STUDYING IN GERMANY, A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOUR CHILD

What are the benefits of studying abroad?

Living in a foreign country provides young people a chance to see and experience life outside of their backyard. It introduces them to new perspectives and ideas which they would have otherwise never encountered. Foreign experience shapes and enriches one’s personal development.

Even if a foreign culture doesn’t appear so foreign at first glance, living abroad certainly expands one’s horizons. And it also helps one overcome prejudice and intolerance. Young people make many new friends during their study visit abroad – and these international friendships continue to play an important role throughout their lives.

Studying abroad will provide your child with much more than a good dose of self-confidence. It will also strongly benefit his/her professional career. International experience qualifies young people for professions in a globalised world. A period of study in a foreign country looks very good on one’s curriculum vitae and will prove beneficial when your child applies for jobs after university. By studying in a foreign-speaking country, your child will be able to quickly improve his/her language proficiency while making international contacts at an early stage.

Nowadays studying abroad does not necessarily prolong one’s time at university. Most universities around the world recognise the academic credit which their students receive in Germany. In addition, many universities have developed special degree programmes tailored to the needs of international students in recent years.

In short, a study visit abroad is a worthwhile investment in your child’s future.

What are the advantages of studying in Germany?

German universities have an excellent reputation throughout the world. They produce significant and internationally applicable advances in research and innovation.

Many pioneering inventions were created in Germany. The list of German Nobel Prize winners is long – sixty-eight alone in the field of science and medicine. These include Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Robert Koch, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Harald zur Hausen. And Germany isn’t called the “land of poets and thinkers” for nothing. It has produced great philosophers like Kant, Hegel and Adorno, poets like Goethe, Heine and Brecht, and renowned composers, such as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

Science and research have a long tradition in Germany and still play an important role today. The oldest university was founded in Heidelberg in 1386. There are over 390 nationally accredited universities located in more than 180 cities and towns in Germany These universities offer a wide range of opportunities to study and research with more than 16,000 degree programmes, 1,000 of which are internationally oriented.

Your child will find optimal conditions for gaining a successful education in Germany. The facilities at universities and research institutes are well-equipped. Students receive intensive academic advising, but are also taken seriously as future scholars and scientists.

And, of course, German is one of the most important scientific languages and is shared by over 125 million people worldwide. Although English is a must, German is a plus. Most people regard English as essential, but knowing another foreign language can improve one’s career chances in a globalised world. That’s why learning German is a good idea!

How much German will my child have to know?

To feel at home in a foreign country, it usually helps to have a good grasp of the native language. And the same goes for Germany.

It would be ideal if your child could already speak some German before entering university in Germany. To save time and money, your child could enroll in a German language course at his or her university or Goethe Institute in your home country. Another way to improve one’s German skills is to sign up for an online language course offered by Deutsch-Uni Online (DUO) (www.deutsch-uni.com) or Deutsche Welle (www.dw.de), for example. That being said, nobody at a German university expects international students to speak perfect German when they arrive here.

The level of language proficiency required for studying at a German university depends entirely on the degree programme your child chooses.
Those who choose an international degree programme offered in English require English first and foremost. German universities currently offer more than 1,000 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programmes in English.
Those who wish to enter a German-language degree programme must prove they have attained a certain level of German language proficiency. There are several types of examinations and standardised tests which universities accept as proof of language proficiency, e. g. the TestDaF.

There are many opportunities to learn German in Germany. In addition to language instruction offered in combination with degree programmes, many universities organise language courses in the summer so that foreign students can improve their German proficiency before their studies commence

Are there university preparatory courses in Germany?

Perhaps you are concerned that your child won’t be able to meet the demands of a university-level degree programme in a foreign country. German universities, however, offer special courses that are designed to prepare prospective students for study in Germany.

For example, foundation courses are academic preparatory programmes which many universities offer international applicants. These courses help students gain the language and academic skills necessary for study in Germany. They often include an introduction to the German university system and scientific working methods.

Participating in a summer course is another way of becoming familiar with academic requirements in Germany. Universities throughout the country offer such courses to prospective students during the summer months.

Where and what should my child study?

Universities in Germany offer degree programmes for all interests and levels of education. International students may:
Enter an undergraduate degree programme as a first-semester student.
Gain foreign experience through a university exchange programme.
Pursue a master’s or doctoral degree.

