Facts and Figures
Many German institutions of higher education can look back on a centuries-old tradition. The oldest university in Germany today was founded in Heidelberg in 1386. Until the Second World War German universities played a leading role internationally in many of the science and humanities disciplines. During the period of National Socialist rule, however, a large number of particularly distinguished academics were forced to leave the country and it took some time before the universities were able to regain their academic standing in the world. The unification of Germany brought together two diametrically opposed academic systems. Research and teaching in the new Lear have undergone a thorough structural change and now contribute significantly to the lively German economic scenario.
There are more than 330 institutions of higher education spread all over Germany, with no less than 117 universities, 159 “Fachhochschulen” (universities of applied science) and 56 colleges of music and fine arts. During the winter semester 2003/04 almost 1.9 million students were registered, of whom 227,000 came from abroad and 359,000 were in their first-year.
The spectrum of study options is extremely broad. Apart from the classic disciplines it is also possible to study mining in Germany; Lg offers “Applied Cultural Studies”, Cologne has an institute for media studies, while at Rostock you can study agricultural ecology, to name but a few subjects from the variegated pallet totaling over 10.000 degree programs in all. In the last few years inter-disciplinary science and research have become significantly more important.
Public (state-maintained) universities in Germany do not generally charge tuition fees. Some Master’s programs and the additional fees charged by some of the federal states are exceptions to this rule. Click here for further information.
How the Institutions are structured?
Since the time of Wilhelm von Humboldt the governing principle has been “the unity of research and teaching”. Since the opening-up of the universities, however, with the resulting trend towards mass institutions, this ideal is only partially in line with the times. Aspects such as practical applicability and relevance to vocational requirements are constantly gaining in importance. This is particularly true at Fachhochschulen where the courses are shorter and the curriculum more tightly-organised than at the universities. Ever more new students are opting to study at Fachhochschulen. The “freedom of teaching and research” guarantees institutions the right to self-administration even if they are financed by the state. In the framework of the Higher Education Act of the respective Land they award themselves their own charters. Universities are headed by a Rector or President, several Pro-rectors or Vice-presidents, and a Chancellor. The Academic Senate is responsible for general affairs concerning research, teaching and studying. It is composed of elected representatives of all the members of the institution, ie. Students and non-academic staff, too. The students elect their own Student Representation. Its various bodies are self-administrating and safeguard student rights with regard to higher education policy, as well as dealing with students’ social and cultural interests.
Where does teaching and research take place?
The individual disciplines are grouped together into faculties or departments (eg. the “Philosophical Faculty” or the “Department of Economics”). The faculties and departments are empowered to pass regulations governing studies and examinations. An elected Dean is in charge of faculty or departmental business. Each subject has its own institute or “Seminar” (in Germany this word has a double meaning: a course and a department building or room). This will be the place you spend most of your time because this is where the teaching staff and other students are to be found. You will find literature on your subject in the “Seminar”-library, while general information on your course of study is available from the Departmental Student Organization (“Fachschaft”). Queries about organizational matters can be addressed to the secretary’s office.
A student aspiring to study in Germany should possess an above average or at least average academic record. All qualifications are assessed by relevant institutions to ascertain whether the student is eligible to be admitted into a certain course.
Since the medium of instruction in most German institutions is English, proficiency in German language is not a necessary criterion for admission decisions to be made. However, a student is expected to show his proficiency in the German language for better living. It is imperative that students have at least a basic knowledge of German. At GECS we conduct basic/advanced German language classes which student can avail from us. Courses in business German are also offered. A student can take up elementary course in India itself, and then continue to learn the language once he reaches Germany.
TOEFL/IELTS/Graduate Admissions Tests
Most German universities do not expect TOEFL, IELTS or GRE scores. Some universities that offer International degree programs in English might expect a TOEFL/IELTS score, but even that is usually waived if the student’s education has been in English language. Some of the Management schools may ask for a GMAT score. Even in schools where it is not asked, a student with a GMAT score will be given preference over one who has not given the test, provided the score is a good one.
It is prudent to start well in advance, as the procedure is a long one. A student should also enroll into a German language program as soon as he decides to pursue higher education in Germany. The doors of a university are open to a student only after he proves that he’s entitled to be admitted to an institution of higher education. This is good for those whose educational qualifications or certificates are recognized as equivalent to those in Germany. If this is not the case, the student must undergo an eligibility test. In this case, each Federal State lays down the decisive criteria for evaluation of foreign qualifications required for admission. The preparatory institutions attached to the institutions of higher education are responsible for preparing students to take the eligibility test.
The following documents are generally required:
A certified copy of the certificate for admission to higher education or in other words the foreign high school qualification
Bio-data with exact information about one’s education (schools visited, exams taken etc)
Bio-data with exact information about one’s education (schools visited, exams taken etc)
Proof of higher studies attended till now if applicable
Language certificate as proof of required German language knowledge
An officially certified photocopy of the assessment test to determine the eligibility of foreign
applicants to studies at institutions of higher education in Germany with subjects and mark list, if the test has been taken
Certified copies of your academic transcripts and degree certificates. If the certificates are in a language other than English, German, or French, you are expected to send official English or German translations of the certificates
Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
Most universities may ask you to send an essay or personal statement. This should include the reasons for you wishing to pursue a particular course in Germany, and specifically in that particular university. Your essay is assessed not only for its content but also for your clarity of thought, your language ability, your goals, and other relevant things
Recommendations are expected to be from your professors, lecturers or employers. A lot of weight age is given to the letters of recommendations in making the admission decision. Some universities send their own recommendation forms with ratings, while others may expect them on official letterheads. The recommendation letters have to be sealed and the person recommending you should sign on the cover.
Deadlines and Submission
German universities are very particular about deadlines. Any application reaching late is not processed, no matter how impressive. The deadlines are as follows:
Winter Semester (October)—July 15th
Summer Semester (April)—January 15th
In case you need to send your applications for central assessment first, then the deadlines are as follows:
Winter Semester (October)—May 15th
Summer Semester (April)—November 15th
After your qualifications are cleared, you have to then apply to the respective universities before the above-mentioned deadlines.
Preparatory Studies for Foreign Students
Applicants whose certificates aren’t recognized still have a chance to study in Germany. They can enroll at a College of Preparatory Studies for Foreign Students (Studienkolleg). Enrollment for the preparatory courses is handled by the university. As with every other authority in Germany, one needs to apply in writing. The Foreign Students’ Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) at the various universities will provide you with more details.
The preparatory program lasts for one year at the end of which foreign students have to take a final examination. If they pass the exam they are considered to be up to the academic level they need to study at a German university and can apply for admission.
The preparatory courses are conducted in German, so language proficiency is a must.