Studying in Germany

Why study in Germany

Germany has always packed a punch when it comes to academia. Its long list of Nobel Prize winners dates back to 1901 and includes one of the world’s most famous scholars, Albert Einstein. It is also home to many highly-rated institutions that feature prominently in international rankings.

  • There are more than 350 institutions offering higher education in Germany, with in excess of 14,000 degree courses on offer.
  • Germany is split into 16 Länder (regions) and each is responsible for setting its own university registration fees.
  • More than 800 courses are offered at degree level in English in Germany, though many of these are above undergraduate level.

Entry and visa regulations

EU students do not need a visa to study in Germany, but will need to apply for a residence permit from the local resident registration office.

  • There are two different methods of applying to university in Germany. In some cases, you apply directly to the institution, while other universities require you to use the centralised UniAssist system. Check with your chosen provider in the first case. Applications generally need to be in by mid-January for courses beginning in September.
  • For subjects such as medicine, pharmacy and dentistry, there is a nationwide cap on the number of students who can enrol and students need to apply through the Foundation of Higher Education Admission.

Funding your study

Tuition at all public universities is free for German and EU students, and in most areas for non-EU international students. Students may find that they are charged an application fee, but this varies between institutions.

  • From 2017 non-EU students will pay to study at universities in Baden-Wurttemberg. The cost will be €1,500 per semester for a first degree, and €650 per semester for a second degree. There are exemptions for non-EU students who have gained a higher education entrance qualification in Germany, international students from Erasmus member states, students who have permanent residency in Europe and refugees who have a right to stay in Germany.
  • Though Germany does have a system of providing grants and loans to students, these are not available to foreign students unless they have lived in the country for five years prior to beginning study.
  • There are some scholarships available to foreign students and the German Academic Exchange Service maintains a database of current opportunities.
  • Most Germany universities do provide some student accommodation, but the number of beds available is very small compared to their student population. Because costs are low, waiting lists can be very long and at some universities students have little chance of securing a place in their first year. Many students therefore opt to live in private shared accommodation instead, but this also needs to be arranged well in advance of the semester start.
  • Students who arrive late without anywhere to live often stay in hostels upon arrival and then search for a shared flat. Accommodation costs range from about £120-£320 per month, depending on location.

According to a HSBC survey, Germany is the least expensive study destination for UK students, with annual costs of just above £4,200 per year. Some typical costs (GBP, March 2015) include:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £280 - £392 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £ £5.69
  • Meal at McDonalds: £4.97
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £2.13
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £2.13
  • Cappuccino: £1.77
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £1.38
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £1.17
  • Loaf of bread: £0.99
  • Cigarettes: £3.70
  • One-way ticket local transport: £1.78
  • Cinema ticket: £6.40

As a student from an EU country, you are allowed to work part-time without any extra permit so long as you don’t work more than 19 hours per week during term-time. Many students work in hospitality and customer service roles, but to secure this type of job you’ll need good German language skills. Hourly rates are likely to be at least on par with the UK, and in some cases slightly higher.

Health and safety

EU students are entitled to use Germany’s healthcare system in the same way as nationals so long as they have a European Health Insurance Card.

  • A consultation fee of about £8 applies to most visits to medical professionals and prescriptions cost about £4.  
  • Germany is a relatively safe destination and violent crime is rare. In 2010, the number of annual crimes in Germany fell to its lowest level in 20 years, but despite this, pickpocketing and bike theft can be a problem in some areas so remain vigilant.

Helpful links