With over 390 nationally-accredited universities and 16,000 degree programmes in Germany, it may be difficult to decide on where and what to study. The list becomes more manageable once a student chooses one of three types of institutions to attend:
■ Universities (scientifically-oriented study)

■ Universities of applied sciences (practice-oriented study)

■ Colleges of art, film and music (artistic study)

Most universities in Germany are publicly financed. Around five percent of all students are enrolled at more than 100 private universities. Everyone else is registered at public uni­versities, the reason being that private universities tend to charge high tuition fees. The quality of instruction at both types of universities, however, is comparably high.

How long should my child stay?

You may believe – and rightly so – that the decision to study in Germany is one of those momentous, life-changing decisions. You might be uncertain whether a longer study visit is right for your child. Perhaps a long visit will conflict with the academic and life plans your child has made.

There are a number of short-term study opportunities in Germany which can enhance students’ academic careers at home and make their CVs look even more impressive.

German universities offer summer courses each year usually between June and September. They offer a wide range of language courses, along with specialised courses in numerous disciplines. Summer courses allow students to get to know the country and the people, and become acquainted with life at a German university.
Your child’s university choice, might have an exchange programme for short-term study visits to Germany. Such programmes frequently allow participants to spend just one semester in Germany. Your child may wish to gain some international work experience, for example, by completing an internship. Many students supplement their degree programmes with an internship to gain professional experience and familiarise themselves with the international labour market.

It might turn out that a summer course, semester abroad or internship will lead to a longer stay. For example, within four semesters your child could receive a top-rate German master’s degree that is recognised around the world. On a personal level, staying longer is more rewarding, as your child will become more familiar with Germany and have the chance to polish his/her German language skills.

How much does it cost to study in Germany?

Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural events, etc. are generally equivalent to the EU average.

In addition to living expenses, the cost of studying in Germany includes a health insurance premium, semester contribution and possible tuition fees. Most students in Germany attend public universities, which usually don’t charge tuition fees for undergraduate programmes and many master’s programmes. However, there are certain master’s degree programmes which come with tuition fees – in some cases, of more than 10,000 euros per semester (= ½ year). Private universities charge relatively high tuition fees as well. All students at university have to pay an additional fee called a semester contribution. This fee generally covers the cost of a public transport ticket, called a Semesterticket, which can be used on all modes of public transportation in and around the city. The semester contribution varies depending on the university, but generally costs around 200 – 250 euros per semester.

It’s difficult to determine exactly how much money a student in Germany needs every month. As a rule, students can live on less money in smaller cities than in larger ones. According to recent statistics, students in Germany live on an average of 650 euros per month, the largest portion of which are accommodation costs.

Remember, every international student must show they have adequate financial resources at their disposal by submitting what is called “proof of financial support”. You will have to certify that your child has around 8,640 euros at his/her disposal for one year in other to apply for a study visa.
International students are subject to restrictive labour laws in Germany. A part-time job is good for extra spending money

Does my child need a visa to enter the country?

As an international student, your child may need a visa to enter the country depending on where he/she comes from and how long he/she intends to stay. Citizens of EU-member countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland only require a valid personal ID card to enter the country.

Citizens from other countries generally require a visa if they wish to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days. Visa applications must be submitted before entering the country. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States are allowed to enter Germany­ without such a visa, but must apply for a residence permit after arrival.

Special rules apply if the visit to Germany does not exceed 90 days. In such cases, citizens from the following countries need not apply for a visa: Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, Uruguay and Venezuela. These rules apply if you are a citizen of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro or Serbia, and hold a biometric passport.

For more information about visa applications and current regulations, we recommend contacting the staff at the German embassy or consulate in your home country. They will be happy to answer your questions.

How safe is Germany?

In international ranking, Germany is a safe country. There is no reason to be worried about crime. People move about freely through German country villages or large cities, day or night, without taking special safety precautions.

German police are regarded as being helpful and reliable. You can call the police free of charge from any telephone in Germany by dialing 110.

Practically every country in the world maintains an embassy or consulate in Germany. Therefore, if problems arises, your child will be able to contact a representative from their home country.

Furthermore, if your child should have any questions about personal safety or related problems, he/she can always contact the International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) at the university.

How good is medical treatment in Germany?

Patients in Germany receive excellent medical treatment. With its dense network of highly qualified doctors, the German health care system is regarded as one of the best in the world. Should your child need medical treatment, there is probably no better place to receive top-notch health care than in Germany.

