Free Study in Germany

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study in Germany Tuition-free coverBased on my wealth of experience at German universities, I offer you a unique insight and unparalleled in depth and detail into one of the unicorns of the international education market: Studying in Germany for free.

Before you ask me, yes, this is also free for foreigners including Africans!

For the first time, I offer a complete A-Z guide on how to study at German universities, on the traps and hurdles, the challenges and rewards, with a tell-all approach covering all aspects of studying for free in Germany for Nigerians and other foreigners.

If you want to order the complete Study in Germany for Free Guide please click here!

List of topics Discussed in My 106-Page Guide:

Introduction:
Your Guide to German Universities.
The Concept of Free Education in Germany.
Rankings of Colleges and Universities in Germany – the reader’s Manual
What to Study, and Which University to Choose

Chapter 1:
Living Costs, how to choose the right location, and how to finance your studies
The cost of living in Germany
Where to Live
Financing Your Studies
Health Insurance
University and Visa Application Process

Chapter 2:
The German Image Close Up
A Word on Efficiency
The Myth about the Booming German Economy
Health in Germany
Family, Marriage and Religion
Prostitution and Human Trafficking
Germany and its Immigrants: Stigma and Challenges
Germany and Its Past

Chapter 3:
University Life in Germany: What to Expect
Learning German and its Value
Fraternities
Making it Work: How to Study in Germany Successfully
Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitän
Postgrad Studies and MBA

Conclusion


In the guide, the information of not only how to study in Germany, but more importantly, how to succeed, is offered to Nigerians and other foreign students who are interested in studying in Germany, be it for undergraduate studies, graduate studies, or on an exchange program.

Besides university in Germany being free for anyone who gets accepted, are you aware of any of the following challenges:

Did you know that many lecturers in Germany make below Germany’s minimum wage?
Did you know that in many German universities, there is no graduation ceremony?
Did you know that the drop out rate for foreign students is up to 45%?

These and many more hard facts are covered in the guide, combined with, more importantly, information and strategies that help nigerian and other foreign students succeed in Germany:

  • Why many people are disappointed or fail, and how you can avoid the mistakes they made.
  • Which universities to choose.
  • The traps and pitfalls that keep many foreign students from graduating.
  • Skills and information that are crucial for success at German universities.
  • How much money you need.
  • The best places to live.
  • How long it takes to learn German, and in which cases you can avoid it.

 

The guide will give you a unique insight into the German university market that is still relatively untapped by students from some countries such as the U.S.

It is a must read for anyone who wants to know more about studying in Germany for free.

People who are intrested in studying in Germany have been asking this question:
Is studying in Germany really for free?

Answer: Yes, studying in Germany is really for free and is also free for foreign students. Anyone who is accepted into university is eligible to do a full degree program. Although there are administrative fees to be paid depending on where in Germany your university is located (usually less than 300 Euro/ 350 USD per semester, and in most cases it comes with a [b]free public transportation ticket[/b]), university in Germany is indeed free of any tuition fees.

The guide is a practical, experience-driven guide for those of you who are interested in or considering studying in Germany for free. it aims to give you an insight into the challenges, best practices and strategies that can help Nigerians and other foreign students study in Germany successfully, at a level that is far beyond the information that is available online.

Besides providing you with information about how to study in Germany in this guide, another goal of mine is to help you make a decision on whether studying in Germany is for you. In order to do this, I specifically went into detail of all the aspects of student life in Germany. You are considering moving to a country far away after all to spend several years of your life in.

Studying for free at university sounds great, doesn’t it? What I once took for granted growing up, began to sound like an unreal too-good-to-be-true tale after I left Germany upon graduating secondary school to take a gap year off to travel the world.

My friends from countries like the US, the UK, Japan and countless other countries were stunned to hear that university education is for free in Germany, and at times I was wondering if some of them actually believed what I told them.

The notion of free university education seems to be a concept that is hard to believe for some people, and upon hearing that universities in Germany are for free, I was asked many times about how to study in Germany as a foreigner, and how easy or difficult it is to study there, along with many other questions about life in Germany.

One note here: Since I get asked many times on whether it is possible to study in Germany without knowing German: The short answer is both yes and no. The longer and more specific answer to this question will be found in the chapter 4 of my guide: Postgrad studies and MBA.)

Meeting all these people and hearing their questions inspired me to write my guide.

