According to 2018 International Students in Germany Survey, 374,951 international students were accepted at German higher educational institutions for the winter semester for 2017-2018 academic year. Resultantly, this means that out of all the students studying in Germany, about 13% are international students, thus, occupying a sizeable amount in the student community. The country has only seen a progression in the number of students vying to reserve a spot at one of its universities and the number of international students increased by 4.5% as compared to 358,895 students for the winter semester 2016-2017. A significant chunk of these international students in Germany comes from a select range of countries, which includes China, India, Russia, Austria, Italy, France, Cameron, Ukraine, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Talking about Indian students, between 2016-2017, the Indian population witnessed the most prominent growth by 16% amongst all international students in Germany.
So what is it which contributes to making Germany as one of the most preferred options, alongside the UK, US, and Canada? The significant icing on the cake is the complete absence of tuition fee in all the public universities in Germany, which spurs students to apply to the country in large numbers. There are almost 300 public universities in Germany, which boast of more than 1,000 study programmes, leaving students with a wide range of options. Some of the largest public universities (and the most preferred names) include the University of Cologne, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU), Goethe University Frankfurt, RWTH Aachen University, University of Münster, Universität Hamburg, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, and Technical University of Munich (TUM).
The Absence of Tuition Fees- Explained
If you aim to study in Germany, it is natural enough for some queries and concerns to plague your mind. Why exactly is the education termed as free? Why is there no tuition fee at all? This is because of the moral and ethical compass Germany follows and the virtuous thought which binds the country as a whole. Germans believe that education is not necessarily a commercial product, but, rather, should be accessible to as many people as possible. In fact, some years back, there was legislation in the country which allowed public universities to charge a modest tuition fee of about 1,000 Euros annually. However, this sparked a chain of public protests, which eventually led the government to abolish tuition fees again in 2014. Moreover, Germany’s government puts immense value on the talent a country can obtain through immigration. Several students with utmost potential and caliber fly to Germany every year and plan to find employment opportunities in the country, and the German authorities intend to attract more of such talent through the no tuition fee policy.
What Other Costs Does One Need to Account For?
While there usually isn’t any tuition fees at public universities, you might be asked to pay a small amount which is called a ‘semester fee’ or ‘administrative fee.’ This amount tantamounts to around 300 or 400 euros for the entire semester. This cost is sufficient to cover your public transport tickets for the campus vicinity and at times, even the surrounding areas. Germany is distinguished for being one of the more affordable countries in western Europe, and about 800 euros would be enough for you to spend the entire month.
Once you have researched substantially and eliminated all your doubts regarding the cost of studying in Germany, the next step is to choose the right course and University tailored according to your profile and interests. You might want to swim through the German Academic Exchange Service, which harbours a database of almost 2,000 programs. A careful perusal of these subjects will help you decide which path to traverse further on before you make this crucial decision of your life. Make it a point on your checklist to keep yourself updated with the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject which will assist you in digging up the suitable options in your field. An exciting feature is the compare tool which helps you narrow down universities as you move along.
Once you have shortlisted the University you want to study at, it is always advisable to arrange all the required documents which will be asked by the University, if you are selected. You will stumble upon a common requirement in all the German universities, which is, Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB), which translates to ‘higher education entrance qualification.’ If you are looking for an undergraduate degree, you will have to arrange a high school diploma, school leaving certificate, or university entrance exam result. Additionally, you also need to check if your intended course will be taught in English or the dominant language German. Mostly, the medium of instruction is German, and as an international application, you have to submit proof of proficiency in the German language. The Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang, meaning ‘German language examination for university entrance’ and the TestDaF are the two tests which achieve this purpose. In case your course will be taught in English, you will also have to prepare for IELTS or TOEFL since English is not Indians’ native language.
Time to Apply
The website, www.uni-assist.de is a decentralized admissions portal for international students, administered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which can be used to apply to Universities. However, it covers most of the universities but not all. It is prudent to apply to numerous courses and universities separately to increase your chances of being admitted. You are free to choose between the Winter or Summer semester; applications for which are open by 15th July and 15th January respectively. Make sure to regularly check the deadlines specified on the websites of individual websites, so that you don’t miss out on anything and avoid any last minute hassle. You are likely to receive a formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline. You may also need to pay an application fee, which, again, varies from University to University.
Finance and Visa
Whether you require a student visa or not for Germany is determined by your country of origin. The Foreign Federal Office’s website is the one-stop destination for you to find out whether you require a student visa or not. It is also noteworthy that to fulfill student visa requirements; you are required to prove that you have around €8,700 per year (~US$10,000) to cover your necessary living costs. However, once you settle in Germany, you will soon realize that living cost varies from one city to the other; and Munich is presently the most expensive German city.
While adjusting in a new country can be a daunting task, and one needs to prepare to get into the flow quickly, one aspect which is left out somewhere in between is health. Between your classes, assignments, extracurricular activities, and presentations, you might not be able to pay as much attention to your physical and mental health as you ought to. Before studying in Germany, you are required to buy health insurance. If your country is a part of the EU or EEA, it calls for a social security agreement between your nation and Germany. Translated into straightforward terms, this means that if you have bought public health insurance in your home country, you can reap benefits in Germany as well. You will generally need to get a European Health Insurance Card to avail this advantage. There is also a possibility that your health insurance might not be valid in Germany, and so, you will be asked to pay somewhere between US$92 and US$176 per month. However, this is not a standard cost, and if you are over 29 at the time of the initiation of your course, you are only entitled to private insurance.
Once you have prepared all your documents and have gained your Visa (if applicable), the next step on the bucket list is to seek shelter which fits your budget. Considering that most German universities don’t offer housing facilities, you will be responsible for yourself, and it is wise to spend a sufficient amount of time while investing your efforts in finding the right home. The rent will differ from city to city, and understandably so. In large cities such as Dusseldorf and Cologne in Western Germany and smaller cities such as Heidelberg and Freiburg, you will have to pay slightly more if you were living in a country in Eastern Germany, say, Berlin. Once you have finalized a place, you have to register at the ‘residents’ registration office’ (Einwohnermeldeamt) or the ‘citizens’ bureau’ (Bürgeramt).
The entire application process of Germany can be made coherent if you devote adequate time to research and prior preparation. Constructing a schedule beforehand, keeping yourself updated with deadlines, working diligently on essays and arranging your financial documents while you still have time in hand are some of the critical points which can aid you in securing an admit from your chosen University in Germany.