Germany, also known as ‘the land of scholars’ is an extremely popular study-abroad destination for international students.The country, which boasts of being Europe’s biggest economy, and is also a part of the European Union, offers a variety of appealing quality education options and cultural diversities that make it a favorable educational destination for students coming from across the globe.
Germany’s rich vintage heritage, top notch higher education institutions with state-of-the-art lab and research resources, high impetus for learning innovations, courses designed to suit international needs, strong support base for high merit research and focus on developing individual talents – all these exceptional factors attract students from all over the world, including India, to come and pursue their higher education in Deutsch land.
This nation being almost the ‘centre of gravity’ of Europe also opens up abundant vistas of cultural and adventurous activities. It is a veritable welcome place offering diverse but yet specialised avantgrade courses at competitive costs without pockets being burnt. Besides this, Germany offers an all-in-one intellectual, cultural and entertaining cocktail of learning.
Germany is home to numerous world-class higher education institutions, with over 350 state and private universities. These globally reputed institutions offer a varied range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs. Most of these institutions display a unique blend of established university traditions, top notch facilities, and modern research and teaching methods. Also, these institutions offer internationally compatible Bachelor’s and Master’s courses, geared to cater to international employment requirements and a credit system that is crafted to permit the accretion and transfer of study and exam modules.
A majority of the higher education institutions in Germany offer courses in English, besides in the German medium, taking into account the huge international students’ base that the country boasts of.
Germany is continuously evolving as a newly favored study abroad destination for Indian students. This is clearly indicated in the fact that the country witnessed a more than100% rise in the number of Indian students going to Germany to pursue their higher education, in the academic year 2013-14, in comparison to the previous year. As per government estimates, as per DAAD (the German Academic Exchange service) 9619 Indian students are currently studying in various higher education institutions in Germany.
1) Overview of German Higher Education System
The German Higher Education System is marked by the highly valued principle of academic liberty. Germany has multiple varied higher educational institutions to suit various requirements, offering diverse varieties of courses, as per the students’ needs; all institutions combined offer more than 13,500 degree courses.
In Germany, we find different types of higher education institutions, including-
The Classical University – Classical or Traditional universities in Germany are better known as ‘Universitat’ or ‘Technische Hochschule’ (Technical University). These universities are stoutly research and theory-oriented, and offer doctoral programs on a wide range of subjects.
This form of higher education institutes also include universities that focus on a single area of specialization, such as medicine, sports, law or teacher training. Some examples of such institutes in Germany are- Hannover Medical School, the University of Lubeck, School of Veterinary Medicine and the German Sports University in Cologne. Specialized courses in Humanities, cultural sciences, business administration, agricultural and forest sciences, natural sciences, economics, etc are offered by most of these universities.
A wide range of academic disciplines are offered by Universitat. Admission to a Universitat is based on the general higher education entrance qualification (Abitur). Students having a qualified Masters degree, a diploma degree, a Staatsprufung, or a foreign equivalent are eligible for doctoral programs. Also, approval of the dissertation research is vital to receiving a doctoral degree. It is important to note that universities in many parts of Germany do not charge any tuition fees.
2) Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) – University of Applied Science is an institution that gives much focus on practical and professional knowledge in a specialized field. They differ from Universitat mainly on account of giving less importance to basic research.A wide range of practical oriented study courses are offered in these institutions. Fachhochschule is known for giving adequate practical training to skilled professionals in the international competitive market. There are approximately 156 Fachhochschule in Germany at present.
In several German States, these institutions are regarded as vocational academics, providing specialized skills as per industry requirements. They offer custom-made courses that will help students to meet the emerging international job requirements. These institutes are widely-known for hiring experienced practitioners and top managers of MNCs as lecturers. The courses offered are highly organized programs and cover subjects including- technology, business, IT, education, nursing, social work and design areas.
These institutions are ideal for students looking for a more praxis-oriented education. The demand for such institutes is on a rise, owing to the practical and short-term nature of the courses offered.
3) Colleges of Art, Film and Music (Kunstho-chschule / Musikhochschule) – Colleges of Art and Music are generally set up as a part of Universities and Fachhochschulen. These institutes cater to students looking for a career in the artistic field- Fine Arts, Performing Arts and Music. They offer courses in direction, production, writing in theatre, performing arts- drama, film and other media; design areas- industrial and fashion design, music, architecture, media and communication.
These institutes generally have a limited number of seats on offer and so, getting admission can be quite tough. Students who demonstrate intense artistic talent and skills are more likely to get admitted into such institutions. There are 53 State recognized Colleges of Art, Music and Film in Germany at present.
