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German Embassy's Tips for Studying in Germany

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Date18 Dec 2021

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Philipp von Ritter from the German Embassy gave us valuable tips on first steps and the preparation for Indian students who want to study in Germany. Philipp is the science counselor at the German Embassy in New Delhi and met Anjana Singh for an extensive interview in November 2021.

Anjana Singh: Namaste, Philipp. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about questions which are relevant for Indian students who want to study in Germany. 

Philipp von Ritter: Yes sure. It’s my pleasure. We are here at the German Embassy in New Delhi. In every German Embassy we have a science section which works exclusively on issues like research, innovation and higher education. And also issues like student mobility for students who are coming from India to Germany and vice versa. 

First steps for students who want to study in Germany

Anjana Singh: What would be the first step for Indian students who want to study in Germany? There is a lot of information out there, but you never know how reliable it is. So what would you, as an expert in that field, recommend for gathering information about studying in Germany? 

Philipp von Ritter: So first of all I think it is really remarkable if young Indian men and women decide that studying in Germany would be an option for them. We don’t take that for granted at all. It’s a big step, a big step to go abroad for studying, a big step in terms of finances, a big step in terms of all the administrative hurdles and also a big step in terms of the pure mindset. Going to another country, and going to Germany especially where people don’t speak English as their native language, can be challenging. So this is really something remarkable and we are very very happy at the German Embassy in Delhi that so many young Indians take that decision. 

The two phases of gathering information and of deciding to eventually study in Germany are interwoven. We are very lucky that in Germany we have the German academic exchange service DAAD. The DAAD is providing information worldwide on student mobility and on possibilities to get into German universities for foreign students. They do not only provide information through their website, but also through their data basis, as well as in info sessions. These info sessions have become virtual due to the Corona pandemic which makes it even more accessible for interested students all across India. 

I would highly recommend going to the DAAD website for any student who says I am interested in Germany as a place to study. The DAAD will provide you with the best, the most relevant and the most comprehensive list of opportunities that exist in Germany. An advantage of DAAD over other websites is that they are not guided by some particular interest from some German university or some agents who want to make profit. But it will be guided by the common ambition of the German university system to internationalise itself and to enroll the cleverest students from across the world - and we know that there are many in India and we are happy that many of them want to come to Germany.

Anjana Singh: Precisely because so much unreliable information is in circulation, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has funded the development of our New2App. Have you already taken a look at the app? Do you think it could be an additional tool for Indian students who plan to go to Germany or are already there? 

Philipp von Ritter: I have downloaded the app. And I find it very good. There are many possibilities to gather this information, and many innovative ways to get this information which is relevant for study plans in Germany. And amongst others I think the New2App is one of them. Every initiative like the New2App is really appreciated which explains why our Ministry of Commerce is funding it. What I think is great about initiatives like that is that you have very helpful overviews in the form of interactive and easy-to-access information. 

There may also be informal networks of students sharing their experiences. And I think the first hand exchange is so important. Because it really increases the impact. For DAAD we have the so-called young ambassadors. They are very successful Indian students who are coming back from Germany. They are in different stages of their careers and in different disciplines but what they all share is that they are very passionate about the experiences that they made in Germany. So when they come back and spread across India, they are really ambassadors for studying in Germany. The list of them can be found on the DAAD website. 

Preparations for studying in Germany 

Anjana Singh: One question we always get is how far in advance should you try to get a visa for Germany as a student. Can you say something about this, Philipp?

Philipp von Ritter: That’s a very good question. I think it leads to a broader question, that is  when should you start preparing for your university studies and your move to Germany? And that takes a lot of time. The admission deadlines for the universities are often way before the start of the actual university semester. 

In general, I would say, once the admission letter is there, even if it is a conditional admission letter, that’s the moment when you should - if you haven’t done it so far - consult the webpages of the German Embassy in Delhi on the visa requirements and the visa processes. Additionally, check the website of our service provider vfs, where you will be handing in your visa application. On these websites you have different lists and recommendations about the time frame of your application. Generally, they provide guidance from the moment that you realise you need a visa until the moment you will get your visa. That process will take some time. 

Firstly, it will take some time before you get your visa appointment itself, especially right now with this situation in which lots and lots of students wanted to go to Germany but could not go in the past two years due to the pandemic. There is a huge demand and the visa appointments are just not enough, so the delays are already there. Even once you hand in your visa application, it will take some weeks to process it at the embassy and to get the necessary approvals from the agencies in Germany. So there is no one-size-fits-all answer but you find all the information on the webpage of the German Embassy and on the webpage of the vfs service provider. 

Anjana Singh: Sometimes questions arise which are not listed anywhere. Is it possible to contact the German Embassy directly via email? 

Philipp von Ritter: Definitely. The German public administration is an administration which is at the service of the citizens and also at the service of foreign citizens. So on every German agency’s website there will be a contact form where you can put down your request and the request will then be processed by the respective agency. That’s also true for the German Embassy in Delhi. That being said, you said there are questions where you can’t find the answer anywhere. But most of the questions are being answered either on the website of the Embassy or on the website of DAAD (www.daad.in). So in many cases my reply to these requests would be: please refer to the DAAD website. Often it’s worthwhile to check all these different options before writing to the German Embassy but of course everybody should feel free to approach the German Embassy with their request which will be answered in due course. 

Anjana Singh: A lot of students have questions regarding scholarships and the process of visa applications in case they hold a scholarship. 

Philipp von Ritter: Scholarships are a very important topic. Firstly I have to say, we are very proud that there are many scholarships for Indian students who are going to study in Germany. And all of these scholarship programmes have their own scholarship rule books and their own counselors who assist all the scholarship holders. Because these are VIPs. Every scholarship holder for us is a VIP. They get a VIP treatment in terms of visa. The visa process is very quick. But of course they also get the VIP treatment from the scholarship giver. So for any inquiries regarding the scholarships you should always approach the scholarship offices for the relevant information. By the way, DAAD gives out the most scholarships so have a look at their website if you don’t hold a scholarship yet. 

Anjana Singh: Thanks a lot, Philipp, that you took out the time to speak to us for New2!

Interview with Philipp von Ritter conducted by Anjana Singh, transcription and editing by Tanja Holbe

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