The German-speaking population has been an inseparable part of the world’s greatest creations in both arts and sciences; thus almost every academic discipline has a long and outstanding tradition of success stories, in Germany and beyond. Add this to that the fact that as of October this year Germany abolished all tuition fees for national and international students alike, offering free internationally recognized degrees for every prospective student. There you have it: the ideal study abroad destination.
No wonder students from all around the world are confused as to why can every other country cannot make such a convenient move as Germany. However, the lack of tuition fees is just one of many benefits of studying in Germany. Let’s go through all the advantages Germany has to offer to international students…
1. No tuition fees at public universities in Germany
Higher education in Germany is mainly funded by the state and as such it is literally free of charge for domestic and international students alike. The German higher education system consists of around 400 institutions, divided into public “tuition free” institutions that host over 2.4 million students across Germany, and a smaller number of private institutions that enroll less than 5% of the total student body.
In the past decade, Germany has been politically struggling to ban tuition fees throughout the whole country; yet as a decentralized federal country it was difficult to bring all 16 of the federations to agree. In October 2014, consensus was reached and Germany is now offering access to free higher education to all students, regardless of their origin.
2. Excellent higher education staff members and infrastructure
Higher education in Germany consists of three different types of institutions:
Universities of Applied Sciences
Technical, Art, Film and Music Colleges
Most public universities in Germany date from the Middle Ages, barring a significant tradition of qualitative education and prominent names in various academic disciplines. Other institutions were either founded after the Second World War or fairly recently, including most of the private universities in Germany.
Universities in Germany are known to excel in both infrastructure and curricula. Optimal facilities providing contemporary technology, and a diversified professional staff that contributes to compounding an enlightening curricula, ensure promising future generations of experts regardless of the discipline. Innovation, international cooperation and practice-oriented studies are considered to be the revolutionary roads to a world-class education.
3. Internationally recognized degrees
Universities in Germany now all operate under the Bologna reform, which ensures all students get a unified and internationally recognized degree such as bachelor’s, masters or PhD.
BA/BSc equals 6 semesters of study
MA/MSc equals to 2-4 semesters, depending on the program
PhD equals 4-6 semesters, depending on the program
This applies to most academic disciplines, except for medicine, law and pharmacy. In these subjects students are still educated in the traditional way; a state exam is conducted at the end of studies, and the course lasts a few more semesters than an ordinary bachelor’s degree.
4. Study programs taught in English
Studying in Germany not only comes for free, but you can also do it in English if your German language skills are not so good. English is an international and widely spoken language, taught as a second language in the majority of schools around the world. A fresh start in a new country, a new university AND a new language can be tougher than you think; therefore you might want to go easy on yourself and take up an international program taught in English while your German language skills advance, and then perhaps switch to studying in Germany.
5. Great job opportunities
Regardless of the free tuition fee policy, studying in Germany doesn’t come entirely for free – you still need to meet the living costs. Therefore many international students tend to look for a job to support themselves while studying. It is very easy for EU students to find a job, as there are no limitations whatsoever. Meanwhile students from non-EU countries have to apply for a work permit, and their working hours are limited to 190 full days or 240 half days per year.
Students from countries outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland are not permitted to work freelance or self-employed. However, this has seldom been an issue since Germany is a very well-developed country where the economy supports thousands of new jobs every day, giving the majority of international students the possibility of finding a decent job.
It’s worth mentioning that practice-oriented universities in Germany have agreements with great companies, providing students with internships. These may not always be paid, but could lead to a great future job after obtaining your degree.
6. A chance to explore all aspects of life in Germany
Student life in Germany thrives on adrenaline and curiosity. German people are friendly but give you privacy; mutual respect and order are part of the daily routine; and cultural diversity is worth exploring in every inch of the country, as it makes you feel part of one entity rather than a total stranger.
Outdoor activities are pretty popular in Germany, including sports, hiking, cycling, skiing and more – so students who consider themselves athletic are going to fit in just fine. As most international students choose to live in metropolises, they’ll find lots of activities to fill their spare time; hanging out in bars, clubbing, theater and cinema are all part of student life in Germany. Most of the great German cities are artsy and have a vivid underground music scene, full of hipster fashion, books and ideals which all make for an enlightening and interesting experience.
If you get tired of the frenzy, you’ll find that Germans are for the most part more private people, who prefer smaller gatherings behind closed doors, enjoying their food and beverages in a more intimate atmosphere. Once you have a chance to join local friendship groups, you will start learning about “real” life in Germany.
Germans are by all means green. Parks and green spaces are part of every neighborhood and remain the ideal space to calm the mind. Travelling in and out of the country promises surreal landscapes, great architecture and loads of historical data to be revealed.
Another true advantage to life in Germany is the excellent public transport, which is efficient, safe and fast. As an additional perk of studying in Germany, you get a travel card for free by paying enrollment and administrative taxes that are ridiculously low.
7. Staying in Germany after your studies
Finally, after studying in Germany, you’ll have the chance to stay on and seek work after you graduate. The law allows international graduates to stay for an additional 18 months to seek work, and you may even end up staying longer, if that is what you wish.