The German university system is one of the oldest in the world and has set the standard for higher education in many countries. The degrees awarded by German universities are highly regarded and recognized throughout the world by employers and academic institutions. The principal degree awarded in Germany for scientific subjects is the “Diplom” or Diploma, which is considered to be equivalent to the Master of Science or Master of Engineering degree awarded in, for example, the United States or the United Kingdom. Most students aim at achieving the Diploma, which is a professional qualification. The “Vordiplom” – ‘prediploma’ – is an intermediate stage in Germany, considered to be roughly equivalent to the level reached for a Bachelor of Science degree in America or Britain, although it is not a degree. The German higher degree, the doctorate, is equivalent to any in the world. For the international student an important feature of most German universities is that they do not charge tuition fees. University education in Germany is federally funded. Another important and attractive feature of the German system is the freedom that you have to plan and organize your own Work. Each faculty provides timetables and study plans, but the regulations permit students to individually vary the timing of courses and the content of particular seminars and projects. This enables you to construct a programme of study that is tailored according to your own personal needs and interests. Attendance at lectures and tutorials is for the most part not compulsory. But your course projects will be regularly assessed. These assessments, together with examinations, ensure that you meet the high standards required by the course.
Many of today’s students no longer want a purely theoretical education. A variety of comprehensive universities and universities of applied science in Germany offer balanced academic training necessary for a professional career. Practical experience in regional companies is often part of the curriculum. German companies are interested in attracting well-trained graduates from abroad. And in many cases, these former students can continue to work for the company as a foreign spokesperson once they return home.
Benefits of Studying in Germany
Germany has much to offer as a place to study – courses geared to international needs, internationally recognized qualifications such as Bachelor and Master, a credit system which allows the accumulation and transfer of study and exam modules.
A student aspiring to study in Germany should possess an above average or at least average academic record. All qualifications are assessed by relevant institutions to ascertain whether the student is eligible to be admitted into a certain course.
Since the medium of instruction in most German institutions is English, proficiency in German language is not a necessary criterion for admission decisions to be made. However, a student is expected to show his proficiency in the German language for better living. It is imperative that students have at least a basic knowledge of German.
It is prudent to start well in advance, as the procedure is a long one. A student should also enroll into a German language program as soon as he decides to pursue higher education in Germany. The doors of a university are open to a student only after he proves that he’s entitled to be admitted to an institution of higher education. This is good for those whose educational qualifications or certificates are recognized as equivalent to those in Germany. If this is not the case, the student must undergo an eligibility test. In this case, each Federal State lays down the decisive criteria for evaluation of foreign qualifications required for admission. The preparatory institutions attached to the institutions of higher education are responsible for preparing students to take the eligibility test. The following documents are generally required.
- A certified copy of the certificate for admission to higher education or in other words the foreign high school qualification.
- A translation (from an official translator) of the high school certificate.
- A passport-size photograph. Bio-data with exact information about one’s education (schools visited, exams taken etc).
- Proof of higher studies attended till now if applicable Language certificate as proof of required German language knowledge.
- An officially certified photocopy of the assessment test to determine the eligibility of foreign applicants to studies at institutions of higher education in Germany with subjects and mark list, if the test has been taken.
Certified copies of your academic transcripts and degree certificates. If the certificates are in a language other than English, German, or French, you are expected to send official English or German translations of the certificates.
Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
Most universities may ask you to send an essay or personal statement. This should include the reasons for you wishing to pursue a particular course in Germany, and specifically in that particular university. Your essay is assessed not only for its content but also for your clarity of thought, your language ability, your goals, and other relevant things.
Recommendations are expected to be from your professors, lecturers or employers. A lot of weight age is given to the letters of recommendations in making the admission decision. Some universities send their own recommendation forms with ratings, while others may expect them on official letterheads. The recommendation letters have to be sealed and the person recommending you should sign on the cover.
Deadlines and Submission
German universities are very particular about deadlines. Any application reaching late is not processed. The deadlines are as follows:
- Winter Semester (October)—July 15th
- Summer Semester (April)—January 15th
In case you need to send your applications for central assessment first, then the deadlines are as follows:
- Winter Semester (October)—May 15th
- Summer Semester (April)—November 15th
After your qualifications are cleared, you have to then apply to the respective universities before the above-mentioned deadlines.
Student Visa procedure
Any international student who intends to undertake full-time study in a course at a registered institution of higher education in Germany needs to obtain a Student Visa. The Visa, which is granted initially for a period of up to three months by the German Embassy/Consulates General, permits the holder to enter Germany. However, it will be extended by the competent Foreigners’ Registration Office (‘Auslanderbehorde’) when the student duly registers himself/herself within the first three months of his/her stay in Germany. The extension is done for one year at a time, up to the duration of the course. A Student Visa is valid for multiple entries.
Applying for a Student Visa
To be considered for a Student Visa, the applicant must first complete an application form for a ‘longer stay visa in duplicate. An application will not be accepted unless it is made in the prescribed form and with the correct fee 2 passport size photos are needed for the application. The fee is a visa service charge and is non-refundable, irrespective of the outcome of the visa application.
Applications will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
- Evidence of Enrollment
Whether the applicant’s German language skills are adequate for the purpose of the proposed course. Relevance of the proposed course for the applicant’s current academic and employment circumstances Applicant’s intentions to comply with visa conditions and leave Germany at the end of the authorized period of stay Applicant’s migration history and ties with Germany Adequate Financial Resources. This involves an assessment of the applicant’s or his/her sponsor’s ability to finance all expenses pertaining to the applicant’s education in Germany including cost of living and a German medical insurance.
It is essential that the applicant meets the German health requirements. This involves the proof of a recent medical check-up and a chest x-ray. The medical certificate should clearly identify the person examined.
Once the visa application form and documentation as listed above are completed, they will be sent by the visa section to the competent German authority (‘Auslanderbehorde’) for final approval. Obtaining this final approval may take up to three/four weeks. Only after completion of this procedure can the Student Visa be issued.