Germany is the ideal destination to study abroad: World-class education, exciting urban life embedded in beautiful landscapes, and a welcoming culture with people from all over the globe. Recognised as a hub for technology, research and innovation, Germany is an increasingly popular study destination for international students. The country's rich cultural history, high-quality education and flourishing economy attracts ambitious students from all over the world.
International students enjoy a number of added benefits from studying in Germany, such as part-time job opportunities and various financing options. Part-time jobs are readily available in Germany allowing you to help finance your studies. What's more, Germany's student visa and residency permit enables you to explore the rest of Europe from the country's central location. Given Germany's extensive transport system and well-connected flight and rail links, travel couldn't be easier!
Facts and figures on Germany’s higher education system
Germans somewhat ironically call their own country “the country of poets and thinkers”. Nonetheless: There are around 400 institutions of higher educations in Germany, many of which offer English-taught study programmes - about 1,000 in total. Many German universities score high in international rankings.
Not only can you expect a world-class education when you study in Germany. At most universities, it is even for free. That’s right: No matter what country you come from, most schools offer their education completely free of charge. There are, of course, some exceptions: mostly private schools, or study programmes for students with prior professional experience. Good to know: If you decide to stay and work in Germany after graduation, you can often deduct previous tuition fees from your income tax.
Cost of living
Living costs in Germany are relatively modest when compared to other Western European nations. On average, students can get by on 800 euros per month.
Rents in certain metropolitan areas, such as Hamburg or Munich, may be high, although in no way comparable to cities like Paris or London, especially with some flexibility regarding the part of town to live in.
Job market for graduates
Germany is a large economy with countless opportunities for foreign graduates. Unlike many other European nations, Germany's economy is not centered around one or two specific locations. Industrial hubs are scattered across the country: Hamburg is home to trade and media companies; Munich and Stuttgart are strong in automotive and manufacturing; Frankfurt is the leading financial capital. Strangely, Berlin does not have strong industrial presence but has developed into Europe's startup capital over recent years.
Speaking German is almost always a prerequisite especially for entry-level jobs. The common exceptions are jobs in tech/IT, and jobs at internationally oriented startups - particularly in startup hubs like Hamburg or Berlin.
Getting in and out of Germany is uncomplicated: Two of its airports, Frankfurt and Munich, are among the world’s largest, together serving several hundred connections in Europe and the world. Within Europe, both train and bus connections are also a viable option due to Germany's central location and thanks to dense networks of rails and highways.
Germany is located at the heart of Europe, bordering on nine other countries. Clockwise from the North, those are: Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Netherlands. That makes Germany an ideal destination if you're eager to explore other parts of Europe, as well.
Within Germany’s cities, you can expect a high standard of public transportation. Most large cities have a subway system, and extensive bus and streetcar line networks are the norm.
In order to fulfill student visa requirements, you will need to show proof that you have, or have access to, around €8,700 per year (~US$10,000) to cover your living costs, although you may find you need more, depending on your lifestyle and spending habits (the average student spends €850/US$975 a month). Living costs also vary depending on the location; according to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, Munich is currently the most expensive city in the country.
If you’re concerned about costs, there are scholarships available to support students studying in Germany at various study levels.
Before you leave your home country you should ensure you’ve purchased health insurance to cover you during your stay in Germany. This is required both before you enroll and before you get a student visa and/or residence permit. If you’re a resident of a country within the EU or EEA, there should be a social security agreement in place between your country and Germany. This means that if you have public health insurance in your home country, you should be covered in Germany as well. You will generally need to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to take advantage of this (free to obtain).
If your health insurance is not valid in Germany, expect to pay between €80 (US$92) and €160 (US$176) per month to cover this. The cost is higher if you’re over 30, and if you’re over 29 when starting your course you can only obtain private insurance.