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University grads of foreign descent bid Germany farewell

University graduates of foreign descent tend to turn their backs on Germany. Despite being as qualified as German applicants, their career prospects are not as good. Especially many Turks consider going to Istanbul.

International students standing together with a German flag in the background

Studying in Germany but working elsewhere

All her bags are packed, she is ready to go: 29-year-old Hacer Aydin is planning to return to Turkey. One year ago she successfully earned a degree in economics at the Ruhr University in Bochum. Since then she has applied for jobs at more than a dozen German companies, but none of them invited her for a job interview.

"It's a fact that German citizens are favored," Aydin said, a mix of frustration and resignation in her voice.

Although in her personal life she said she feels like a regular part of society, Aydin added that she feels left out of the job market. She is also skeptical whether migrants in Germany have real opportunities for professional advancement.

Sought-after specialists leave Germany

Engineers students

Engineers are sought-after in Germany, but it is difficult for migrants to find a job

Every third migrant with Turkish roots considers going back to Turkey, according to a study conducted Center of Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg/Essen. In the past 10 years the number of people willing to go back has almost doubled.

No less than 35 percent of young graduates want to return to Turkey after finishing their education at a German university. In a poll by the Futureorg Institute, most participants said an important reason to head back was because - despite their qualifications - they feel excluded.

From an economic point of view, Germany can ill afford to let them leave as companies are desperately looking for engineers and IT specialists.

Looking for Schmidt, not Yüksel

Quite a number of Aydin's friends and acquaintances from the Turkish community at the Ruhr University in Bochum have already said goodbye and left for Turkey. From their conversations she has learned that graduates with Turkish roots and a German degree have a good chance to start working in Turkey, especially in the booming region around Istanbul.

Istanbul

Thriving and thrilling: Many young graduates look for jobs in and around Istanbul

Brain drain instead of brain gain

Most migrants have a rather pessimistic outlook on their career and thus can easily imagine living and working in Turkey, according to Dirk Halm from the Center of Turkish Studies. Even if they felt integrated at their universities - which most of them did - after graduation they feel rejected and excluded by the wider world.

That is why so many graduates, especially in the fields of economics and technology, decide to go back to their parents' home country. Some even consider going into business for themselves.

The disparity of opportunities also convinces some people to leave for Turkey, Halm added.

"It is indeed the case that someone of a non-German origin will have more difficulty getting a job - even if he is as qualified," he said. "This has been scientifically proven in the past years."

When applicants' last names are Yüksel instead of Schmidt, they get the short end of the stick, Halm said.

Happy private, professional life

Dirk Halm

German applicants are often favored, Halm said

Another reason for the returning to Turkey is marriage, Halm said.

"From an economic point of view, it is a lot easier for one's spouse in Turkey now than it used to be 20 or 30 years ago," Halm said. "The economic situation is much better now, more dynamic."

In other words: Marrying in Turkey can prove a lot more satisfying - both in terms of career opportunities and enjoyment of private life - than applying for and being denied jobs in Germany. In the face of starting her career in thriving Istanbul, such a marriage is something that even emancipated economist Hacer Aydin could imagine for herself.

Author: Klaus Deuse (gri)
Editor: Sean Sinico

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