Now, studying in Germany has always been for free, so how come that this seems to be unknown to many people? Well, here is the catch: Studying in Germany is far from easy. If it would be easy, everyone would do it, and it would indeed be too good to be true.

So if peoples’ questions and their curiosity was the inspiration for my guide, then the motivation to write it comes from the challenge of making information accessible to non-Germans about something that is far from easy, yet absolutely achievable when you are aware of the approach you have to take in order to succeed at German universities. Consider this guide a practical one, a personal account,a user’s manual, an advisory book, even self-help – the information you get out of it I hope will help you make the best decisions when it comes to your studies, even if you do not end up studying in Germany. (I rant about college debt a lot in this guide, so if you don’t study in Germany, at least I hope to keep you from putting yourself into huge amounts of debt in order to pay for university).

In the posts to follow, I will list the options that are out there for higher education in Germany, all the mistakes that myself and other people made in our University careers and how you can avoid them, and get into detail about the lifestyle, the obstacles, the cost of living and the risks and rewards that you can expect as a foreign student in Germany. I will lay out which types of schools are available, which schools are recommended, the challenges of learning German, the best places and cities for students, the traps and hurdles, the most common causes of failure, and provide a real, unbiased and honest view of what you can expect, with some positive and negative examples of foreign students that I have met in real life during my studies.

The content of the first few chapters in my book is more geared towards prospective undergraduate students who are considering doing their full undergraduate studies in Germany. However, exchange students as well as postgrad students will find the middle and latter parts of the book especially useful not only as a practical guide, but also as a experience guide of what to expect. I will touch on postgrad studies specifically in a later chapter in this book.

However, this book is not just about studying in Germany, but also about living in Germany, and Germany as a country. Chapter 3, ‘The German Image Close Up’, deals with this, and it focuses almost entirely on the topic of Germany, and not so much on universities or the education system. Chapter 3 is meant to give you an insight into the country you consider spending several years in, and it is an interesting read for anyone who is interested in Germany, its culture, its history, its contemporary topics and issues that are visible in today’s news about this ancient nation in central Europe. Thank you for interest in my book. I hope it will help you, or at least, educate you.

If you want to order the complete Study in Germany for Free Guide please click here!

A Guide to German Universities

Today I will give you an overview of the educational structure of higher education in Germany. I will touch on subjects like university admission, fees (yes there are some, although very low in comparison to the US), different types of schools and their reputation, and the various kinds of degrees offered in Germany.
It’s for Free, Right? – The Concept of Free Education

Before we get into detail, let me answer a common question that I frequently get asked about German universities:

Is it true that they are for free, even for non-Germans?
The answer is yes, almost.

If you study at a public university or college, which make up for more than 95% of German universities, then, depending on the state that you study in, the university tuition fees will vary from anywhere between 0 to 500 Euros per year, regardless of how many courses you take, and (in most cases), how long you have been studying. Included into the tuition fees is, in some cities like in Berlin for example, a full semester ticket that gives you unlimited usage of all of the city’s public transportation system all year round. Everything together, judging by the tuition fees and what you get out if it, is a pretty good deal for students.

Contrary to the US, student debt is considerably lower in Germany, as the only debts that students have to take on are the ones covering their living costs. Considering that some Universities in US and in Asia can cost a good 25k or even more per year, the price tag for university education in Germany definitely gives you more bang for the buck. (Or in many states, more bang for no bucks at all) For people wondering how a free education system can be maintained and offered so generously by the German government, here are three answers, two of which will directly affect you and your prospects of studying in Germany:

The first reason which will not affect you too much as a student is the high tax rate in Germany. This high tax rate is the source of financing of the free education system. On average, all tax rates, especially income tax (progressive tax rate, maxing out at a whopping 45% for people making 250k + per year), consumption tax (19% on most domestic goods and services as of 2015) as well as other social service deductions, are considerably higher than in the US. It is not unusual for middle to higher middle class households to lose 45% – 50% of their gross income in the form of tax, social security, and insurance deductions. And contrary to the U.S., there are very few loopholes or tax breaks for high income earners. In turn, some of the things that you have to pay a fortune for in the US, like education, are largely for free. A common saying in some European countries is that an average employee will spend the first half of the week until about mid-day Wednesday working for the country, and only after Wednesday noon, he/she will start making money for themselves.

