More than often it is coined as the powerhouse of EU, the country that leads not just the economy and economics of Europe, but also a point of reference when it comes to credibility and efficiency. Germany has been the role model for a number of countries even though many of them would never admit such a thing. In the case at hand, we shall be attempting a brief overview of its educational system and, in particular, the way universities in Germany seem to be operating especially after having signed the Bologna Treaty back in 1999, which signifies EU’s commitment to have unified all similar educational institutions within the EU framework.
Going back to Germany, there are practically 427 higher educational institutions where more than 2 million students seem to be currently studying, of whom almost 200.000 are of foreign origin. Each of the sixteen different Lands –Länder– of Germany have their own approach also in terms of educational policies, however, the fact remains that the Federal Republic of Germany has been operating things gracefully thanks to the provisions of the Hoch Rule Law that in principle sets the ground for a common single policy when it comes to the overall educational system.
As already stated, Germany is a signatory part of the Bologna Treaty according to which there are three distinctive types of degrees to be awarded to students depending, of course, on the level of studies someone has been following, namely:
The bachelor degree, which is to be awarded after the completion of undergraduate studies of any sort
The Master’s degree, awarded only after the basic curriculum of a bachelor degree has been concluded successfully, while the student had been previously accepted after the successful evaluation of certain exam-s that had to be passed
The Doctorate degree, which is to be awarded only after the completion of a process that entails both research and studies of the highest level possible
Germany has been able to achieve and maintain the highest level possible in terms of teaching and research standards, and what strikes someone the most is that in principle the German Institutions are sponsored by the State itself, with the exception of some very few of them, that during the last years, they have been requesting an annual fee of less than 1.000, 00€, even though and as already explained the vast majority of Universities do not require any fees at all.
Please bear in mind that this fact becomes even more overwhelming if someone considers that among those hundreds of Universities belong some of the world’s top ranking educational institutes such as:
- Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen (University of Tübingen),
- Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Heidelberg University),
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (University of Munich),
- Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich),
- Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin),
- Technische Universität Dresden (Technical University of Dresden),
- RWTH Aachen (Aachen University of Technology),
- Universität Konstanz (University of Constance),
- Humboldt-Universität Berlin Humboldt University of Berlin),
- Universität Bremen (University of Bremen),
- Universität Köln (University of Cologne)
In order for someone to be eligible enough to attend university courses each one of the following requirements need to be fulfilled:
valid and in essence recognized secondary education that enables access to (Zulassung) higher education ;
academic criteria to be met by the candidate as such with regards to the program of studies at hand, and
sufficient knowledge of the German language (minimum of Mittelstufe II level), whereas in some particular cases, English as a secondary language is necessary as well.
In any case and before elaborating further it would be both wiser and more efficient to visit the German Academic Exchange Service website (in German it reads “Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst”) where you can get an even more thorough idea on how to plan your studies better; of course, it goes without saying that all of the institutions sustain and operate their own websites where you can get an even more detailed idea of curricula and foreign students.
We probably need to highlight the requirements regarding the third level of studies, i.e. the doctoral level, where in some cases English language is necessary if you wish to take your studies to the highest level possible, alongside the excellent command of the German language as well.
Necessary steps to be taken at all times when about to study in Germany
- In light of the just aforementioned, i.e. the command of German language alongside the necessary command of the English language as well in many cases nowadays, it is of utmost importance before actually getting enrolled in a PhD program to make sure that you meet all criteria relating to the language –s requirement.
- Prepare official copies of all your degrees and qualification in order to present when – definitely- asked to do so
- Make sure you have letters of recommendation at least by two professors of yours, especially in the case of a PhD to be followed
- Make sure you have specifically designed a curriculum with certain studies both in the case of a Master’s degree and – even more so – in the case of a PhD degree to be followed
- Have a valid VISA in place
- Be able to provide evidence with regards to sufficient income so as to be able to sustain your program and your studies on annual basis; an income of 700, 00€ can be proven to be – in the majority of cases – sufficient enough, however, please bear in mind that in the cases of Hamburg and Munich, that monthly income barrier rises up to 1.000, 00€
- Be able to provide proper health insurance credits and certifications; if not, you have to refer to the Academic Service for Foreign Students and by paying approx. 60, 00€ you can be properly enrolled to your selected School’s medical insurance problem.
Procedure when in Germany: before the Secretariat’s desk
Please make sure to register with your School, in order to get your unique student registration number, email registration and so forth and so on. Those unique numbers , emails, registrations shall allow you to get reduced fees in museums, theaters, means of transportation, libraries in the whole of the Country and not just in your University’s premises and facilities. For what is worth, allow us to remind you that Spring semester begins on April and winter semester begins on October; both dates are important and you should make sure yourselves that no other specific need tobe taken into consideration at the beginning of each and every new academic season
Probably the most important issues to be taken care of once the registration with the School is over. It is of utmost importance to pay a visit and register yourself with the accomodation office operating at your University which most probably inform you accordingly with respect to the issue of your residence permit, in case you have not done so yourself already. It goes without saying, of course, that you must definitely go over the specified State Authority dealing with residence permit issues, the so-called Einwohnermeldeamt, where you shall be definitely asked to present you passport or other relevant transport documents and your address along with all your related housing status. Such an authority most usually operates within the premises of Town Halls.
Important note: make sure you carry with you the originals of all your papers, and in case you are asked to present photocopies, these must definitely be notarized before actually being submitted
Student life and student employment
As already mentioned, all students have access not only to their specific School’s libraries, but to many – if not all – libraries and museums of the country. It is also very common for each School to provide to its students professionals able to assist them in various every-day ways in their lives such as psychologists, social counselors or even legal associates, who, for instance, shall be be providing useful feedback on issues related to your studies as such, or with your house lords, your internet provider etc. etc
In terms of employment, there is the option of getting information about potential employers interested, or just able to hire your services while still studying, thus already aware of the particularities of someone being a student, especially of – say – a Master’s or PhD level