Interested in education in Germany?
Home to 82 million inhabitants, Germany is a land of diverse beauty, historical splendor and state-of-the-art innovation. If you are looking to fulfill your Alpine fantasies then the country’s bewitching scenery is sure to satisfy, and those drawn to Germany’s cities will experience the new pinnacle of cool in Europe. Tradition coexists with techno in these pulsating centers of culture and counterculture where you can gorge on Bratwurst and Stollen cake by day and sweat in industrial clubs by night.
A global forerunner in industry and technology, Germany is a highly developed country with an excellent standard of living and a social market economy widely considered to be one of the most efficient in the world. Germany is also known the world-over for its cultural contributions – you will find everything from the high-brow to the underground across the nation’s sixteen dynamic states. From the beer halls of Bavaria to the industrial heartland of Westphalia, undertaking your education in Germany provides the ultimate opportunity to experience a corner of Europe which is both old-world and à la mode.
The Education System in Germany
Germany’s institutions of higher education are internationally accredited – according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), 6 of the top 100 and 18 of the top 200 universities in the world are German. Studying here will place you among some of the oldest and most established universities in the world, as well as some of the newest and most innovative.
Public and Private Universities
There are 400 public universities in Germany, which are attended by 95% of the university student population. These institutions are state funded, meaning that students do not pay tuition fees (apart from a small administrative cost at the start of each semester). There are also around 120 private institutions which do not receive government funding and are not state regulated, meaning that they set their own tuition fees.
The Bologna System
Higher education in Germany recently converted to the three-tier degree system of the European Higher Education Area established under the Bologna System. Rather than the old one-tier ‘long’ programs, Germany now offers undergraduate courses which result in a Bachelor’s degree, and postgraduate courses which result in a Master’s or PhD (Doctorate). This system is designed to be the same throughout Europe, facilitating international educational mobility and enhancing flexibility in educational objectives.
The German higher education system differentiates between different types of universities for different disciplines:
- Technische Universität (Technical Schools) teach science, technology and engineering
- Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Science) specialize in business, engineering and social science
- Kunst- und Musikhochschulen are universities of fine and performing arts, music, media and communication
Master’s degrees are taught courses (unlike PhDs which are research-oriented), and usually last two years (four semesters). They are either ‘consecutive’ or ‘non-consecutive’. Consecutive Master’s programs build upon an obtained Bachelor’s – they follow on from a related undergraduate degree and do not ordinarily charge fees. Non-consecutive programs focus on a more specialized area of study. These courses may charge fees, and are more likely to require professional or practical experience on top of an undergraduate degree.
Entry Requirements for German Universities
In Germany, you submit your application directly to your chosen institution of study. Alternatively, international students can use the resource UniAssist. This is a centralized service managed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which reviews applications before sending them on to universities. Not all universities use this service, however, so it is important to check this before submitting. The specific admissions process is determined by individual institutions, however here are some requirements that you will need to meet to gain admission to a German university:
Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB) or ‘higher education entrance qualification’
This simply means that you need to show proof of prior academic diplomas. The DAAD has a database of information on admission requirements in various countries, so the standardized qualification in your home country in the form of a high-school diploma, school-leaving certificate or transcript of exam results is usually sufficient. You may need to provide a translated overview of your course modules and grades, however. International students with qualifications from outside Europe may have to sit an entrance exam or Feststellungsprufung in addition, and applicants to Master’s programs may have had to earn a minimum number of credits in their chosen field of study.
Test of Language Proficiency
Some courses also require a level of proficiency in German. Even if you plan on undertaking your degree in English, some universities require that you know the basics of German as proven by taking either the Deutsche Sprachprufung fur den Hochschlzugang (‘German language examination for university entrance’) or the TestDaF (‘Test of German as a foreign language’). If you are undertaking a course taught in English and you are a non-English speaker, you will be required to take a standardized English language test such as IELTS or TOEFL.
