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Universities in Germany - How to find the one that fits you

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Date09 Dec 2021

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Germany has a diverse university landscape with more than 400 institutions of higher education, which mostly include Universitäten (universities) and Fachhochschulen (universities of applied sciences). The majority of these universities in Germany are operated and funded by the state which means they do not charge any tuition fees apart from a comparatively small contribution for administrative purposes (Semesterbeitrag). This rule also applies to foreign students who study in Germany - with the exception of the state of Baden-Württemberg where international students who are not citizens of an EU-country have to pay a fee of 1.500€ per semester. 

By contrast, the study fees at private universities in Germany can easily amount to more than 500€ a month. Bearing in mind this important difference, helps to understand why a lot of German students prefer state universities over private ones. In contrast to India, private colleges in Germany are often not outperforming their state-run counterparts in terms of quality of education or research. To the contrary, the most renowned German institutions ranking among the world’s top universities are state-sponsored. However, private colleges have certain advantages on their side such as smaller batches of students which can facilitate a more productive learning environment.

In view of such a large number of universities which offer a broad range of study programs, making your own decision on where to apply can be challenging. The following search engines can help you to get a first overview of the German university landscape:

Apart from searching for specific subject areas or university locations, these websites also make it possible to filter your search according to other criteria such as degree level (e.g. Bachelor or Master), study mode (e.g. part/full time or on-site/distance) or admission restrictions. With regards to the latter, German universities have a system of local and nationwide admission restrictions which are aimed at selecting students for the most popular study programs. 

While several factors come into play, the most important one is the final grade of the university entrance qualification. For foreign students, this system means that only a limited number of places at the universities are reserved for them. Study programs without admission restriction, however, are open to all applicants as long as they fulfil the admission criteria such as a recognised university entrance qualification and sufficient language skills. The website uni-assist can be a useful tool to make sure that your application meets all the criteria. Depending on the university and the respective study program, international students are often asked to hand in their applications directly through uni-assist.  

Nevertheless, you should always make sure to check the respective website of the university you’re interested in. There you can find detailed descriptions of the programs, the requirements and additional information you might not get in the search engines or on uni-assist. 

Additionally, you can gather information on Facebook. Since a lot of universities in Germany have groups for their students, you can get in touch with people who already study in Germany at the university of interest. They might be willing to answer questions regarding the life at campus and the reality of studying there which you will not get on any of the official websites. 

We hope this article gives you a helpful overview on how to decide for a university in Germany. If you have any further questions write them in the comments below or directly to [email protected]

Written by: Ferdinand Schlechta 

Cover Photo Credit: Hugues de Buyer-Mimeure - Unsplash

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