Why Study in Germany?
The German university system is one of the oldest in the world and has set the standard for higher education in many countries.
The degrees awarded by German universities are highly regarded and recognized throughout the world by employers and academic institutions. The principal degree awarded in Germany for scientific subjects is the “Diplom” or Diploma, which is considered to be equivalent to the Master of Science or Master of Engineering degree awarded in, for example, the United States or the United Kingdom. Most students aim at achieving the Diplom, which is a professional qualification. The “Vordiplom” – ‘prediploma’ – is an intermediate stage in Germany, considered to be roughly equivalent to the level reached for a Bachelor of Science degree in America or Britain, although it is not a degree. The German higher degree, the doctorate, is equivalent to any in the world.
For the international student an important feature of most German universities is that they do not charge tuition fees. University education in Germany is federally funded.
Another important and attractive feature of the German system is the freedom that you have to plan and organize your own work. Each faculty provides timetables and study plans, but the regulations permit students to individually vary the timing of courses and the content of particular seminars and projects. This enables you to construct a program of study that is tailored according to your own personal needs and interests.
Attendance at lectures and tutorials is for the most part not compulsory. But your course projects will be regularly assessed. These assessments, together with examinations, ensure that you meet the high standards required by the course.
German universities have been the scene of many groundbreaking discoveries, gaining them international renown. Modern German universities also combine theoretical work with its practical application. They both educate and train – basic research is augmented by applied research. Interdisciplinary cooperation is common, and many learning institutions cooperate closely with multinational firms and with research institutes in Germany and abroad. In the end, this increases graduates’ chances on the job market.
Many of today’s students no longer want a purely theoretical education. A variety of comprehensive universities and universities of applied science in Germany offer balanced academic training necessary for a professional career. Practical experience in regional companies is often part of the curriculum. German companies are interested in attracting well-trained graduates from abroad. And in many cases, these former students can continue to work for the company as a foreign spokesperson once they return home.
Benefits of Studying in Germany
Germany has much to offer as a place to study – courses geared to international needs, internationally recognized qualifications such as Bachelor and Master, a credit system which allows the accumulation and transfer of study and exam modules.
German institutions of higher education are characterized by the quality and diversity of courses on offer. They combine established university traditions with modern facilities, research and teaching.
The country and the people
The Federal Republic of Germany is located in the heart of Europe, linking the west with the east, the north with the south. The most densely-populated country in Europe, Germany has been flanked by nine neighboring states since the unification of the two German states in 1990. An integral part of the European Union and NATO, Germany is a partner to the central and eastern European states that are en route to becoming part of a united Europe.
For most of its history, Germany was not a unified state but a loose association of territorial states that together made up the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation?. It was a long time until the founding of the German Reich in 1871.
In the early days of the 21st century Germany is actively engaged in securing peace, safeguarding human rights and combating terrorism around the world. Germany supports a system of global cooperative security within the framework of the United Nations, and in light of the historic expansion of the EU through 2004 now finds itself at the center of a union of neighbors closely interconnected by friendship as well as political and economic ties.
Ranking third in terms of total economic output, Germany is one of the world’s leading nations. With regard to world trade it places second. The country continues to be an attractive market for foreign investors, offering a superbly developed infrastructure and a highly motivated, qualified work force. Top-notch research and development projects are additional hallmarks of the country.
The State, the Legal System and the Citizens
The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and socially responsible federal country. The nationwide constitutional order of the Basic Law is expressed in the country’s constitutional bodies, in the country’s federalism, in the legal order and in the electoral system. These determine not only everyday political routine, but also the lives of the people in Germany.
Education, Science, & Research
Germany is a country which highly values education and vocational training, research and the sciences. The country has produced Nobel Prize winners, high-level scientific work is undertaken here, international projects are promoted, and students from all over the world study here.
Society and Culture
Open-minded, modern and tolerant, these are the hallmarks of German society at the beginning of the 21st century. For the vast majority of people, the family still forms the nucleus of their lives, yet the forms people choose for living together have become far more numerous. Supported by consistent measures by the state to ensure equality, there has been a change in the interpretation of the roles men and women play.
Education System in Germany
Facts and Figures
Many German institutions of higher education can look back on a centuries-old tradition. The oldest university in Germany today was founded in Heidelberg in 1386. Until the Second World War German universities played a leading role internationally in many of the science and humanities disciplines. During the period of National Socialist rule, however, a large number of particularly distinguished academics were forced to leave the country and it took some time before the universities were able to regain their academic standing in the world. The unification of Germany brought together two diametrically opposed academic systems. Research and teaching in the new Lear have undergone a thorough structural change and now contribute significantly to the lively German economic scenario.
There are more than 330 institutions of higher education spread all over Germany, with no less than 117 universities, 159 “Fachhochschulen” (universities of applied science) and 56 colleges of music and fine arts. During the winter semester 2003/04 almost 1.9 million students were registered, of whom 227,000 came from abroad and 359,000 were in their first-year.
