Student Guide to Germany

Student Guide to Germany
Study Abroad Expert June 11, 2024

If you’re overwhelmed by the abundance of information about studying in Germany, don’t worry— you’re in the right place for help. Within this blog, Shuraa Education aims to simplify the process and offer guidance on every step of Study in Germany. From understanding visa requirements to navigating university applications, we’re here to provide comprehensive support tailored to your needs. Let’s explore the exciting opportunities Germany’s education system offers together. Keep reading as we shed light on your journey, ensuring you’re well-equipped and confident to pursue your academic goals in one of Europe’s most renowned destinations. 

Why to Study in Germany? 

Studying in Germany offers numerous benefits, including the significant advantage of waived tuition fees. Students can access high-quality education at affordable rates and benefit from a strong economy. 

Furthermore, students pursuing higher education in Germany enjoy the flexibility of selecting from a diverse range of programs and institutions. With hundreds of undergraduate courses available across various types of higher education institutions—including business schools, art schools, colleges, technical colleges, universities, and universities of technology, both private and state-funded—students have ample choices to cater to their academic interests and career goals. 

Study in German Education System 

The educational landscape in Germany stands apart from that of many other countries, characterised by unique features and conducted primarily in German. Public universities, funded by the government, typically do not impose tuition fees or only charge a nominal administration fee at the outset of the academic year. In contrast, private universities rely on student fees for financial support, often resulting in higher costs. While public universities outnumber their private counterparts, German law emphasises accessibility to education for all, leading to the stopping of tuition fees in some areas and minimal fees in others. 

Study in Germany tends to lean towards theoretical learning, with professors dedicating extensive hours to lectures. After each term, students undergo assessments comprising final examinations, presentations, assignments, and practical projects, the composition of which varies depending on the subject. Additionally, practical education opportunities are integrated into the curriculum through mandatory internships in specific fields, enriching students’ learning experiences beyond the classroom. 

Rising Presence: Indian Students in Germany

The number of Indian students pursuing education in Germany has witnessed a remarkable surge, experiencing a 26% increase to reach 42,997 during the 2022-23 winter semester. This spike starkly contrasts with the overall 3.7% growth in international student enrollment. Indians now constitute the largest cohort of foreign students in Germany, lured by the esteemed reputation of its universities and the affordability of education. 

An intriguing insight reveals that most Indian students, accounting for 60%, opt for engineering programs. In contrast, others gravitate towards disciplines such as Law, Management, and Social Studies (22%), Mathematics and Natural Sciences (14%), and various other fields (4%). Their educational pursuits predominantly lead them to enrol in universities (58%), although Universities of Applied Sciences (HAW) also attract a sizable portion of Indian students (42%). 

Male students constitute 70% of the Indian student population in Germany, with females comprising the remaining 30%. However, this gender distribution might shift, reflecting broader shifts in educational accessibility and aspirations. The substantial rise in Indian student enrollment underscores the increasing allure of German higher education, underscoring its capacity to draw diverse talent and foster international collaboration. 

Cities such as Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, and Munich emerge as the primary destinations for Indian students seeking to study in Germany. 

Admission Requirements to Study in Germany 

The admission requirements to study in germany are as follows:  

Bridge Program 

Indian undergraduate applicants must complete a one-year bridge program to accommodate the additional schooling year required in Germany (13 years vs. 12 in India). Proficiency in German is necessary for enrollment in this program. 

Language Proficiency Test 

International applicants, including those from India, must pass a language proficiency test such as TestDaF or DSH before entering a degree program. 

Academic Records 

Indian students must meet minimum academic standards, typically 70% or above in Standard XII. Foundation and diploma programs are available for those with around 60%. 

Age Requirement 

Students must be at least 18 years old before beginning their degree program. 

Document Submission 

Required documents include attested copies of Standard X, XII, and Bachelor’s degree (if applicable) mark sheets, two academic reference letters, and, if applicable, two letters of recommendation can be from anywhere. 

Additional Documents 

Applicants should provide a Statement of Purpose, resume, photocopies of language proficiency and GRE/GMAT scores (if applicable), and a portfolio for art, design, or architecture programs. 

Supporting Documents

Include certificates of achievements in extracurricular activities, proof of funds via a blocked account, and proof of health insurance coverage. 