The second reason for free university education will affect you a lot more as a student in Germany: Compared to the US and other countries that have high tuition fees and a high rate of private universities, universities in Germany are run like the bureaucratic and badly financed government agencies that they are. The level of bureaucratic inefficiency and chaos that can be performed by an overloaded, understaffed, anonymous and indifferent university bureaucracy in Germany can be as bad and German as it gets. This by no means applies to all Universities and all departments, and later in this chapter, I will go into detail about the different types of Universities that exist in Germany, and which ones are significantly better organized in terms of administrative practices.

Largely however, it can be said that the level of administrative service and academic organizational support is on average lower than at many universities in the US and Asia. Students are expected to organize their academic paperwork by themselves, and depending on the university, to collect an ever growing stack of academic certificates, to submit exam admission documents that are to be handed in by badly communicated deadlines at department offices that are decentralized and only open for a few tight time windows during the week. Administrative offices in German universities are chronically understaffed, and the level of assistance that they offer to students is significantly lower than at universities in the US.

A common issue for university freshmen is to find their way through the bureaucratic jungle, which at times remains a challenge throughout their studies all the way until graduation. The dreadful bureaucratic procedures can be a real source of delay and inhibitor of students’ academic progress: Especially at bigger universities, it is not uncommon to ‘loose’ a couple of courses per semester due to unresolved bureaucratic obstacles, which in turn will lengthen the time of studies. I will go into detail later on how to avoid these obstacles and how to keep the level of bureaucratic procedures at a minimum.

The comparably bad financing of public universities mentioned above can also be seen at the infrastructure and equipment: It is kept at a minimum, and compared to the US, college and university facilities are a lot less impressive. Many buildings are old and run down, you will see badly heated auditoriums seating several hundred people on old wooden benches full of scratches, IT labs with outdated equipment and software, small, overcrowded cafeterias built in the 60s that offer less than a handful of food choices per day. Sports facilities? There are only very few. And University sports teams competing at collegiate level are unheard of in Germany.

Let me get to the third and final reason of free education, and this is the one that will likely affect you most if you are considering doing an undergraduate degree in Germany: The relatively high hurdles of admission, and the relatively high hurdles of graduation. Not financially, but academically: In order to be admitted into undergraduate studies in German universities, a high school diploma alone is not enough. Admission rules in the highly decentralized German university system vary by state, but generally require additional qualifications on top of a high school diploma. The concept of an University entry qualification that is separate from a high school diploma is referred to as Fachhochschulreife, roughly meaning ‘higher education qualification’, and can be earned in various ways: In most states, this will be done by attending either two or three additional years of pre-university schooling, roughly the equivalent of a junior college, until students are awarded with the Abitur graduation, which awards the qualification to apply at any university in Germany.

The first reason which will not affect you too much as a student is the high tax rate in Germany. This high tax rate is the source of financing of the free education system. On average, all tax rates, especially income tax (progressive tax rate, maxing out at a whopping 45% for people making 250k + per year), consumption tax (19% on most domestic goods and services as of 2015) as well as other social service deductions, are considerably higher than in the US. It is not unusual for middle to higher middle class households to lose 45% – 50% of their gross income in the form of tax, social security, and insurance deductions. And contrary to the U.S., there are very few loopholes or tax breaks for high income earners. In turn, some of the things that you have to pay a fortune for in the US, like education, are largely for free. A common saying in some European countries is that an average employee will spend the first half of the week until about mid-day Wednesday working for the country, and only after Wednesday noon, he/she will start making money for themselves.

The second reason for free university education will affect you a lot more as a student in Germany: Compared to the US and other countries that have high tuition fees and a high rate of private universities, universities in Germany are run like the bureaucratic and badly financed government agencies that they are. The level of bureaucratic inefficiency and chaos that can be performed by an overloaded, understaffed, anonymous and indifferent university bureaucracy in Germany can be as bad and German as it gets. This by no means applies to all Universities and all departments, and later in this chapter, I will go into detail about the different types of Universities that exist in Germany, and which ones are significantly better organized in terms of administrative practices.

Largely however, it can be said that the level of administrative service and academic organizational support is on average lower than at many universities in the US and Asia. Students are expected to organize their academic paperwork by themselves, and depending on the university, to collect an ever growing stack of academic certificates, to submit exam admission documents that are to be handed in by badly communicated deadlines at department offices that are decentralized and only open for a few tight time windows during the week. Administrative offices in German universities are chronically understaffed, and the level of assistance that they offer to students is significantly lower than at universities in the US.