The spectrum of study options is extremely broad. Apart from the classic disciplines it is also possible to study mining in Germany; Lg offers “Applied Cultural Studies”, Cologne has an institute for media studies, while at Rostock you can study agricultural ecology, to name but a few subjects from the variegated pallet totaling over 10.000 degree programs in all. In the last few years inter-disciplinary science and research have become significantly more important.
Public (state-maintained) universities in Germany do not generally charge tuition fees. Some Master’s programs and the additional fees charged by some of the federal states are exceptions to this rule. Click here for further information.
How the Institutions are structured?
Since the time of Wilhelm von Humboldt the governing principle has been “the unity of research and teaching”. Since the opening-up of the universities, however, with the resulting trend towards mass institutions, this ideal is only partially in line with the times. Aspects such as practical applicability and relevance to vocational requirements are constantly gaining in importance. This is particularly true at Fachhochschulen where the courses are shorter and the curriculum more tightly-organised than at the universities. Ever more new students are opting to study at Fachhochschulen. The “freedom of teaching and research” guarantees institutions the right to self-administration even if they are financed by the state. In the framework of the Higher Education Act of the respective Land they award themselves their own charters. Universities are headed by a Rector or President, several Pro-rectors or Vice-presidents, and a Chancellor. The Academic Senate is responsible for general affairs concerning research, teaching and studying. It is composed of elected representatives of all the members of the institution, ie. Students and non-academic staff, too. The students elect their own Student Representation. Its various bodies are self-administrating and safeguard student rights with regard to higher education policy, as well as dealing with students’ social and cultural interests.
Where does teaching and research take place?
The individual disciplines are grouped together into faculties or departments (eg. the “Philosophical Faculty” or the “Department of Economics”). The faculties and departments are empowered to pass regulations governing studies and examinations. An elected Dean is in charge of faculty or departmental business. Each subject has its own institute or “Seminar” (in Germany this word has a double meaning: a course and a department building or room). This will be the place you spend most of your time because this is where the teaching staff and other students are to be found. You will find literature on your subject in the “Seminar”-library, while general information on your course of study is available from the Departmental Student Organization (“Fachschaft”). Queries about organizational matters can be addressed to the secretary’s office.
A student aspiring to study in Germany should possess an above average or at least average academic record. All qualifications are assessed by relevant institutions to ascertain whether the student is eligible to be admitted into a certain course.
Since the medium of instruction in most German institutions is English, proficiency in German language is not a necessary criterion for admission decisions to be made. However, a student is expected to show his proficiency in the German language for better living. It is imperative that students have at least a basic knowledge of German. At GECS we conduct basic/advanced German language classes which student can avail from us. Courses in business German are also offered. A student can take up elementary course in India itself, and then continue to learn the language once he reaches Germany.
TOEFL/IELTS/Graduate Admissions Tests
Most German universities do not expect TOEFL, IELTS or GRE scores. Some universities that offer International degree programs in English might expect a TOEFL/IELTS score, but even that is usually waived if the student’s education has been in English language. Some of the Management schools may ask for a GMAT score. Even in schools where it is not asked, a student with a GMAT score will be given preference over one who has not given the test, provided the score is a good one.
It is prudent to start well in advance, as the procedure is a long one. A student should also enroll into a German language program as soon as he decides to pursue higher education in Germany. The doors of a university are open to a student only after he proves that he’s entitled to be admitted to an institution of higher education. This is good for those whose educational qualifications or certificates are recognized as equivalent to those in Germany. If this is not the case, the student must undergo an eligibility test. In this case, each Federal State lays down the decisive criteria for evaluation of foreign qualifications required for admission. The preparatory institutions attached to the institutions of higher education are responsible for preparing students to take the eligibility test.
The following documents are generally required:
A certified copy of the certificate for admission to higher education or in other words the foreign high school qualification
Bio-data with exact information about one’s education (schools visited, exams taken etc)
Bio-data with exact information about one’s education (schools visited, exams taken etc)
Proof of higher studies attended till now if applicable
Language certificate as proof of required German language knowledge
An officially certified photocopy of the assessment test to determine the eligibility of foreign
applicants to studies at institutions of higher education in Germany with subjects and mark list, if the test has been taken
Certified copies of your academic transcripts and degree certificates. If the certificates are in a language other than English, German, or French, you are expected to send official English or German translations of the certificates
Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
Most universities may ask you to send an essay or personal statement. This should include the reasons for you wishing to pursue a particular course in Germany, and specifically in that particular university. Your essay is assessed not only for its content but also for your clarity of thought, your language ability, your goals, and other relevant things
Recommendations are expected to be from your professors, lecturers or employers. A lot of weight age is given to the letters of recommendations in making the admission decision. Some universities send their own recommendation forms with ratings, while others may expect them on official letterheads. The recommendation letters have to be sealed and the person recommending you should sign on the cover.