These requirements may vary by university, so applicants should verify specific criteria with their chosen institution. 

Accommodation Options for Students in Germany 

Your first decision regarding accommodation in Germany revolves around whether you prefer university-managed housing or renting from a private landlord. University-managed options often offer both catered and self-catered arrangements. Opting for catered accommodation means your meals are prepared for you, providing convenience and certainty regarding meal expenses. 

Once you’ve determined your preference, the accommodation office at your university becomes your primary point of contact. They can inform you about the available housing options on campus. In cases where university housing is unavailable or if you opt for private renting, the accommodation office can still assist by providing a list of private properties and landlords in the vicinity. Shuraa Education can also help you with the accommodation process in Germany.  

Regardless of your choice, you must familiarise yourself with your rights and obligations as a tenant. Typically, you’ll need to sign a tenancy agreement, which should be thoroughly reviewed before signing to ensure you understand the terms and conditions. 

University Enrollment Process 

Before commencing your studies at a German university, you must undergo the enrollment process, also known as registration. You gain permission to attend courses, sit for exams, and obtain an academic degree upon enrollment. Additionally, enrollment grants you access to various university facilities, including the library, sports grounds, and computer rooms. It’s important to note that re-enrollment is required at the end of each term before the specified deadline. 

Steps to Study in Germany for Free 

To pursue studies in Germany without tuition fees, students should follow these essential steps: 

  • Course Selection: Choose a suitable course of study that aligns with your academic and career goals. 
  • University/College Selection: Research and select universities or colleges in Germany that offer your desired course. 
  • Tuition Costs (if any) and Blocked Account: Understand any potential tuition fees and ensure you have the required funds deposited in a blocked account as per visa requirements. 
  • Living and Accommodation Costs: Calculate and budget for living expenses and accommodation costs during your stay in Germany. 
  • Apply: Complete the application process for your chosen course and university, ensuring all necessary documents are submitted on time. 
  • Obtain your German Student Visa: Apply for a German Student Visa after receiving acceptance from your university, adhering to visa application requirements. 
  • Transition and Life in Germany: Prepare for your journey to Germany and adjust to your new environment upon arrival. 

Application Fees for Studying in Germany 

Applying to colleges in Germany typically entails paying an application fee. The amount varies depending on the college and the specific course of study. Inquiring directly with each college regarding their respective application fees is advisable. 

Guidelines for Studying in Germany 

Navigating the path to admission typically involves the following steps: 

  • Research colleges and courses of interest. 
  • Reach out to schools and explore their websites for detailed information. 
  • Refine your selection of schools based on your preferences. 
  • Prepare for and take entrance exams, such as language proficiency tests or the GMAT/GRE. 
  • Craft Statements of Purpose (SOPs) and request Letters of Recommendation (LORs) as part of your application. 
  • Apply to the colleges that align with your academic and personal interests. 
  • Participate in video interviews for schools that shortlist you. 
  • Apply for a German Student Visa to facilitate your study journey upon acceptance. 

Intake Seasons 

The primary intake season for German universities is September, with application deadlines typically falling between February and May across various courses and institutions. Some universities may offer additional admissions in March, with deadlines from November to January. 

Language Exams 

TestDaF (Test of German as a Foreign Language) and DSH (German Language University Entrance Examination) are standardised language tests required for admission to German colleges. TestDaF can be taken at India and Germany testing centres, whereas DSH is exclusively administered at German universities. Although these tests differ in format, structure, and scoring, many colleges accept results from either exam. Therefore, the choice of which exam to undertake rests with the student. 

General Exams 

The GMAT is often required for MBA programs, predominantly taught in English with some German components due to its measurement of skills necessary for business and management education. Proficiency in German can be advantageous, but it’s only sometimes a prerequisite. Some universities may recommend or require GRE scores for Master’s programs, although they are not mandatory for all. 

Repetition and Fees 

GMAT can be taken an unlimited number of times, with a maximum of five attempts per year and a minimum 30-day gap between tests. 

Cost of Living 

The cost of living in Germany varies depending on location and personal lifestyle choices. Essential Study Guide to Germany for International Students: students include accommodation rent (on-campus or off-campus), groceries, utilities (power, water, gas, internet), phone bills, and textbooks. Additional expenses may include dining out, travel, car rental and insurance, cable TV, and airfare for trips to India. 