4) Private/Church-sponsored Institutions – Private and Church-sponsored institutions, recognized by the State, exist in considerable numbers in Germany. They include- church-maintained colleges, universities of cooperative education, colleges of education or colleges of public administration. In spite of the high tuition fees charged by these institutions, many students prefer them over others, owing to their superior standing in many aspects, ranging from compact study groups, strong collaboration with business and industry, practical focus, international accreditation and promising future career prospects for graduating students.
Germany’s Evangelical and Catholic churches run their own State-owned universities of applied sciences, which follow their own selection procedure.
Structure and Organization of courses offered in German Higher Education Institutes
The basic structure and organization of courses offered in German institutes are-
- Bachelor’s degree (first degree programs),
- Master’s degree (second degree programs),
Integrated one-tier long programs- Diplom, Magister Artium (combination of two major programs, or one major and two minors) and state examination (Staatsprufung fur das Lahramt), &
Doctorate programs (only offered by Universitat)
Bachelor’s degree is awarded after 3 to 4 years, depending on the course. Various first degree programs offered by German Institutes include-
- Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
- Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.)
- Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng.)
- Bachelor of Law (LL.B.)
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)
- Bachelor of Music (B. Mus.)
- Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)
Master’s degree is awarded after 1 to 2 years, depending on the course. PG (Post Graduate) courses require students to hold an academic degree. These programs are more practice and research oriented, and includes dissertation and thesis study. Various second degree programs include-
- Master of Arts (M.A.)
- Master of Science (M.Sc.)
- Master of Engineering (M. Eng.)
- Master of Law (LL.M.)
- Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
- Master of Music (M. Mus.)
- Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Some of the most popular courses, especially among international students, offered by varied German Higher Education Institutions include- B.A. in Business Administration, B.A. in Electrical Engineering/Electronics, B.A. in IT, B.A. in Translation Studies and B.A. in Environmental Studies, among others. Different types of courses involve varied methods of learning and teaching, including lectures, seminars, tutorials and revision courses. Also, students have to undergo internships for certain specific courses.
Procedure to apply for a Bachelor’s/Master’s level degree program in German Higher Education Institutes
To get admission into any German University for a Bachelor’s degree, minimum 13 years of schooling is mandatory, in the case of all German native students. However, in the case of international students, including students of Indian origin, who undergo 12 years of schooling in their native nations, they are required to complete a one-year University Entrance Preparation Course (Studienkolleg) in German, at a German University. The Studienkolleg course is specifically designed to ensure that the overseas candidate has the prescribed standard of German Knowledge level. After passing the Studienkolleg course, one becomes eligible to study at any University in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
In case the overseas candidate already possesses 13 years of schooling study experience, including 1-year of Bachelor study or any three year intermediate level study experience, then there is no need for the candidate to join the University Entrance Preparation Course. He/She is eligible for admission to any German Higher Education Institute, given the condition that the Institute follows English as the medium of teaching for the course selected by the candidate.
The basic qualification requirement to get admission into a German University for a Master’s program is a four years Bachelor degree. However, if the course selected by the candidate is taught in the German medium, than he/she is also required to pass any one of the five German language exams. Students with three years Bachelor level study degree from their country of origin might be required to pass a pre-Master course as well, prior to getting admitted for a Masters program in any German University. However, this requirement is not mandatory for all Masters level courses.
International students hoping to secure admission into any German Higher Education Institute should apply for the desired course directly to the International Office or the Registrar’s office at the University, in which they intend to pursue their higher studies. At the time of applying, students are required to produce their qualification certificates from their home nations, along with the requisite language proof certificates. International students are also required to pass a basic-level language test.
Once the eligible candidate has obtained the notice of admission from the University’s International Office or Registrar’s Office, he/she can register as a student at the respective German Institute of Higher Education. After the verification process, regarding the genuineness of the candidate’s certificates, and fulfillment of the visa conditions is complete, the candidate will be issued VISA.
New Initiatives proposed by the German Government in the field of Higher Education
The German Government inrecent years has introduced new initiatives and policies in the field of higher education in Germany, aimed at attracting more international students to pursue their higher studies in German Universities. The ‘Year of Germany and India 2011-12 programme’ was a big proposal designed to draw more Indian students to Germany. Huge investments have been made to promote German Higher Education Institutions and to make them widely-known among young Indians. Multiple conferences, workshops, fairs, interactive presentations, etc are being planned to celebrate 60 years of Indo-German diplomatic relations, with the primary target group being the socially-active and career-oriented English speaking and academic community, between the age group of 20 to 40 years. The program also lays emphasis on various job opportunities available for international students, after they have completed their higher education from one of the Higher Education Institutes in Germany.
The Excellence Initiative launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the German Research Foundation, aims to achieve excellence in education in Germany. The initiative encourages universities to compete for extra funding for their excellence clusters and graduate schools. Those institutes that propose excellent concepts for future development will be eligible for extra research funding, provided by the government. Through this program, the government aims at pushing billions of dollars towards radical research in Germany. Eleven German Universities have secured funding for the best future prospects, along with 45 graduate schools and 43 excellence clusters having secured extra funding for research. The Excellence Initiative is touted to make Germany an attractive global research location.
