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Nine very compelling reasons to come to Germany to study
A lecture hall at Leipzig University. Photo: DPA

Nine very compelling reasons to come to Germany to study

The Local · 9 Sep 2016, 13:47

Published: 09 Sep 2016 13:47 GMT+02:00

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Germany and the Anglophone countries all have a great number of internationally recognized and well-respected universities. Attending any one of them will indisputably grant you a great education.

But when it comes to methods and funding, they couldn't be more different. Here are nine reasons why it's advantageous to come to Germany to get your degree.

1. A path to debt-free education

Tuition fees in Germany are the same for both local and international students, which is the number one factor attracting students from all over the globe. One may wonder: how does Germany go about this?

Instead of making students pay huge amounts of money, public universities in Germany spread out the cost over the entire population through taxes. In turn, this money benefits anyone wanting to study and results in minimum tuition fees.

In fact, what you pay in Germany are not actually tuition fees, rather simple administrative fees of between €100 and €500 per semester that also cover your public transportation costs.

Non-consecutive postgraduate degrees - courses for students coming from a different field of study - have fees considerably lower than in Anglophone countries - around €1000 per semester, while consecutive postgraduate degrees are free of tuition charges,again, you will only have to pay administrative fees.

As a result, not many German nationals see the necessity in attending private universities, where tuition fees increase dramatically. More often than not, Germans attend a private university either because a specific study topic they want to pursue is not available in public universities, or they do not get accepted in public universities.

Contrast this with the thousands of dollars or pounds university costs on a yearly basis in much of the Anglophone world, and it is clear that graduating without substantial debt is one major attraction of the German system.

Photo: DPA

2. Quality distinction

When it comes to quality, German public universities are of great standard, positioned among the highest in worldwide rankings.

The German study system focuses on creating independence in students, pushing for hard work towards attaining knowledge and skills rather than a tick in a box when applying for a job interview.

Germany maintains that a degree from a public university is built on hard work and dedication, while good grades and degrees from private universities are considered to have been bought.

Anglophone universities stand very high in quality too and a degree from any of these subject countries is internationally recognized and valued.

Nonetheless, a recent finding indicates that the separation between universities and research institutes and vocational training in Germany may have resulted in UK and US universities occupying a higher position in worldwide ranking lists.

It is believed that if the Max Planck Society would be included in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University league table, Germany would displace many great educational institutions, including Cambridge and Oxford.

3. Scholarship impact

Scholarships are not easy to obtain and hardly cover all expenses, especially in the Anglophone countries.

Normally you get a percentage - often around 80 percent - of your tuition fee paid for you, while the rest of the fee remains on you. Adding the cost of living to your 20 percent tuition fee will obviously be a lot to deal with on your own.

However, a scholarship in Germany gives you the opportunity to cover a good percentage of your living expenses, as the cost of study is remarkably low. Adding to its prominence is the fact that accommodation, food and other necessary items are not as expensive as in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

4. Studying in English

Germany has come up with a good deal for international students by offering over 1,150 study courses in English in both undergraduate and graduate levels to avoid any language restrictions.

If you are required to study courses that are only taught in German, there are available language courses to attend during the first semester, or more if necessary.

Moreover, learning a new language is a great opportunity, particularly if it is the language of Dichter und Denker (poets and thinkers.)

The library at the University of Darmstadt. Photo: DPA

5. Health insurance coverage

Health insurance is a more complex issue, with prices varying depending on the services you get and the country you come from.

In Germany, you can get full public health insurance coverage for around €26 to €80 per month, which is a very inviting student discount in contrast to the Anglophone countries.

In Canada, public health insurance covers internationals only in half of its provinces, while in the other half students must purchase private health insurance.

In the US health insurance seems to be the most controversial matter, especially for international students, who must usually get into private health insurance plans because of high cost of healthcare services.

Meanwhile in Australia, costly health insurance is a requirement even for temporary students.

Only in the UK are foreign students comprehensively covered by the residency-based National Health Service (NHS).

Every University Office for Foreigners will provide more in-depth information about health insurance policies offered through universities. 

6. Cost-effective public transportation

Public transportation is very efficient and beautifully spread out throughout the whole of Germany. Plus, being located in the heart of Europe means visiting European cities with only a small amount of money is one ready benefit.

In the US, public transportation is not as reliable, somehow pushing students towards getting private cars. However, a monthly pass costs, more or less, $75. Some universities in the US offer student transportation tickets with a fee that is included in the overall tuition fees, as is the case for students in Washington.

