With its ‘dual education system,’ resting on the principle of ‘unity of learning and research,’ and the emphasis on apprenticeship, the German higher education system has played an important role in shaping an economic environment wherein individual and collective responsibility, practicality and innovation are the drivers of change and progress.
Although the ongoing reforms stemming from the ‘Bologna Declaration’ – aimed primarily at establishing internationally accepted degrees, enhancing the quality of study courses, and increasing employability – are in the process of doing away with stark contrasts that have existed between education systems of the European countries that have adopted it, certain distinctive features of individual systems are bound to remain in place. The German Federal Government, federal states, and higher education institutions are, within the ‘Bologna Process’ context, undertaking the largest higher education reform in decades; there’s a lot to the German higher education system however, that is time-proven to produce excellent results and should stay in place.
The German higher education system is widely regarded as being one of the best in the world; it is fairly diverse, with a variety of institutions that cover a wide range of academic profiles and confer different types of degrees.
As a general rule, German universities are recognized and held in high esteem worldwide – they perform very well in the international university rankings.
Institutions of higher education in Germany, be they state (public) or state-accredited, are generally divided into:
With its central location in the heart of the continent (it shares a border with nine different countries), Germany is the hub of Europe; to use a cliché: All roads lead through Germany. It is the economic and technological powerhouse of the united Europe, that is increasingly coming to occupy the place it justly deserves in the world political arena.
Academic standards at German universities are top-notch; not only are the renowned technical institutes, such as TU Darmstadt, RWTH Aachen, and others, ranked as some of the best in the world, but the study courses offered in a variety of other disciplines such as: medicine, law, social sciences, arts etc., are highly acclaimed internationally.
Although the vast majority of courses offered by German universities are predominantly German taught, there are, due to a growing demand and a steady rise in the influx of foreign students, various universities that are switching to English taught courses, today numbering a total of over 350 university courses taught in English. These courses, offered across the spectrum of disciplines, are internationally recognized, a fact which lays to rest whatever concerns foreign students may have about the validity of their degrees earned in Germany.
The vast majority of universities and colleges in Germany are state-financed, and as of October 2014 literally free of charge meaning that there are no tuition fees whatsoever charged in all public universities throughout the country. Just as in the past, higher education in Germany has become virtually free again– the tuition fees are entirely waived for all students regarding undergraduate studies.
In the last couple of years, some changes have taken place in this regard; a relatively low tuition fee has been charged on the excuse of it being necessary to maintain the facilities and the general quality of services. However even with these tuition fees higher education was still significantly less expensive than in most other developed western countries, and with many student benefits and discounts available across the board, the total living costs for students in Germany can be kept well below €1000 per month.
Germany is one of the world leaders in terms of being the country of choice for international students to study or continue their education in; and the reasons for this are many: from the desire to acquire specialized knowledge and improve their language skills, to the expectation that after completing their studies they will have more career opportunities back in their home country or in Germany. Quality teaching, security, great standard of living and low tuition fees, alongside the appeal of the local culture have made Germany an attractive study destination for people all over the world; it is currently ranked fourth in the world, after the US, Great Britain and Australia.
Young students from developing countries, Eastern European countries and countries in transition are particularly interested in studying in Germany and are more likely to recommend their friends pursue studies in Germany after having a great experience in Germany themselves. One of the strongest motivators is the financial one; tuition fees in German universities are very low compared to North America and other developed countries, so it’s liberating not to have to mortgage their future.
Germany has over 160 International schools where the medium of study is in English language.