A common issue for university freshmen is to find their way through the bureaucratic jungle, which at times remains a challenge throughout their studies all the way until graduation. The dreadful bureaucratic procedures can be a real source of delay and inhibitor of students’ academic progress: Especially at bigger universities, it is not uncommon to ‘loose’ a couple of courses per semester due to unresolved bureaucratic obstacles, which in turn will lengthen the time of studies. I will go into detail later in this chapter on how to avoid these obstacles and how to keep the level of bureaucratic procedures at a minimum.

The comparably bad financing of public universities mentioned above can also be seen at the infrastructure and equipment: It is kept at a minimum, and compared to the US, college and university facilities are a lot less impressive. Many buildings are old and run down, you will see badly heated auditoriums seating several hundred people on old wooden benches full of scratches, IT labs with outdated equipment and software, small, overcrowded cafeterias built in the 60s that offer less than a handful of food choices per day. Sports facilities? There are only very few. And University sports teams competing at collegiate level are unheard of in Germany.

Let me get to the third and final reason of free education, and this is the one that will likely affect you most if you are considering doing an undergraduate degree in Germany: The relatively high hurdles of admission, and the relatively high hurdles of graduation. Not financially, but academically: In order to be admitted into undergraduate studies in German universities, a high school diploma alone is not enough. Admission rules in the highly decentralized German university system vary by state, but generally require additional qualifications on top of a high school diploma. The concept of an University entry qualification that is separate from a high school diploma is referred to as Fachhochschulreife, roughly meaning ‘higher education qualification’, and can be earned in various ways: In most states, this will be done by attending either two or three additional years of pre-university schooling, roughly the equivalent of a junior college, until students are awarded with the Abitur graduation, which awards the qualification to apply at any university in Germany.

Other ways to achieve university entry qualification are through various ways of combined graduation of high school, on-the job training, vocational schools, and evening schools. For foreigners seeking entry into German undergraduate courses, there are a myriad of ways to prove that your education level is the equivalent of the German Abitur granting immediate eligibility to apply at any university in Germany:

•For instance, if you are from the US/Nigeria and have attended a total of 12 years of schooling with all 16 academic units achieved being a combination of Math, language and sciences, and have achieved 1300 points in SAT test and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, or an ACT score of 28, you are regarded as having completed a level of schooling equal to the Abitur and are eligible for direct application at any university in Germany without any additional form of schooling or testing required. Reference: (Admission requirements. (n.d.). Retrieved January 07, 2016, from https://www.daad.de/deutschland/nach-deutschland/voraussetzungen/en/6017-admission-requirements/. Of course, as most undergraduate courses are taught in German, language school would still be necessary. More about that later in this book.

•There are many different combinations that are considered as equivalently qualifying as the above (and likely also far more achievable), such as a combination of a lower SAT score with several years of completed education at US universities, etc. I recommend you to Google for Germany University Admission. Once you have found the website of the German academic service, you can find information about eligibility specific to your country and the level of education you have achieved so far in relation to German university entry requirements, and which additional courses and exams will be necessary in order to achieve them. You will be surprised at the many different combinations they came up with.

•Generally though, what the vast majority of foreign students will have to complete in order to qualify for eligibility of university access in Germany is a one-year preparation course, followed by an exam: The so-called Studienkolleg is the entry course into German higher education that most prospective foreign students go through: It is a combination of science, language and humanity courses that provides graduates the qualification to apply at German universities. Although this course does include German language subjects such as literature, a solid level of German is a prerequisite to enrol.

Towards the end of this course, exams will cover all subjects, as well as an exam in advanced German that is considered university level. The Studienkolleg is, much like universities, for free, even for foreigners. (With some rare regional exceptions) It is also the place where you will rub elbows with other students from across the world and study together with them. It can be a fun, yet very challenging time: The preparation course is short, but the curriculum is packed, and the academic level is relatively high. If possible, I recommend you commit to this course full time, without much distraction of a part time job.

•Ultimately and not to forget, any university preparation course as well as the vast majority of undergraduate degrees offered in Germany are taught in German. An extensive university preparatory language course would be highly recommended for most foreign students. More about that later.

Apart from the academic hurdles of university access, graduation itself is also a challenge that is not to be underestimated: Dropout rates are relatively high, and the number of students leaving university without a degree is considerable. As of 2014, it was estimated that up to one third of all students enrolled at German universities leave their school without obtaining a degree.