Those who study in Germany require health insurance. Before your child travels to Germany, it is important to clarify whether he/she is insured. You might discover that the health insurance policy you have in your home country also covers the cost of medical treatment in Germany. For example, students who have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are also covered in Germany. However, if your insurance policy does not provide such coverage, your child will have to take out a health insurance policy in Germany. Public health insurance costs about 80 euros per month.

We can help you with questions concerning health insurance and recommend affordable policies. Public health insurance companies usually operate branch offices close to university campuses so that students can quickly and easily sign up for health insurance coverage.

Once your child is insured, he/she can seek treatment from any doctor in Germany. In case of an emergency, there are always doctors on stand-by at accident and emergency departments providing 24/7 treatment at hospitals. And again, insured patients needn’t pay anything for emergency treatment­. You can call an ambulance day or night by dialing the free­ toll number 112.

Keep in mind that patients in Germany can only get medical prescription from doctors. The Medical Preparations Act in Germany strictly regulates the sale of medication in Germany. Some medicine, which you may be able to buy over the counter in your own country, such as antibiotics, can only be prescribed by doctors in Germany.

Who can help my child when problems arise?

You can be rest assured your child will not be left alone. Every university has an International Office which is responsible for taking care of organisational matters for their international students. The staff of the International Office assist foreign students who are preparing for their stay in Germany. The International Office also offers on-site support to foreign students. After your child arrives in Germany, the Inter­national Office will provide all the necessary information he/she will need to get started.

Some universities offer “mentor programmes”. Shortly after arriving in Germany, international students are assigned a personal mentor (an experienced German student ) who helps them take care of formalities, deal with problems of everyday life, answer questions about their studies, etc. The Studentenwerk is an organisation that supports students at numerous universities in Germany. At some universities, the Studentenwerk even offers a service package for international students to help make their life in Germany easier. It contains a number of services, including health insurance, accommodation and meal coupons.

Every university has a student council, departmental committees and student organisations which offer academic advice and help with matters of daily life. They also organise orien­tation events for new students. And finally, students can contact their instructors during office hours for help with specific problems related to their courses.

However, it’s important to know that students in Germany are expected to demonstrate a certain degree of independence. They have to take personal responsibility for their own learning methods. This means that, although there are many places that offer assistance, students must go and seek it themselves.

Where will my child live?

Students in Germany either live in student halls of residence or private accommodation.

As opposed to other countries, students at German universities are not automatically allocated rooms on campus. Actually, there are very few campus-style universities in Germany with student halls of residence located on university grounds. However, there are student halls of residence in every university town. Rooms in such halls are usually the least expensive accommodation available, but to secure one, students have to apply well in advance.

You might also want to consider private accommodation. There is a wide variety of such offers on the market, ranging from empty rooms to furnished flats. Flat shares, or WGs as they say in Germany, are very popular among students. In a flat share, several people live together, each with his/her own bedroom, and share the kitchen and the bathroom. The advantages of living in a flat share are that they are relatively inexpensive, foreign students come in contact with German students easier and have the opportunity to speak and learn more German.

What can I do when I travel to Germany?

Perhaps you’re thinking about visiting your child in Germany. That’s a great idea because Germany has a lot to offer.

Germany’s countryside is diverse and beautiful. Moorland, heathland and chains of islands with rolling sand dunes lie to the north. Dense, mixed forests and medieval castles lie along the river valleys of central Germany – a region once praised by the poets of German Romanticism. And the Alps with their crystal-clear mountain lakes rise up majestically in the south.

Cultural life doesn’t only thrive in metropolitan cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Smaller cities and towns throughout Germany have event calendars filled with cultural highlights of every kind – exhibitions, concerts, open-air festivals, performances, fairs, sport events, etc.

Don’t forget the regional festivals! These celebrations take place throughout the year and offer foreign visitors a uniquely German experience, for example, Carnival in the Rhineland, the Pfalz wine festivals and the Oktoberfest in Munich.

You will discover a wide range of culinary delights here – from hearty, traditional regional meals like Sauerbraten, Eisbein and Schweinshaxe with freshly drafted beer to fine creations prepared by top chefs and served with exquisite wines. And, of course, you will find ethnic restaurants of every kind in Germany.

Germany has a very well-developed transportation system. Whether you travel by car, train or plane, you will find out that travelling in Germany is both comfortable and convenient. And because Germany is located in the heart of Europe, it is the perfect starting point for taking trips to other European countries. Come and see for yourself.