German Education System & Types of Universities

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Time and again, Germany has proven to be among the top when it comes to quality of education & living.​

Europe has always been on everyone’s bucket list when it comes to travel as well as when it comes to bigger life decisions likehigher education or migration. Do you dream of a successful life abroad? The easiest way to achieve that dream is by pursuing an education from a foreign university. Today, after careful consideration, the country that comes up as the best place to get higher education from, is none other than Germany. Time and again, Germany has proven to be among the top when it comes to quality of living. Driven by a hunger for perfection, they have managed to excel in governance and leadership. Since 2014, tuition is free for international students at almost all universities. There are government and non-government scholarships available along with flexible payment plans for the courses that do have a tuition fee. As a country, Germany checks everything off your list; standard of living, safety, health benefits, exceptional public transport, student benefits and an unending list of recreationalactivities. Additionally, Germany has the ICE (InterCity Express), a high-speed train service that runs through the country allowing you to visit all the beautiful cities in Germany that you’d like, conveniently and swiftly. If that’s not enough, the ICE has an international schedule as well with connections to Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands.


Education Structure in Germany

1. Primary and Secondary Levels

If we look at the German education system, it has 13 years (10+3) of primary and secondary school. At the secondary level, after the 10th grade, students of the Gymnasium schools continue studying there for the next 3 years and complete their Abitur, which then allows them to pursue their higher education at Universities, and students at the Hauptschule and Realschule schools can opt for a 3- year vocational or technical program at any of the vocational or technical schools known as Berufsschule andFachoberschule respectively. It is now possible for students with high academic achievement at the Realschule to switch to a Gymnasium on graduation.

Berufsschule are upper secondary vocational schools that prepare students for careers in a variety of fields including agriculture, food science, beauty therapy, business administration, printing technology, laboratory technology, textile, woodworking trades, metal trades, etc. The course is crafted in a way that allows the student to understand theories as well as practicalities of thesubjects. You could call it a dual training system that focuses on academics as well as application. These institutes also offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees after completing the vocational training.

Fachoberschule are upper secondary technical schools that prepare students for technical careers. Just like the Berufsschule, Fachoberschule schools also have tailored courses to help students gather academic knowledge as well as the application of that knowledge in the real world. These schools specialize in all types of technical career preparation courses from mechanical engineering to environmental technology.

2. Higher Education

This is followed by a bachelor’s degree comprising of 6 or 7 semesters. Post which students can pursue higher levels like mastersand PHDs. For a master’s degree, you need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field from a recognized university, and you need to fulfill the language requirements depending upon your medium instruction for admission in a German university.

Indian students have four options before applying for a bachelor’s course in Germany:

  1. Complete 1 year of a relevant bachelor’s program in India post 12th grade
  2. Complete the 1-year preparatory course in Germany called Studienkolleg
  3. Clear JEE advanced examination in India
  4. Apply at universities that accept the Indian Diploma certificate (10+3)

Of the above four options, we suggest the 2 semester preparatory course (Studienkolleg) for two primary reasons, namely it introduces you to the German language and basics of the university degree, and it will give you exposure to the German culture and education system. This course paves the way for your new venture so that your transition from one culture to the other is smooth.

Allow us to give you a quick brief on the Studienkolleg if you are considering higher education in Germany after the 12th grade:

Studienkolleg is a two-semester preparatory course for prospective bachelor’s degree students with 12 years of schooling. It gives you an introduction to subjects like German, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Biology etc. It is divided into 4 courses namely, T-Kurs, M-Kurs, W-Kurs and G-Kurs, each with varying subjects depending on what career you are pursuing. All Studienkolleg courses include a decent number of hours dedicated to learning the German language. Students are required to complete the B1 or B2 level of the German language to secure admission in the Studienkolleg course. It is ideal for students to complete the B level of the German language. Studienkolleg is free of cost at Public Universities, and it will cost you anywhere between € 8,000 to € 10,000 at private institutes.

Once you have decided that Germany is the place for you, there is another important question to answer – which university is best suited for you? The higher education system in Germany is very uniquely divided into three types of universities, each catering to a different set of careers. Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. Universities & Technical University (TU) or Technische Hochschule (TH)

Let’s begin with the classic universities. These universities cover a range of subjects like social sciences, literature, humanities, mathematics and many more. These courses are academic in nature and impart theoretical knowledge to the students. You can find bachelor, masters and doctorate programmes here. Depending on your skills and what you want to major in, you can pick the university that is best known in that field. The best part is that you can choose your subjects and even your professors! You may want to major in history, and while you pick most of your subjects related to history, you can also pick a few that are, maybe, in technology, anthropology, law or economics. Although all universities offer a number of programmes across subjects that are excellent in quality, they may be well-known for a particular programme. For example, the University of Tübingen offers a variety of programmes but is best known for its English literature programme.

Additionally, being a country excelling in innovation and technology, there are many prestigious Technical Universities that are known for their technical courses in engineering, technology and IT. While they offer courses across fields, they are best known for their extraordinary faculty and premium facilities available in the technology department. They also offer excellent research partnerships and placements because of their wide network and alliances with numerous large and mid-sized organizations. Some of the top TUs are RWTH Aachen University, TU Berlin, TU Munich, University of Hannover, University of Stuttgart, KIT and TU Dresden. There is an alliance of 9 top Technical Universities of Germany called TU9. It comprises of RWTH Aachen University, Technische Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Technische Universität Dresden, Leibniz University Hannover, Karlsruhe Institute of Tech­nology, Technical University of Munich, and University of Stuttgart. They enjoy an outstanding reputation around the world as renowned research and teaching institutions.

2. Universities of Applied Sciences or Hoschschule

These institutions focus on the practical side of the subject apart from the theory. While theoretical knowledge is imparted just like at the classic universities, these universities go one step ahead and give students a glimpse of how they are applied in the real world. Here, the programmes will have longer apprenticeships, summer projects, work projects and maybe even off-site projects that will either be in Germany or in another European countries. So, if you are looking at courses in medicine, business, engineering, social work, IT, etc. you should explore the universities of applied sciences. These universities have hand-crafted programmes that prepare students for the real world and are known for creating employees and employers of tomorrow.

3. Colleges of Art, Film and Music

This is for all you creative geniuses. As the name suggests, every field that is in the arts, is covered under these universities. You will find programmes in music, film making, choreography, cinematography, photography, VFX, graphic design, copywriters,fashion design, drama, the list is endless. The application process consists of an aptitude test that will assess your creative skills so if you want to apply to one of these programmes, keep practicing your art as much as you can before the enrolment processbegins.

Now, if you’re worried about the ranks of the universities, we assure you that none of the universities will disappoint you. You are guaranteed a quality-filled education at whichever university you enroll. All universities, private and public, have no lack of funds, which, in turn, allows them to invest in the latest equipment, state of the art facilities and excellent faculty, thereby guaranteeing you an eminent educational experience. There are at least 20 universities in Times Higher Education (THE) rankings 2020.

Since German universities work autonomously, and are some of the oldest in the world of education, employers look at them in high regard. German education is renowned world-wide, and so there are many large and mid-sized corporations that are associated with German universities for various research and innovation projects, and they also fund a number of these specific projects annually.

Once you have decided what you want to study and which university is aligned best with your career path, it’s pretty smooth sailing from there. The admission process is efficient, the student visa process is uncomplicated and before you know it, your European dream will be unfolding before you! We will dive deep into university education in upcoming blogs.

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