28 Nov Top-notch free education, in English, for international students in Germany
Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s true!
Germany is quickly becoming one of the most attractive destinations for international students in the world. The Institute for International Education estimates that Germany welcomes around 300,000 international students every year, and the numbers are growing. Currently, more than 10,000 U.S. citizens are studying at German Universities, an increase of 25 percent since 2009. Also, the intake of Indian students has more than doubled since 2010; and, in Europe, Germany is only second to Spain in attracting students from Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela – for language reasons, obviously.
Why the sudden increase? What makes Germany so popular? Because German Universities offer international students ‘the best deal’ in terms of quality of education, tuition fees and scholarships, work facilities and quality of life. Having myself completed a PhD in Germany; I can definitely vouch for that! But if you don’t want to take my word for it, let’s look at some facts!
To begin with, tuition fees at German Universities are very low, or even free. That being said, students in Germany may still have to pay certain fees, which only amount to a few hundred Euros, and normally go towards a semester ticket (which allows you to use public transportation for the entire semester) or access to a student union. Unlike the U.S. – where tuition has grown 500 percent since 1985 and continues to surge – German Universities believe that education is a right, not a privilege.
Why is that? Well, because Germany, which is known worldwide for its technological advances, has understood that the key to success is to find, train and retain highly skilled workers. Not only from within the country, but also from around the globe: from Asia to,the Americas, and beyond.
This brings us to the quality of education you can get in Germany. Reflecting on the country’s technological advances where companies and Universities work together, on the availability of state-of-the-art research facilities not only at its Engineering Universities; but also in Social Sciences, Medicine and so on – it comes as no surprise that. German Universities rank with the best in the world. According to Times Higher Education ranking, Germany takes 36 places out of the top 200 universities in Europe, and 11 places in the top 50 across Europe. As Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, explained in a 2014 interview published here , tuition fees “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”
On top of that, Germany is also a European leader in providing funding for research and development. This means substantial scholarships for international students. For example, the German Academic Exchange Service and the German Research Foundation – both of which support international academic co-operation – provide full tuition waver (if tuition is applicable), monthly stipends, travel allowance, study and research allowances, intensive German courses, as well as health insurance. While students in Germany graduate with zero debt, those in countries like the U.S., Canada and the U.K. are bound to hefty student loans they must carry well into their adulthood.
What about the language, you may ask. Though it might help if you speak some German, depending on where you live, you most certainly don’t have to. There are more than 900 programs taught entirely in English, which cover subjects from social sciences, to politics and engineering, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. So you don’t have to know German prior to coming to Germany and, as many international students do, you can learn it along the way. And only if you insist. That is because if you live in certain areas, such as Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain or Prenzlauer Berg – Berlin’s most popular neighbourhoods which with Americans and Brits priced out of their homelands – you will barely ever need to use a word of German. The same in Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and other major German cities.
To continue, Germany’s commitment to attracting a highly skilled labour force also translates in openhearted after study work facilities. The German law stipulates that, every year, a student can work for 120 full days or 240 half days with a minimum wage of 8.51 Euro per hour. And, upon graduation, he or she also gets an extra 18 months to search for employment – which is not hard in a country with low unemployment levels and a reputation of providing quality jobs for students.
And finally, the quality of life! Four German cities – Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Berlin – have made it to top ten best cities in the world for their quality of life: social, economic and political stability, safety, health and education, culture and avant-garde, infrastructure, housing, nature and recreation, and so on. Not to mention fun – particularly in Berlin, a centre for creativity where art and party lovers find heaven on earth; or Munich with its legendary Oktoberfest… Now, that is something you shouldn’t miss!