Educational Expenses 

In Germany, education costs are notably low, with some universities not charging any tuition fees. Many German universities receive funding from the state government, with only a nominal amount of tuition fees, if any, required. The specific amount varies depending on the university’s location, as each federal state has the autonomy to determine its tuition fee policies. States such as Bayern, Niedersachsen, Hamburg, and Nordrhein-Westfalen may impose tuition fees, while others do not. Private universities in Germany rely on student fees for financing, resulting in higher tuition costs than public institutions. 

Living Expenses 

International students planning to Study in Germany must demonstrate financial capability by transferring a minimum of 11,208 euros, which will be held in a blocked account until they arrive in the country. This amount equips students to cover living expenses for the first year of their studies. Once in Germany, students can access 934 euros per month from this blocked account to sustain their cost of living. 

Cost of Living in Germany 

Average Expense of a German Student  Cost 
Rent (including utility costs)  EUR 410 
Food  EUR 198 
Health insurance, doctor’s fees, medications  EUR 100 
Transportation costs (car/public transport)  EUR 89 
Tuition fees  EUR 76 
Recreation, culture and sports  EUR 65 
Clothing  EUR 46 
Semester contribution  EUR 36 
Working materials (books etc.)  EUR 31 
Telephone/Internet/radio and TV licence, postage  EUR 32 
Other expenses  EUR 144 

Cost of Average Everyday Items in Germany 

Everyday Items  Cost 
1 loaf of bread (approx. 500g)  EUR 2 
1 kilogramme of potatoes  EUR 0.99 
1 litre of milk  EUR 0.90 
1 bottle of mineral water (0.75 litres)  EUR 0.80 
1 cup of coffee (in a café)  EUR 2.50 
1 glass of beer (in a pub)  EUR 3 
1 pizza (in a restaurant)  EUR 7 
1 lunch (in the cafeteria)  EUR 2.50 
1 T-shirt  EUR 10-50 
1 pair of trousers  EUR 30 to EUR 100 
1 cinema ticket (with student discount)  EUR 6 
1 theatre ticket (with student discount)  EUR 6-30 
1 museum ticket (with student discount)  EUR 2-8 

Scholarships 

International students may receive fee waivers based on merit and financial need. Those with exceptional academic records, high performance on standardised exams, and notable extracurricular achievements stand a chance of being eligible for scholarship awards and financial assistance. Submitting all required documents by specified deadlines is crucial to maximising these opportunities. Moreover, the application’s presentation plays a significant role, as candidates are evaluated based on the image they project. 

Student Loan Eligibility Criteria 

Before applying for a loan, it’s essential to ascertain your eligibility. The typical eligibility criteria, adhered to by most banks, include: 

  • Indian nationality 
  • Strong academic background 
  • Enrollment in professional, technical, or other relevant courses of study 
  • Preference for job-oriented programs, as stipulated by most banks 
  • Admission to a foreign university or institution 
  • The minimum age requirement is 18 years; alternatively, parents can avail of the loan on behalf of the student. 

Course Eligibility 

Education loans are typically available for specific types of courses. Here are the qualifying criteria for various levels of study: 

  • For Undergraduate Programs: Job-oriented professional or technical courses provided by renowned universities. 
  • For Postgraduate Programs: Includes MCA, MBA, MS, or diploma courses. 

These courses may be offered by foreign universities or institutes approved by state and central governments. 

Loan Amount 

If your total tuition fee amounts to Rs 10 lakh, the bank may offer to provide 80% of the sum, requiring you to contribute the remaining 20%. This remaining portion is known as the margin amount. Typically, the maximum loan amount for overseas studies is approximately Rs 20 lakh as per bank policies. If the tuition fee exceeds this, you must secure additional funds independently. Some banks impose a processing fee as a fixed amount or a percentage of the total loan. For example, if the bank levies a one per cent processing fee, this will constitute an additional expense that you’ll need to cover. 

Required Documentation 

To initiate the loan process, you’ll need to furnish several documents. These typically include: 

  • The university’s Acceptance letter confirms your course selection and outlines the fee schedule. 
  • Mark sheet of the most recent qualifying examination, demonstrating your academic record. 