Germany has started accepting ‘the EU Blue Card’ as the work and residence permit for highly skilled workers from Non-EU nations. The EU Blue Card gives highly qualified professionals the permission to reside and work in Germany and in the EU (European Union). This new work and residence permit offers some favorable features for international students in Germany. It makes it easier for foreign graduates of German Universities to secure residence permit. It also promises a simpler temporary residence permit procedure for foreign researchers to come and stay in Germany, in course of carrying out their research work. Foreign graduates of German Universities will also be entitled to unhindered admission to the job market, which will enable them to get a suitable job that fits their qualification. After securing the desired job, there is no longer the need for the foreign national to get work permit from the Federal Employment Agency. However, Non-EU nationality professionals can only work for 90 days or 180 half-days every year, without a legitimate work permit.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which is the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation, awards special prize to those foreign nationality students, who have successfully completed their studies in Germany, who demonstrate illustrious traits in selected fields, and have showed remarkable social and intercultural commitment.
All these factors make Germany an ideal destination for international students to come and pursue their higher education. Students from all over the world converge here, in order to get benefitted from the modern international career opportunities that are available in abundance in Germany. It is now no surprise that Deutschland is considered as the ‘Land of Ideas’, as it exhibits a perfect and conducive higher education environment for the professional and holistic growth of a student. However, it is also vital that the candidate carries out a thorough analysis by research on different institutions, courses offered and the medium of teaching, prior to selecting his/her institute.
Haufig Gestellte Fragen
(Frequently Asked Questions)
Are rules and regulations for study across Germany uniform as a country?
No, there are as many sets of rules and regulations for studies in universities as there are number of states in Germany. Hence rules and regulations of each of the sixteen federal states have to be known based on the state in which the university is situated.
What are the major distinctions, especially in tuition fees between a government funded university and a funded University?
In most of the Universities numbering 240+, in the federally funded ones there almost no tuition fees to be paid. In contrast, private and church universities now numbering 140+, also offer a high quality education in specific areas of studies like in applied sciences with high tuition fees upto Euro 30000. Some advantages of these universities are the small study groups facilitating better teaching attention, specific industry linkages (like in the automotive sector) and their international focus.
Are there any specific international career programs in Germany which can be of interest to an Indian student?
Yes A student in Germany can gain experience abroad by spending a few semesters in Germany within the framework of an exchange programme with an Indian university (such an exchange programme is in existence between Germany and India)
Moreover, all international Bachelor, Masters and Phd programmes offered in German Universities are taught in English. All such courses offer high academic standard of teaching as well as well structured study programmes. Student advisory services are available to all such students. More details of such programmes can be had from ‘International Programmes Database’ on DAAD – The German academic Exchange Service.
Many courses in Medicine, Law Pharmacy, Education have excellent practical grounding with a 2-stage examination system – the first stage with a state examination and the second stage with a higher vocational /practical orientation a second state examination.
Is knowledge of German language mandatory?
For all German study programmes, knowledge and proficiency in German language is a pre-requisite, whereas in international study programmes and short courses comprising of one or two semesters german language certification is not mandatory.
The Two tests are considered mandatory to prove proficiency in German
1. DSH 2. Test Daf
While Test Daf can be taken in test centres in more than 90 countries and with tests given six times a year, D S H test can be taken in German universities only and mostly in the university that you are given admission to.
What are the normal costs to be considered before embarking on studies in Germany?
Normal costs you must consider are
- Tuition fees included in semester-contributions you make (this can be 200 – 250 euros per semester course-resources)
- Study-related expenses of books etc.,
- Health and accident risk insurance (about 80 to 100 euros per annum)
- Accommodation, food, clothing and other living and general expenses (total upto 800 euro a month)
Are admission and application procedures complicated?
Not complicated but are elaborate. One has to clearly understand the procedures, deadlines and details like NC clause application, where to apply if you are an Indian student, role of Uni-Assist-the single-widow document checking service on behalf of universities, documents needed with the application, the semester details with month deadlines for application and others. You need to be prompt, meticulous and structured in following these application and admission procedures.
Whom should I contact for my German study Visa?
You have to enquire and apply with the German Embassy New Delhi or the German consulate office near to your place of residence. Details can be had from the education help-desks there and from the German Embassy website as well.
Please furnish details of DAAD office in India.
There is a branch office of the German Academic Exchange Service
in India at No.2, Nyaya Marg,
New Delhi – 110021,
General Telephone : 011-47680968,
The services at DAAD are indeed extremely helpful and student friendly.