Germany is the most populous member of the European Union, with almost 83 million inhabitants. The country is known for its turbulent history and relationship with neighbouring countries. However, in the 21st Century, Germany has established itself as a global powerhouse. It has a strong economy, with the 5th largest GDP in the world (2017). This makes it a fantastic place for employment once your studies are complete. It boasts a universal healthcare system, environmental protection and tuition-free higher education system.
Whilst the climate does change from the Northwestern and Coastal regions of the country as you head inland, the overall climate of Germany is moderate. The country tends not to have any long periods of cold or hot weather.
With a long and established tradition for culture and tourism, Germany has many interesting and historical attractions that are worth paying a visit! Many of the museums and art galleries throughout the country offer reduced prices for students, which is definitely worth taking advantage of.
The top tourist attractions in Germany include:
- Oktoberfest (Munich)
- Berlin Wall (Berlin)
- Kölner Dom (Cologne)
Cost of Studying & Living in Germany
Germany uses the Euro (€) for its currency.
Many public institutions in Germany offer their programmes for a very small price. Generally they ask for an admin/registration fee of €50-€250 per semester. Depending on the university of choice, this applies to EU and non-EU students. However, in the state of Baden-Württemburg, institutions can charge a fee of €1,500 per semester for non-EU students. Private universities are permitted to set their own tuition fees, so they can charge anything up to €20,000 per year. When choosing your institution, make sure you are aware of fees and budget for your situation.
Scholarships are available for study in Germany. DAAD maintains a scholarship database that you can search through. You should be aware that application for scholarships will be competitive, therefore you should not rely on this to fund your studies.
It is recommended that international students budget around €800-€900 per month. This should cover your rent, food, travel and entertainment costs. If you live in a big city such as Hamburg or Munich, your living costs may be higher, so be aware of this. In many German cities, discounts are available for students. These apply to museums, art galleries, restaurants and leisure activities.
Part-time work is a great way for students to earn money whilst they study. If you are from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you are permitted to work as many hours per week as you wish. However, if you work over 20 hours per week, you must pay towards national insurance. To save money, and to make sure that their studies are priority, many students choose to work 20 hours or less per week. If you are from a non-EU country, you are permitted to work 120 full days or 240 half days per year. If you wish to work more than this, you must request permission from the Agentur für Arbeit (local employment agency) and the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners’ registration office). If you choose to work, some German language skills will be helpful, and it is a great chance to improve those skills.
If you wish to study in Germany, you need to have a valid health insurance policy. If you hold an EHIC card, all of your healthcare treatment you need is covered in Germany. Public health insurance plans are also valid from the following countries:
- Member states of the EU
If you are from any other country, you need to make sure that you have health insurance that is valid for your stay in Germany. Your institution will be able to provide you with information regarding this. If you take out a German public health insurance policy, this will cost around €80 per month until you are 30 or have studied for 14 semesters.
If you are from a country within the EEA, as well as Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, you do not need a visa to study in Germany as long as:
- You are studying for over three months
- You have enrolled at an approved university or other higher educational institution
- You have sufficient income (from any source) to live without requiring income support
- You have valid health insurance.
Students from countries outside of the EEA will need a visa to study in Germany. You can start this process at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country for €60. Within 2 weeks of your arrival you will need to register with the Aliens Registration Office and you local registration office to obtain a residency permit. You will receive a two-year residency permit, and this can be extended if it is needed. You must apply for this extension before your permit expires.
For more information regarding the visa requirements and application process, you can visit the German Federal Foreign Office website.
The official language of Germany is German. Many courses are offered in both German and English, however some are only offered in one language. If your course is taught in German, you will need to prove your German language skills are good enough. You can do this by passing either the TestDaF or the DSH before applying. If your course is taught in English, you will need to prove your English language skills are sufficient. You can do this by providing evidence of scores of an accepted English language test. These tests are known as the IELTS and TOEFL. You should check with your institution to see what their required test scores are, and what tests they accept. If your language skills in German or English do not meet the required standard, many institutions offer language courses to help you improve.
If your course is offered in English, it is still encouraged that you try your best to engage in the new language. Speak to your coursemates and locals to pick up language, and make an effort to communicate in German. This skill will look fantastic on your CV!
The capital city of Germany, Berlin is home to more than 3.7 million people. This makes it the second most populous city in the EU. One third of the city’s area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals and lakes, making it a beautiful city to explore! Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media and science, and it has a strong economy based in a many different sectors. In 2016, around 18% of enrolled students had an international background, making Berlin perfect for students wanting to mix with other cultures.
Berlin is known for its world renowned universities. The city has four public universities, as well as over 30 other higher education institutions, including private universities. These include the Humboldt University, the Freie Universität and the Universität der Künste. There are a diverse range of specialist institutions in Berlin, so there will be a course offered to suit everyone!
Made famous by Oktoberfest, Munich is commonly associated with beer. As well as this, Munich is also a major centre of art, technology, finance, education, business and tourism. According to the 2018 Mercer survey, Munich was named as the city in Germany with the highest quality and standard of living, as well as being third in the world. It is the perfect place for international students to study and work, with 37.7% of its population being from a foreign background in 2013.
Munich is a leading location for science and research, along with philosophy and business. The Ludwig Maximilian University and Technische Universität München were two of the first 3 German universities to be awarded the title of ‘Elite University’ by a selection committee of academics and member of the Ministries of Education and Research of Germany. Other institutions include the Munich University of Applied Sciences, the Munich Business School and the International School of Management.
Bremen is a commercial and industrial city, with a population of around 2.4 million. The city boasts many historical galleries and museums and a large number of multinational companies and manufacturing companies. The city’s football team Werder Bremen are the four time national champions.
The city is home to several public and private higher education institutions, in many fields. This includes the University of Bremen, which has 18,000 students. You will also find the University of the Arts, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and the Jacobs University Bremen.