Deadlines and Submission
German universities are very particular about deadlines. Any application reaching late is not processed, no matter how impressive. The deadlines are as follows:
Winter Semester (October)—July 15th
Summer Semester (April)—January 15th
In case you need to send your applications for central assessment first, then the deadlines are as follows:
Winter Semester (October)—May 15th
Summer Semester (April)—November 15th
After your qualifications are cleared, you have to then apply to the respective universities before the above-mentioned deadlines.
Preparatory Studies for Foreign Students
Applicants whose certificates aren’t recognized still have a chance to study in Germany. They can enroll at a College of Preparatory Studies for Foreign Students (Studienkolleg). Enrollment for the preparatory courses is handled by the university. As with every other authority in Germany, one needs to apply in writing. The Foreign Students’ Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) at the various universities will provide you with more details.
The preparatory program lasts for one year at the end of which foreign students have to take a final examination. If they pass the exam they are considered to be up to the academic level they need to study at a German university and can apply for admission.
The preparatory courses are conducted in German, so language proficiency is a must.
Student Visa procedure
what is a Student Visa?
Any international student who intends to undertake full-time study in a course at a registered institution of higher education in Germany needs to obtain a Student Visa. The Visa, which is granted initially for a period of up to three months by the German Embassy/Consulates General, permits the holder to enter Germany. However, it will be extended by the competent Foreigners’ Registration Office (‘Auslanderbehorde’) when the student duly registers himself/herself within the first three months of his/her stay in Germany. The extension is done for one year at a time, up to the duration of the course. A Student Visa is valid for multiple entries.
Applying for a Student Visa
To be considered for a Student Visa, the applicant must first complete an application form for a ‘longer stay visa in duplicate. The current application fee for a Student Visa is Euro 25 (currently approx. Rs 1400). The fee is subject to change without notice. An application will not be accepted unless it is made in the prescribed form and with the correct fee 2 passport size photos are needed for the application. The fee is a visa service charge and is non-refundable, irrespective of the outcome of the visa application.
Applications will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
1) Evidence of Enrollment
Whether the applicant’s German language skills are adequate for the purpose of the proposed course. Relevance of the proposed course for the applicant’s current academic and employment circumstances
Applicant’s intentions to comply with visa conditions and leave Germany at the end of the authorized period of stay
Applicant’s migration history and ties with Germany
Adequate Financial Resources
This involves an assessment of the applicant’s or his/her sponsor’s ability to finance all expenses pertaining to the applicant’s education in Germany including cost of living and a German medical insurance.
It is essential that the applicant meets the German health requirements. This involves the proof of a recent medical check-up and a chest x-ray. The medical certificate should clearly identify the person examined.
Pre – Departure Information
Pre-departure orientation sessions are organized for students on their way to the foreign destinations following receipt of their student visas. These Sessions give students a taste of what life is like in the foreign, both academically and culturally.
If you have been admitted to a program of study in a foreign college, you should bring with you any syllabi, catalogs, bulletins, course descriptions or other relevant materials issued by the secondary school or university you have attended most recently.”
“When travelling abroad, it is important to carry all important documents on your person. Do not put them in a suitcase. Do not loan or give them to anyone unless that person can show you some form of identification that he/she is authorized to receive them.”
“Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to have funds transferred from your bank at home to a bank in the foreign – even with a Demand Draft”.
“Host Family Programs pair a foreign family with a foreign student for the purpose of friendship and culture sharing. They provide for student visits to a family home for meals, esp. During occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Carry some books on Indian Culture and religion. Be prepared to answer questions, often in depth, say on your religion.
Indians tend to stick together when in foreign shores. While this is helpful in getting used to a new place, you tend to lose out on learning about new cultures and countries. Try to make friends from other countries too.
International Airways usually allows students to carry an extra piece of luggage, over and above the mandatory 2 suitcases and a handbag.
Keep your identification on your entire luggage, inside and outside. Missing luggage isn’t as rare as you expect it to be. For this reason, it also helps if you keep all important papers and cash in your handbag only, not in the suitcases.
Don’t carry Euro100 bills. People do not usually have change for a 100 in cabs and most shops. It is preferable to carry Euro10, Euro20 notes instead. Also do not carry more than Euro200 in cash if you can help it. Use a credit card, ATM card or travelers cheque. Less chance of loss or robbery this way.
Even an international demand draft usually takes about 2 – 4 weeks to get cashed. Carry enough money with you to last you for the first month or so.
Get an International Driving Permit if possible. It is needed to get a driver’s license
in foreign. A driver’s license is an important identification card in abroad, right after your passport. Since you do not want to carry your passport everywhere, it makes sense to get a license. You will need one for cashing a cheque, even issuing one, for renting a car or a house, in fact for most transactions. If you do not know driving, you can even ask the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a non-driving license to you, used only as an ID card.
Learn to ride a bicycle in case you do not already know it. Students on most campuses ride bicycles – they’re cheaper and healthier than cars. An old bike costs about Euro50 – 60, while a new one will set you back by Euro90 or more.
Keep a day’s change of clothes in your handbag. This way, if the airline screws up real bad and loses your entire luggage, you will not have to buy clothes immediately.