Once you have received notice of admission, proof that you have purchased health insurance is usually a requisite for enrollment. If you are a resident of the EU or the EEA and you have access to public health insurance in your home country, you should also be covered in Germany.
Getting a Student Visa for Germany
Non-EU citizens will require a visa to study in Germany. It is important that you do not enter the country on a student visa, as this cannot be converted into a student one, but rather consult the options below to deem which is suitable for you:
Types of Visa
- Student applicant visa (Visum zur Studienbewerbung) –If you have not yet received an offer from a Germany university, but wish to enter the country to conduct the application process, attend open days etc, then this is the visa for you. It grants a stay of three months with the possibility of extending it to a maximum of six months. If you are admitted to an institution during this period, you can apply for a student visa whilst still in the country.
- Student visa (Visum zur Stedienbewerbung) – If you have already been admitted to a German university, then you will need to apply for a student visa. This is also valid for three months, however if your duration of study exceeds this time then you can extend the visa at the Alien Registration Office in Germany.
How to Apply
You will submit your visa application and conduct your visa interview at the German embassy in your home country, the address of which you can find on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office. Once the application and relevant documentation is submitted, they will be sent to the Immigration Office of your chosen university for approval and then returned. This process can take up to 25 days, so it is important that you leave plenty of time in order to minimize stress.
The German Embassy in your home country will advise you on exactly what documentation you will need to present alongside your application, however it is likely to include some or all of the following:
- Transcripts of certificates of any previous diplomas or qualifications
- Proof that you have adequate financial resources to support yourself during your studies, deemed by the German government to be a minimum of 720 EUR per month
- Proof of language proficiency in German – this can take the form of an A1 certificate from the Goethe Institute, KCSE certificate from KNEC or TestDAF and should not be more than 4 years old
- Failing this, proof that you intend on undertaking a language course once you arrive in Germany
- A document confirming that you have purchased health insurance for your time in Germany
- For a student applicant visa – university entrance qualification recognized in Germany
- For a student visa – notification of acceptance for your chosen institution of study
- A valid passport, two passport size photos and a completed application form
- You will also need to pay a fee of 60 EUR
Unlike other European countries where the visa entails a residence permit, Germany requires non-EU students to apply for this separately. If your application is approved, you will receive a two-year residence permit. This can be extended for a maximum period of three years to seek employment in the field that you studied (you must apply for this extension before the permit expires). You will need to obtain a residence permit within the first three months of arriving in Germany, and can do so at your local Alien Registration Office. The documentation required for a residence permit includes:
- Confirmation of registration from the Resident’s Registration Office
- Confirmation that you have health insurance
- Your student ID from your German university
- A valid passport and your student visa
- You may also be asked to present a certificate of health and/or a tenancy agreement, if applicable
- There will also be a residence permit fee
Study in Germany : 8 Reasons to Choose Germany for Your College Studies
Universities, courses, cost of living, visa, jobs and more!
Germany is a name that is synonymous with innovation. Contact lens, airbags, X-rays, MP3, glue stick…Germany’s contribution to making our day to day life simpler goes on and on. In consonance with its zero-emission mobility vision by 2030, the country aims to become the lead market and provider for electric mobility. That’s good news for electrical, chemical, ICT and allied sectors and great news for prospective job seekers, many of whom are international students.
Let’s take a look at why, of late, Germany has emerged as one of the favourite study-abroad destinations among Indian students.
- World-class universities: Germany has more than 400 autonomous institutes of higher education that are state-accredited and offer comprehensive high-quality education. German education system has two types of institutes:
- Universities– Universities include Universities of Technology (abbreviated as TU) and colleges of education (typically with prefix PH). They are academically oriented and offer bachelor’s, masters and doctorate degrees. Engineering sciences, mathematics, information technology, tourism and hotel management are the most preferred streams among Indian students.
- Universities of Applied Sciences– Known as Fachhochschulen (FH), these universities offer practice-oriented education in engineering, business administration, social sciences and design. These have strong industry linkages and offer possibilities of doing a master’s thesis under the joint supervision of professors and an organization. FHs do not offer doctorate degrees but once you get your master’s, you become eligible to pursue a doctorate from any university in the world.