It’s important to note that documentation requirements may vary among banks, so verifying the specific requirements with your chosen bank beforehand is advisable. 

Conditions 

A residence permit is mandatory for students wishing to reside in Germany for longer than 90 days. Applicants must demonstrate to the visa officer that they possess sufficient finances to cover living expenses for one year, calculated at €934 per month. Student residence permits are typically valid for two years and must be renewed if the course duration exceeds this timeframe. 

A Residence Permit costs approximately €100, and the issuance process can take eight to 12 weeks. Given the considerable duration, international students should apply as early as possible. Visa applications must be submitted in person, with a fee of €75 (to be paid INR). Additionally, applicants should provide two sets of photocopies containing the following documents: 

  • Completed application form 
  • Declaration affirming the accuracy and completeness of provided information 
  • Cover letter elucidating the purpose of the visa application (a German translation may be required) 
  • Letter of Admission from a German university 
  • University certificates and transcripts, including degree certificates and mark sheets 
  • Proof of Language Proficiency (even if not mandated by the German university), with exceptions for PhD applicants and Erasmus Mundus Scholarship holders 
  • Proof of financial means 

Pre-Departure Checklist 

Before departing for Germany, it’s essential to complete several preparatory tasks: 

  • Book airline tickets 
  • Arrange accommodation in Germany 
  • Organise transportation to and from the airport to your residence in Germany 
  • Set up banking arrangements, including considering the purchase of traveller’s cheques 
  • Familiarise yourself with baggage and customs regulations 
  • Ensure all paperwork is in order with your home educational institution 

Gather and make copies of important documents to keep in your luggage and at home, including: 

  • Passport 
  • Airline tickets 
  • Travel insurance certificate 
  • Letter of Acceptance from the educational institution 
  • Key addresses and contact numbers 
  • Bank statements as proof of funds 
  • Prescriptions for any medication 
  • Traveller’s cheques, if applicable 
  • Medical and immunisation records 
  • Academic transcripts 

Work Permit 

As per German visa regulations, students can work part-time for up to 180 days or full-time for 90 days during an academic year. Notably, Germany uniquely permits students to engage in technical, part-time jobs related to their field of study. Some universities also offer on-campus part-time employment opportunities known as Hi/wi jobs. Interested students can inquire about these positions through their institute’s student placement cell. 

Spousal Visa 

Spouses and children may be eligible to accompany you to Germany while you pursue your studies, subject to certain conditions. These conditions typically involve demonstrating adequate financial means and suitable living arrangements. Each case is evaluated individually at the German embassy or consulate, with special consideration given to applicants who effectively communicate their circumstances.wo 

Residence Permit 

You must register with the state if your study program extends beyond 90 days. When applying for a residence permit, ensure you have the following documents: 

  • Confirmation of registration from your Resident Registration Office 
  • Proof of private or public health insurance coverage 
  • Student ID from your German university (certificate of enrollment) 
  • Proof of financial resources (if not previously provided during your entry visa application) 
  • Valid passport with visa 
  • Health certificate 
  • Rental contract for your accommodation 
  • Passport-sized photos 
  • Sufficient funds to cover the residence permit fee. 

Work Visa

International students receive a one-year residence permit upon completing their studies at a German university. During this period, they are encouraged to secure permanent employment aligned with their field of study. Suppose a student obtains a job in Germany within this one-year timeframe. In that case, they can apply for a residence permit with a work permit at the local Aliens Department or Ausländerbehörde. 

Career Opportunity 

Unlike the familiar concept of campus placements in India, where companies visit campuses for recruitment, German universities generally do not have structured placement programs. However, many German universities have Career opportunity cells that help with job searches and interview preparation. These services may include providing referrals to companies or facilitating connections with HR managers. In European countries like Germany, job hunting is largely self-driven, emphasising individual initiative in the employment search process. 

Wrapping up! 

This guide on studying in Germany has been helpful and informative. Should you have any further questions regarding this topic or if you are considering studying in Germany or abroad, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team of student counselling experts at Shuraa Education. You can contact us via text or email; we will gladly assist you. It’s worth noting that our counselling services are free to students. 

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