Tuition, education for foreigners in Germany: educational system, scholarships, visas, practical training, search for a place of education
How to leave for Germany in order to study there at a higher education institution or college and to undertake practical training or internship? What student exchange programs and scholarships are available? You will find answers to these and many other questions in the given section of our website. It highlights the opportunities for receiving free-of-charge education, tuition-free education in Germany for foreign students, international students, after they finish schools, and also covers the possibilities of obtaining free-of-charge education.
§ The education system in Germany: school, vocational, higher education
As the German education has excellent reputation in many countries, the number of students arriving in Germany in order to receive the higher or vocational education and training is growing continuously. The share of foreigners accounts for over 10% of the students in the German higher education institutions.
The system of education is comprised of the general academic/ comprehensive school, vocational, and higher education, as well as extended education for the qualifications upgrading. The system of German education is featured by the substantial difference from the standard forms of learning, which are typical of the CIS countries, as well as by the use of its specific terminology, which has to be grasped by those willing to study in this country. More information about this can be found on a dedicated page of our website: Education system in Germany.
§ How a foreigner can go to study in Germany
First and foremost, a foreigner, who wants to study in Germany, needs to decide what field s/he would like to major in; in view of the fact that the German higher education institutions and colleges offer thousands of specialties, making a choice can be a difficult task. The online tests, being available on the German Internet, help young people in deciding on the sphere of learning as suitable for them. This can be done by visiting such websites as hochschulkompass, was-studiere-ich, self.
A foreigner willing to receive higher or vocational education in Germany has to produce the certificate of general school education, received in their country. For the purpose of his / her study at a higher education institution, the given certificate will be double-checked in Germany in order to decide whether it provides access for the given person to the German higher education – i. e., whether it corresponds to the German gymnasium certificate (a school certificate of completed 10th grade at a German high school). This can be done at the educational institution, which the given foreigner wants to enter, by applying to its department for international affairs/ International Office (in German: akademisches Auslandsamt).
If no correspondence is found, then the given foreigner has the following opportunities. A foreigner can enroll in one of the universities of their country and after a few semesters, again apply to a German university; most likely their certificate and a few semesters of studies will be enough to get access to the German higher education. Another opportunity is to attend classes at a German college of pre-university training (in German: Studienkolleg), upon graduation of which an exam is taken for admission to higher education. If a young person lives in Germany, s/he can get a matriculation certificate, which gives the right to study at a university (in German: Abitur). To this end, the evening gymnasiums or schools are available. Information on recognition and verification of educational qualifications in Germany.
Apart from the appropriate school certificate, the enrollee should have a sufficient level of the German-language knowledge. The information on which level of the German language knowledge is required to study at a higher education institution of Germany as well as the list of the German language proficiency certificates can be found on a dedicated page of our website.
The next step to be made in order to go to Germany to study is to search for the place of learning, studies and to obtain a confirmation or contract for education and training. For information about where you can search for a suitable university or vocational school, see below on this page. To contact a university, you need to find on its website the data of its department for international affairs known in German as Akademisches Auslandsamt (AAA), which can also be called the International Office (IC) and find out all the necessary information about the admission: terms, documents to be provided, certificate assessment, preparing a resume for study in Germany and so on.
And finally, to enter Germany, you need obtain a visa, see the information below on the page. After entering Germany, it is required to get a permit for a long-term stay in Germany, which is issued by departments of the Foreigners Registration Office (in German: Ausländerbehörde).
§ How to obtain a visa to study in Germany
The residents of the European Union and some other countries do not need any special permit to enter and study in Germany, however, foreigners from other countries have to get a visa to study in Germany. For accurate information, please contact the German Embassy or Consulate General at your place of residence. General information about getting a visa to Germany is provided on a dedicated page of our website. The following list shows the types of visas that can be issued to foreigners to study:
- Student visa to study at a higher education institution;
- Vocational education and training;
- Student exchange;
- Language instruction courses;
- Study at school /Schooling or school exchange.