Other student cities as is Boston offer a student transit pass valid one semester through CharlieCard, and New Jersey which covers many universities in the neighbouring state, New York.

The University of Hamburg. Photo: DPA

In Canada, a monthly pass for public transportation varies from $91.50 up to $130. Whereas, a monthly public transportation ticket in the UK is roughly £60. There are available offers and discounts for students, like the Student OysterCard.

International students in Australia are not entitled to transport concessions unless their studies are fully funded by Australian government scholarships. Otherwise, a monthly pass costs $130.

In Germany, public transport costs are often included in the student's administrative fee. The ticket usually covers the whole Federal State (Bundesland) for the semester.

7. Accommodation Arrangements

A decent residential room with sufficient space for a bed, study table, a nice kitchen, a bathroom and a balcony costs €200 per month in Germany. Prices may rise if you want an apartment in the city centre.

Although, Berlin - Europe’s most exciting city - has low apartment prices, circa €400 per month. In Aachen, apartment rent prices are somewhat similar to Berlin, whereas Munich has a higher apartment rent price.

Yet, Berlin and Munich are still positioned among the world’s most affordable cities to live and study in!

In US, you may either share a dorm room for a lower price or get a private one-bedroom apartment that may cost around $1212.12 per month.

Outside the city centre the same sized apartment costs about $907.38. While Boston, New York, and Washington have similarly high apartment rent prices, California, specifically Los Angeles offers more affordable rent prices.

In Australia, rent reaches $1795.53 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre or $1306.65 outside the centre. Moreover, the overall living cost in Australia is higher than the US and the rest of our subject countries. Cheaper rent prices are offered in Perth, while Sydney and Canberra have drastically higher rent prices.

In the UK, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is £741.77 or £609.49 in the periphery. Although London, Cambridge, and Oxford provide higher prices for apartment rents.

Canada’s prices for a single-bedroom apartment range from $1150.98 in the city centre, to $903.28 outside the city centre. Meanwhile, cities like Vancouver and Toronto have similar yet higher apartment rent prices, whereas Montreal is quite affordable.

8. Social life charm

German students know how to have fun too. Photo: DPA

Story continues below…

Contrary to popular belief, Germans are welcoming and inviting towards international students.

Furthermore, drinking is cheaper, especially beer. As opposed to the US where drinking is not allowed until the age of 21, in Germany it's all legal from 18.

In short, there are tons of entertaining activities, historical and alluring places and sights waiting to be explored as much in Germany as in the rest of the Anglophone countries.

Culture shock may initially be inevitable in respect to the differences encountered from one country to another, but learning a few social norms and keeping focused will allow for you to quickly settle in.

9. Are we there yet?

Overall, job opportunities are abundant for post-graduates, especially if immersed in a more precise study field.

Broader and general study fields are less favourable for employment and therefore longer waiting periods after graduation can be expected.

In 2016, the US unemployment rate decreased to 5 percent, but as a result, salaries suffered a similar decrease.

Meanwhile in Canada, the overall unemployment rate is 6.8 percent, yet it seems rather hard for students to find jobs that correlate with their study fields. Although, graduate unemployment rate in 2015 reached 13.3 percent, while part-time jobs went on the rise.

In the UK, the postgraduate unemployment rate reached 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2007, as per January-March 2015 statistics.

On the other hand, Australia’s unemployment rate stands at 11 percent, while only 68 percent of bachelor graduates in 2014 had a full-time job four months after graduation.

Germany has the lowest unemployment rate in EU at 6.9 percent, and only 10 percent of German graduates work in jobs unrelated to their study fields. Around two-thirds of all German students attend dual vocational training programs, which involve theoretical teaching and a lot of work in practice in companies and positions that match with their field of study, where students get to familiarize hands-on with the theory knowledge they attain during classes.

The Bauhaus University in Weimar. Photo: DPA

The 'unthinkable' is happening

The flocking of students towards Germany, and not the UK or the US, would have been unthinkable 20 or 30 years ago. Today, even some UK and US nationals are moving to Germany to pursue their higher education: undergraduate, research, and postgraduate likewise.

The advantage of Germany lies precisely in its international concept. So, if studying at a notable university without student debts is what you are looking for, Germany is keeping an open door.

Melissa Lawrence is a content manager at www.studying-in-germany.org

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