One of the backbones of German economic success and sustainability are high-class specialists, which implies that much attention is paid to educational sector. New educational institutions open regularly as well as new specializations appear. We may also observe that educational sector becomes more and more funded and the very process of education is pursued to be made more focused on further working in the area of expertise as specified in the Graduate Diploma. This is achieved by including compulsory practice in German companies and helping a foreign student to get a contract in one of them after graduation.
Harmonic combination of old university traditions and modern technological advances is characteristic of the German education. Today German educational institutions host over 160.000 foreigners. Another crucial fact that favours education in Germany is that there are no entrance exams and education is free. Normally students pay only a so called semester fee which is between 100 and 300 Euros.
Language courses in Germany
The advantages of learning the German language in Germany are: permanent living in the language environment, education in an international group and learning the new culture. No less important is that a student experiences minimal use of his mother tongue which helps to achieve significant results in learning language really fast.
Language courses are organized so that a new student may apply at any time while enrollment happens once a week (or month). Those who need to achieve a required level of language competence in short terms may choose between various intensive courses which last from 2 weeks to a year with 25-40 lessons a week.
Courses of business German are aimed at people who expect professional communication and broadening of intercultural interaction. Such courses last from 2 to 6 weeks with 30-40 lessons a week. Those are special programmes and trainings that teach students the peculiarities of professional vocabulary, principles of documentation maintenance and negotiations. During the process of education students also prepare for an international business German exam PWD (Prüfung Wirtschaftsdeutsch).
Entrance requirements in universities of Germany
No entrance exams are passed in German universities. Yet while high-school education in Germany includes 13 years, some foreigners may need to have the level equal to the German school diploma. Another way is to complete two years of education in a state university of your country and continue the education on the selected major in a German university.
After one year of education in a home university, students may choose a preparation course in a German university (Studienkolleg) and become a student after one year. Only applicants with high honors may enter a college (Studienkolleg) avoiding studying in a home university.
The required competence of German depends on the way of entrance:
Direct applicants must have minimum C1 of the European system CEFR (ТеstDAF, DSH, Goethe Institute certificates);
Those who apply to a German college first, must have B1-B2 level of CEFR. It is expected that after a year of studying in Germany the language level of competence will grow up to C1;
If an applicant has not passed the language test by the moment of application, he or she is offered to take a test organized by the admission office of a university after the applicant`s arrival to Germany.
Preparatory programs in German universities
Preparatory college (Studienkolleg) – is a university-affiliated “school”, attended by all foreigners, who are short of one year to enter a German university. This preparatory program does not include learning of the German language. College training lasts two terms, with exams after each term. If a student passes these exams, he or she will be able to enter this university or any other. Education is focused on the disciplines the student will need to get a further degree. Students also study scientific research methods within the chosen major.
Higher education in Germany
The stages of classical education include introductory (Grundstudium) and basic (Hauptstudium) courses. During introductory course students should enhance the skills and technique of scientific research, gain fundamental knowledge of discipline. After two years of introductory course most institutions conduct “midterm” or “pre-degree” exams (Zwischenprufung, Vordiplom). Then there's the basic course, where students in 2-3 years acquire profound specific knowledge of the chosen disciplines. This phase of learning ends with an exam.
You can also get an international degree in Germany. Bachelor's degree usually takes 3 years, Master's degree takes two more years.
Doctor's degree (Doktor, Dr.) is only for graduates with good marks. You should find a research advisor (Doktorvater), write a candidate's dissertation and pass oral exams (Rigorosum) in major and other subjects.
Academic year in Germany consists of two terms. Summer term lasts from April 1st to September 30th, winter term – from October 1st to March 31st. Admission in German universities is two times a year. Applications for winter term will be submitted before July 15th, for summer term – before January 15th.
Visa regulations in Germany
In order to receive a German student visa, an applicant has to prepare the following documents:
Confirmation of funding source with the sum of no less than 7200 € per year;
Application of financial liability (finanzielle Verpflichtungserklaerung);
Blocked account (Sperrkonto) in a German bank with the right of withdrawal (Verfuegungsberechtigung) of 600 € per month;
Bank guarantee (Bankbuergschaft) before one of German banks, for the same amount of 600 € per month/ 7200 € per year.
Confirmation of funding source might be in the form of promissory letter (Reiseschecks), a passbook (Sparbuch), currency account statement (Valutabescheinigung), notarized application on the part of legal or private entity.
Working while studying in Germany
Those, who attend university-affiliated college or language courses:
Are only allowed to work with consent of Foreigners’ Authority (Ausländerbehörde);
Can only work during vacation time.
Citizens of countries outside European Community, who come to Germany to get higher education or do scientific research, have the following options:
Part-time job during 90 full days/180 part-time (no more than 4 hours) with student or potential student visa;
Working as research or student assistant (Hilfskraft) beyond the limit of 90/180 days. This means working on the university campus. However, Foreigners’ and Labor’s authorities must be informed in advance;
Compulsory practice, which is a part of preparation for the exams. It doesn't require any permission, even if it is paid. Such training is not included in 90 permitted working days period per year;
Voluntary practice, which is not included in learning program. It is either included in 90 days period per year, or is permitted by the labor authorities, even if it's not paid.
Foreign graduates from German institutions are entitled after successful graduation to extend stay permit for 1 year maximum (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) to find a qualified job. However it is not the same as work permit, which depends on specific circumstances.
Furthermore, stay extension and work permit are issued in case of specialized practice to broaden knowledge in the obtained major (fachbezogenes Praktikum). Practical training period shouldn’t exceed 2 years.