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.
Continuously the home of influential and successful writers, artists, philosophers, musicians, scientists, engineers and sportspeople, few countries have had as much impact on the world as Das Land der Dichter und Denker (‘The Land of Poets and Thinkers’), and an education in Germany places you right in the center of this veritable nerve center of economy, industry and culture.
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.
Tuition Fee &
As of 2014 German universities are fully funded by the German government, meaning that neither home nor international students pay tuition fees
Students need only to pay a fee of around 60-200 EUR per semester for administrative, travel and food facilities. This has greatly increased Germany’s population as a destination for studying abroad – it is now the world’s third leading destination for international study.
Private institutions do not receive subsidization from the government and are therefore dependent on tuition fees. These are not regulated by the government and can cost up to 20,000 EUR per year. This fluctuates depending on institution of study and chosen degree program – engineering or business degrees are usually higher in cost than social sciences, for instance.
Master’s courses in Germany are either ‘consecutive’, meaning that they follow directly on from a related Bachelor’s degree, or ‘non-consecutive’, meaning that they are standalone courses in a more specialized area. Consecutive courses are usually free of charge in Germany for home, EU and international students. Non-consecutive Master’s courses can cost up to around 5000 EUR per year for public universities, and up to 30,000 EUR per year for private universities.
For the first six semesters of study, tuition fees do not apply for Doctorate programs at public universities. However, as with Master’s and Bachelor’s options, PhD students are required to make a contribution of no more than 300 EUR per semester.
For students who struggle to meet the financial criteria for their chosen degree, the Federal Student Financial Aid Program (Bundesausbildungsforderungsgesetz or BAföG) can be accessed by both German nationals and EU students, as well as international students under some circumstances. Half of this takes the form of a state-grant and the other half is an interest-free loan that is gradually paid back.
VISA INFORMATION FOR
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 Studienbewerbung) – 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.
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
Germany has the fourth largest economy in the world (after the US, China and Japan) and the largest economy of any European Union (EU) country
It also has the biggest population of any EU member state and is a major industrial power; it is one of the world's biggest and most technologically advanced producers of machinery, vehicles and chemicals. All of this is supported by a highly skilled workforce. There are plenty of opportunities for UK graduates to experience life in Germany, whether by starting or developing their careers in the country, teaching English, or taking part in a volunteering programme or study scheme.
The single most successful German industry is mechanical engineering, which is dominated by small rather than large companies. Only around 3% of the German companies working in this sector have more than 1,000 employees. Electrical engineering, automotive manufacturing and the chemical industry are also crucially important to the strength of the German economy.
Medical equipment and pharmaceutical goods are key exports, as are electrical goods, which range from commercial lighting to nanotechnology products and household appliances. Germany has also invested heavily in green energy and related technology, especially solar and wind energy.
Metals such as iron and steel
High precision equipment
There are many considerations that affect a student’s decision to choose a country.
While some look for top colleges, some look for extensive programs and research options and many looks for post-study work options in the country. Some do it for earning a little extra on the side to enjoy their stay, some for having something better to do and some others to get a start to their professional careers. Whatever be the reason, part-time study options are a great factor in the decision-making process. So what is the verdict on Germany?
Before we explore the same in some depth, we must mention that there are two aspects to part-time work. One being the eligibility and laws relevant to part-time work options for international students and second would be the more obvious – the choices available. Let’s look at them individually.
Laws for Student Part-time jobs
As an international student, you are allowed to take up part-time employment along with your studies while in Germany. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind though.
You can work for a total of 120 full or 240 half days in a year as a student. This, however, might vary from high employment regions to low employment regions. Simply put, if your university is in a place which is in a city which has high unemployment rates, or requires more manpower, you might just get a work permit of more than 120 days.
Usually, as per university norms, a student would not be allowed to work for more than 20 hours in a week during term. Students, however, can take up full-time employment during vacations.
A work permit from the "Agentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) and the foreigners' authority is required. The permit would have details of the maximum limit of work a student can take up.
If you are enrolled in a preparatory course or a language course, the regulations are tighter. As such, you are allowed only to work during the lecture-free periods and only with explicit permission to do so from the foreign authority.
Taxation is another concern. A student earning less than 450 euros a month need not pay any taxes/ social security contribution. Also, if you work for less than 50 continuous days over a period of one year, you are exempt as well.
Working for more than 20 hours a week is generally not advised. Not only is it against most university rules, working more than this limit would require you to pay health insurance, unemployment as well as nursing care insurance.
Compliance with the Federal Laws is extremely important. If you are found to be flouting them, you can find yourself being expelled from the country. So, keep the checks in place, conform to the rules and have your permit in place.
When it comes to working within the University, though, the working hours and wages are completed differently. In fact, they are far better and you can work for long hours as well. Getting a job in the University, however, might not be as easy.