Why international students love Germany


Germany has turned into one of the most attractive destinations (if not the very top European choice) for studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education, the country hosts some 300,000 international students every year, and the numbers are growing.

In 2016, over 10,000 U.S. nationals were pursuing their studies at German universities, an increase of 25 percent over the past eight years. Additionally, the number of Indian students has more than doubled since 2010; and, in Europe, Germany is only second to Spain in receiving students from Latin America.

But what makes Germany so trendy?

Well, the truth is that German universities may offer international students “the best deal” when it comes to quality of education, tuition fees and scholarships, work facilities, as well as quality of life.

To begin with, German universities consider education to be a right, not a privilege. As Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, explained in a 2014 interview, tuition fees “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

What this means is that tuition fees at German universities are very low, or even free. Though it may happen that some students in Germany pay certain fees, which only amount to a few hundred euros, these fees normally go towards a semester ticket allowing you to use public transportation for the entire semester, and to have access to a student union.

This is because policy makers in Germany consider that the country’s technological progress depends on finding, training and retaining highly skilled workers. Not only from within the country, but also from around the globe: from Asia to the Americas, and beyond.

This leads us to the quality of education international students can get in Germany.

Given the country’s level of technology, and state-of-the-art research facilities ranging from engineering to social sciences to medicine, German universities rank among the best in the world. The Times Higher Education ranking has given Germany 36 places out of the top 200 universities in Europe, and 11 places in the top 50 across the continent.

Moreover, Germany is a European leader in providing scholarships for international students. While students in Germany graduate with little to no debt, those in countries like the U.S., Canada and the U.K. are bound to hefty student loans they must carry well into their adulthood.

The German Academic Exchange Service and German Research Foundation – both of which support international academic co-operation – provide full tuition wavers, monthly stipends, travel, study and research allowances, intensive German courses, as well as health insurance.

Germany’s pledge to attract highly skilled migrants also translates into genuine work opportunities. German law allows a student to work for 120 full days or 240 half days each year, with a minimum wage of €8.51 per hour. And, upon graduation, he or she gets an extra 18 months to find a job – which is doable in a country with low unemployment levels and access to quality jobs for graduates.

And finally, there’s the quality of life.

Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Berlin are all ranked among the 20 best cities in the world for their social, economic and political stability, safety, as well as health and education, culture and avant-garde, infrastructure, housing, nature and recreation… and so on. And of course, fun!

Think of Leipzig, for example, a city that has resurrected from its communist past to become a center for creativity, where art and party lovers find heaven on earth… now, that is something you shouldn’t miss – or already know about quite well.

By Alina Strugut

A version of this story was published on Alina’s study abroad consultancy website, Klever Scapes.

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