- No tuition fee: Public universities in Germany offer free tuition to both domestic and international students. However, you do need to pay administration charges that lie around €250 per semester. In addition to that, you also need to pay a nominal amount for Semesterticket which covers your public transportation expense for one semester (six months). You should also have student health insurance that covers your stay in Germany.
- Top research destination: Approximately 89 billion euros are invested in research and development in Germany every year. (Source: research-in-germany.org) Universities, both in public and private sector, support international researchers with fellowships and postdoctoral jobs. Look out for these universities if you’re exploring research opportunities in Germany:
- Ludwig Maximillian University
- Technical University of Munich
- Heidelberg University
- Humboldt University of Berlin
- University of Freiburg
- Industry-academia connect: Good universities in Germany have a great industry-academia connect. Most universities have career centres which give you career advice and organize job fairs. This is the best way to get your CV to the companies and get an interview opportunity. Career centres can also help you find work while you are studying. A student visa allows you to work for 120 full days or 240 half days per year. The pay is generally good, from 12 to 20 euros an hour, and even better is your chance to make out-of-college connections that can help you get a job once you graduate. Know more about work placements here.
- Work permit: International students who wish to work in Germany after completing their studies should begin the process of securing a resident permit in their final year. The German residence permit is issued to students who have completed their education and are still looking for employment opportunities. It has a validity of 18 months. Check for requirements to apply for work permit here.
- Student cities: Student cities in Germany offer rich opportunities and experiences to international students. Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Nuremburg, Frankfurt, Aachen are notable student-friendly cities with a high quality of life, affordable costs and liberal atmosphere.
- Learn a new language: Do I need to know German to study in Germany? We get that question a lot. The answer is yes, you do! Even though Germany offers more than 1,800 international programs which are in English, it would do you good if you have basic knowledge of German. To prove your proficiency in the German language, you would need to take tests like the TestDaf or the DSH. Check language requirement on the website of the universities that you are applying to. Know more about language requirement here.
- Networking: Academic life in Germany is challenging. Professors are merely facilitators of education; they promote self-learning. This helps students develop life-skills like critical thinking, teamwork, resourcefulness, etc. The connections you build during your coursework become important networking tools in your future.
Why study in Germany?
Germany presently stands as the most significantly inhabited country in the European Union and is regarded as a rapidly increasing economy, carrying the merit of being one of the globe’s leading importer and exporter. Sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare, tourism, industry, and agriculture are the outlets of massive profit influx and are perennially on the lookout for a skilled workforce. Having deep-rooted ties in art and culture since antiquity, it has churned out legendary figures such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Immanuel Kant. More recently, Germany is famous for being the land of Gerhard Ertl, Bernard L. Feringa, Harald zur Hausen (Noble prize laureates), Peter Sloterdijk (Philosopher and cultural theorist), Ole Wittmann (popular Art Historian).
Germany has also concretized its position as a preferred destination for international students and is home to multiple highly ranked universities, offers flexible courses to choose from, has a welcoming cross-cultural environment, and degrees which will hold you in good stead throughout your academic and professional career. A high employment rate, coupled with a highly affordable living costs and no tuition degree- Germany has a lot for you! According to the latest official statistics, over 357,000 international students are seeking a university degree in Germany. Wondering why? Here is the answer-
- No tuition fees: As per a survey conducted by Studying in Germany.org, 35.3% of prospective international students were reported saying that low or no tuition fee was the reason they were drawn to apply to the country. It is the only country which doesn’t charge tuition fees and hence, scores a significant edge as compared to nations such as the UK or the US. It is primarily a boon for students with a weak financial background since their entire expense of studying and living comes down by a significant margin. A landmark decision passed in the German parliament in October 2014 stated that all international students in the country would be exempted from any tuition fees. International students only have to spend a few administrative costs like student contribution, student union fee and a public transport ticket which account to around €250 per semester altogether. You can explore this topic in more profound details in our corresponding article on how to apply to study in Germany for free?