The reasons for dropping out of college and leaving institutions of higher education without graduating are numerous, ranging from issues with keeping up with the academic level to financial issues, yet it can be said that the weak infrastructure and poor administrative and academic support of poorly financed German public universities certainly are a contributing factor.

To summarise above information, you see that although education is largely for free, it is harder attainable academically. Limiting access to higher education is one of the ways to sustain the free education system, as keeping student numbers low means that despite free education, the amount of money that has to be spent for education remains foreseeable and controllable. In this light, the promise of a free education system that is often admired by people outside of Germany becomes a bit more nuanced by its evident shortcomings, in that the system in its current form appears to fail at generating a larger college-educated population:

As of 2012, enrolment rates at German universities were at 54% of that year’s total student population that graduated with at least a high school diploma. Graduation rates from Universities for 2012 were far less, at 31% of students that graduated with at least a high school diploma. This puts Germany in terms of university graduation rates far below countries like Iceland (60%), Poland (53%), and the US (39%) (all for 2012).

Considering the low cost of education in Germany, this is an astonishing number. After all, a free college education sounds like a dream to many US students who are either heavily in debt or have made strides for their education by serving in the military for several years.

The info provided above is not to discourage you, but to give you a clear, unfiltered understanding of the educational system in Germany, the challenges and obstacles that can await you, and the implications for you as a prospective student at a German university. All of the above numbers, statistics and observations are cold, hard facts. Later in this book, I will provide you with more cold, hard facts on how to address these obstacles and how making the right decisions early on can greatly improve your chance of successfully graduating from a German university.

Colleges, Universities and their Rankings in Germany – a User’s Manual

Much like the above concepts of free education and university admission qualification that is separate from a high school degree, the German university landscape has its similarly distinct and complex features. Features that when not understood or understood too late, can lead you to make the wrong decisions early on, which are very hard to correct later on in your university career and can make the difference between success and failure.

Let’s begin with a question to you: Name three prestigious German universities? Do you know them by name and location? If not three, can you name one? I have asked this question to many people who were interested in knowing more about studying in Germany, and yet few of them were able to even name one university, other than generic names such as ‘University of Berlin’.

For the biggest country in central Europe that offers free education and has a centuries-old history of higher education, the lack of international recognition on a wider scale comes as a bit of a surprise. Compared with the US, England or even France, naming a famous German university seems like a challenge. The lack of widely recognised trademark-name universities in Germany is due to a number of reasons. Besides their long, dorky and hard to pronounce names, their scientific profile often lags behind that of universities of other countries due to the fact that a lot of the high-end research is done in research institutes rather than at universities: The Max Planck institutes for example represent the largest and most respected of such research institutes.

Scientific research on a wide range of subjects is conducted on a very high level at these research-only institutes, which operate largely independently from universities. The way high level research is organised in Germany is largely born out of tradition, and it comes to no surprise that the most prestigious research publications are generated in these institutes rather than at universities, which contributes to them having a lower scientific profile internationally.

This is partially evident in international university rankings: While German universities are surprisingly scarce in the top 100 of international university rankings, regularly represented by only one to three universities in the mid to lower ranges, the Max-Planck Society, which is the head organisation of the Max-Planck Institutes across the country, ranked No. 1 in the 2006 Times Higher Education supplement rankings of non-university research institutes.

This is not to say that German universities neglect research: On the contrary, they conduct research on a rather high level both in quality and quantity, and the financial resources allocated to research at public universities is significant, often at the cost of fiercely neglecting undergraduate programs, which I will cover further below.

However, at the top end, the cream of the crop science talent gets drawn to the better financed, more prestigious research institutes, or, which is also not uncommon, to foreign universities that are financially and academically better equipped, especially in the US. Now to give you an answer to above question, here are the names of five of some of the most prestigious universities in Germany. Recognise any of them?

Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg; Humboldt-University of Berlin; Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich; Georg-August-University of Göttingen; Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen.

If those names don’t tell you anything, that’s ok. But this leads us straight to another important piece of information: One characteristic of the German university system is that there is not much difference in prestige and quality of education between Universities in Germany. A degree from the University of Rhine-Waal will be regarded as equal to one from the University of Nürnberg-Erlangen; The difference between graduating from the University of Furtwangen and the Free University of Berlin is, despite the more recognizable name of the latter, a relatively small factor judging by level of prestige or educational value. The quality, the content and the level of the classes are on a largely similar and equivalent level at the vast majority of universities in the country. Unlike the US or the UK, where a university’s name has significant impact on the value of the degree obtained, the public, federal and highly regulated structure of the German university system has produced a largely equal reputation, quality and ranking of universities.