In order to receive the German entry visa, a foreigner, wishing to study there, has to comply with a number of conditions as set for the issue of visas, and the major ones are presented in the list below:
- Application for getting a visa – if for the under-ages, with the parents’ signatures;
- International passport(Foreign passport) available;
- Admission to study, confirmation from an educational institution on admission or an agreement, contract on vocational education;
- Confirmation of the available money being sufficient for the funding purposes;
- Confirmation of the education received (school certificate, certificate, diploma) with the attached translation into German;
- Certificate of education being received at the current moment;
- Personal history report(CV) and a motivation letter;
- Confirmation of the German language knowledge;
- Medical insurance policy.
Depending on the type of visa and the country of origin, different sets of documents may be required.
§ Tuition fees in Germany, free education
Studies at state-funded higher education institutions in Germany are almost free, as the only items to be paid up are the semester fee and the passage ticket. Information on the university tuition fees in Germany and on obtaining a scholarship can be found on a dedicated page of our website.
§ Search for a university, college, vocational school and other places of study in Germany
In order to receive the list of the higher education institutionss offering a degree in the field of your interest, you can use one of the websites being convenient for the educational institutions search. One of the most appropriate websites is studienwahl.de, where you can receive information in English and simplified German, search for the desired university among more than 450 educational institutions and more than 18,000 specialties; advanced search provides the opportunity to look for a place of study, academic degree, specialty and other parameters. It is also worth visiting the hochschulkompass.de website of the Rector Assistance Fund, where it would be convenient to find the right educational institution as well.
In order to search for the desired place of vocational education (a vocational school or a firm), you can use the search service of the Federal Employment Agency – the Jobboerse and Berufenet. Apart from the search by the desired profession, here you can view the full catalogue of professions offered for training and a lot of other useful information on choosing a profession. Besides, the site is available in simplified German. You can also search for a place of vocational education on the Exchange of places for study.
You should also take note of the fact that the search for a place of study has to begin as early as possible, because the higher education institutions and the companies that offer vocational education and training have their own deadlines for submission of applications. Besides, quite a lot of time is required for receiving the appropriate visa.
§ Student exchange programs in Germany
In order to get a possibility for study at a higher education institution of Germany, you can use one of the student exchange programs, which make it easier to receive a chance for study in another country. Such programs allow you to study, undertake an internship and even get a scholarship for the duration of the studies. The list below provides the major programs suitable for international students studies in Germany:
- DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service;
- Erasmus Mundus – the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students; a student exchange program of the European Union;
- AFS – a non-profit organization engaged in international exchanges of high school students.
§ Practical training, student internship for international students in Germany
Students of foreign higher education institutions can also visit Germany to undertake practical training. Which requirements they have to comply with to this purpose, can be found out at the Embassy or Consulate General of Germany in their home country. The major conditions require that a foreign student has been enrolled in a higher education institution in his / her home country, which institution has to be recognized in Germany, and has already completed at least 4 semesters. Besides, the said student also has to find a place of practice in Germany and conclude an appropriate agreement, contract with the enterprise. To find a place of practice, it is possible to use the Jobboerse search service of the Federal Employment Agency, or visit websites of the following institutions assisting foreign students: DAAD, Goethe-Institut, and Max-Weber-Stiftung. Practice in Germany can last a total of no more than 12 months. If in the course of practice the student is not supposed to receive a sufficient payment from the company, s/he will have to provide of having the necessary funds at his / her disposal.
Support programs for internships are available in the European Union, LEONARDO, TACIS, ERASMUS, SOKRATES and others among them. When participating in one of these programs, it will be easier to get a place for practical training and a permit to undertake it.
§ Useful links to websites on the studies in Germany
- Information about education by the Federal Employment Agency of Germany
- The European Union online service on how to receive education under the Europass initiative
- The terms and conditions for undertaking practical training and internship in Germany – information on the Federal Employment Agency website
- Checking certificates of different countries for admission to German higher education on the DAAD website
- uni-assist.de – a paid portal for foreign students to apply for a place of study
- preparation of documents to study online