- Top-Ranked Universities: Based on official 2018 recordings, there are 429 public higher education institutions functioning in Germany, among which, 106 are universities. Some of the top names include University of Munich (US News ranking 57), Heidelberg University (US ranking 68), TUM (University ranking 86), the Humboldt University of Berlin (US News ranking 68), the University of Bonn (ranked 39 in Europe). Most of these Universities find their roots back several decades back, which adds to their worth and quality of teaching. Plenty of Universities are not just the oldest in Germany, but also in Europe and enthral a considerable number of students from different corners of the world.
- A Course for Every Student: Germany is known for providing courses tailored according to a student’s profile and interests and engineering students, specifically, have a lot to gain. Since Germany is an industrialized nation, the country has never hesitated to invest in funding engineering universities, and today these programs have become extremely sought after. You might be coming from a technical background intrigued by management, and there will be a specialized course for you. You might be interested in studying atom or the bewitching mysteries of the universe, and the German universities won’t disappoint you. Programs such as Sustainable Studies, Aviation, Design Studies, and Geology are also unique and popular.
- Affordable Cost of Living: Living in a foreign land undeniably comes with huge costs since you have to manage everything on your own and do not have your family to support you. Stationery, travel, food, and other miscellaneous expenses can take a toll on your pocket in other countries, but not in Germany. While the cost differs from one area to the other, rent will be primarily your significant financial concern. The cost of the apartment would be a little higher in urban parts of the country as compared to the lesser populated areas. If you can find someone willing to share the room with you, then there’s nothing better than that, because it will lower your cost reasonably. Rest of the aspects, too, fall on the cheaper side, and goods and services, food, amenities, public transport, among other things aren’t priced high.
- Work Opportunities: For International Students Along with overall low costs of studying in the country, what also works in favor of Germany is the flexibility it provides to its students regarding working opportunities. The German law specifies that international students can work part-time for up to 20 hours a week or 120 full days of a year. There is a wide range of jobs you can choose from, and you can work as a tutor, bartender, administrative staff, et cetera. The extra cash, thus, can help you sustain yourself well in the country. Working while studying will not only make you financially secure and cover your different costs but also has the potential of increasing your future employability.
- Diverse Community: Germany’s diverse community, welcoming populace, and the cross-cultural experience you will reap is quite unmatched. While living here, you will also find yourself learning the German language which will further benefit you in your career ahead as employers naturally prefer candidates with substantial caliber. You will be able to mingle well with students hailing from different backgrounds and countries and in the process of befriending them, you will reach a step closer to an understanding of numerous cultures and ethnicities.
- Job Opportunities: As the most popular non-Anglophone country, Germany is a haven for students not just for studying, but also in terms of employment opportunities. After your graduation, you can stay up to 18 months in the country while preparing and looking for a job. Compare it with countries like the UK, where the period given to you to search for employment opportunities is three months. Germany is always eager to welcome skilled workforce and able minds in their country (which is also the building block behind their no tuition policy). In 2014, the German Academic Exchange reported that around 50% of international students choose to work instead of returning to their native country and digging up work options. Times Higher Education’s Global Employability University Ranking Results also placed the the Technical University of Munich at 11th (the highest in the UK, US or Canadian entry).
- Recreational Outlets for Students: Projects, assignments and part-time work can be a little overwhelming at times, and we all are on a lookout for some recreational respite. In Germany, there is no dearth of such opportunities, and every inch of the country is worth exploring. Activities such as sports, hiking, cycling, skiing, and other athletic activities continue to capture the students’ fascination. As a student living in a metropolitan city; bars, theater, and cinema are all part of student life in Germany. The excellent public transport also means that a safe commute will be the least of your worries. As an additional perk of studying in Germany, you get a travel card for free by paying enrollment and administrative taxes which are extremely low, thus, catering to students like you.
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