than of German.
The opposition seized on the findings, with Kai Gehring, education spokesman for the Greens, lamenting “a culture that does not welcome, but frightens people away.” But according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, government plans are already in place to rectify the situation.
Under the government's new proposals, foreign students will be granted greater scope to work alongside their studies and will be permitted to stay and look for a job for 18 months, rather than the 12 currently allowed.
If the plan is successful, it should give German companies a greater pool of skilled professionals from which to recruit. But they shouldn’t count on tying the foreign students to a long contract, advises Fincke. Only 12.5 percent intend to stay in Germany longer than five years after their degree, the report found.
That might have something to do with the study’s findings on xenophobia: 40 percent of foreign students in Germany claimed to have experienced such discrimination, with only France rated as more unwelcoming.