Even the introduction of the so-called Excellence Initiative, which in 2006, 2007 and 2012 has awarded a number of universities with special recognition and funding for their scientific research efforts, has had limited impact on universities’ reputation and quality of teaching on an undergraduate level, both in prestige as well as in the quality of the programs. This can partially be attributed to the fact that the bulk of the awarded funds went straight into research and graduate studies programs.

What this means for you is that on an undergraduate level, the name and the location of the university you choose will not make much of a difference in terms of reputation or educational quality. Do not bother about the name when looking for a university to enter, because the more important factor is, as I will mention in the following chapter, the subject of your major and the type of school. Of course, there are more and less popular universities in Germany, but to a significant part for factors other than reputation: Universities in big cities like Berlin or Hamburg tend to be more popular than the ones in Leipzig or Ludwigshafen.

The name of the university and institute you study in will be significantly more important when you enroll in a postgraduate or PhD program. These tend to be more distinct and specialized, and the names of the Professors teaching the courses will have an impact on the reputation of the degree awarded. I will cover this topic more detailed in a later chapter in this book under ‘postgrad studies’.

Later in this chapter, I will take on the ambitious and daunting task of giving you advice on which subjects and which universities to choose. To anticipate this, here is a final important section of the user’s manual for German universities: The two-tier classification of German universities that used to exist, and the impact that their classification has until this day on the educational value that they offer to students. This may sound like a contradiction to the above mentioned equality of most German universities in regards to reputation and educational content. While this is true for the degrees that they award, the reputation that they carry and the content and academic level of the classes, there is a difference in the quality of the teaching methods and the circumstances in which those educational contents are offered to students, a well as the academic support and the attention that the school can provide to students:

Up until 2010, the German university landscape had for many decades been divided into a two-tier system: There was a highly institutionalised distinction between Universtiät (university) and Fachhochschule (the equivalent of technical college or a polytechnic school). The distinction had significant impact on the way higher education was conducted in each of the two school types and the reputation of the offered degrees, as well as the ways of admission. To give you a rundown, here is how it worked until 2010 (And yes, this does have some effect until today and will likely influence your decision on which school to choose):

An Universität is a full-fledged university in the classical sense. It offers a wide range of classical subject degrees such as humanities, medicine, law, culture and liberal arts majors, alongside various science subjects and engineering courses. Universities are seen as science and research oriented institutions, and their goal is to conduct and establish a strong scientific foundation on each of their areas of research. As such, their graduate schools, institutes and research facilities are usually well funded and have a good reputation. Teaching undergraduate students and providing good educational value however, is something that is rather neglected, on a surprisingly large scale. In some of the worse cases, this is done bluntly and even purposefully, as undergraduate courses are seen by some Professors and departments as a tool to ‘seed out’ top scientific talent by setting exam standards to such a level that only a certain percentage of the students can keep up with them. This depends on each department and professor, but more often than not, educating undergraduate students is one of the lower priorities of German universities.

German university professors consider themselves more as scientists and researchers than lecturers, and the number of those who neglect the teaching aspect of their job is considerable. They are hired as researches in first place, and in the traditional German university system, their job performance and prestige is generally judged by the quality and quantity of their research papers and not by student satisfaction or the quality of undergraduate courses offered. Taking student experience and performance even into account is a not-so-common practice in Germany when it comes to judging a university’s quality. This also is slowly changing, and several impulses from federal governments are pointing into a more student-focused direction, but especially in the traditional universities (Universität), student satisfaction used to be regarded as an almost irrelevant factor in judging any professor’s or university’s performance. The most important criteria that matters for universities in Germany remains their research output.

This results in poor funding of undergraduate and even some graduate courses, with a number of consequences: Undergraduate courses in universities tend to be overcrowded and poorly structured, academic support is minimal, dropout rates are generally higher in universities than they are at technical colleges.

This is especially true for science, engineering and business majors, and to a lesser extent for social studies, humanities and liberal arts, partially because the latter subjects are not offered as majors in most technical colleges. Furthermore, the time that students require until graduation is significantly longer at universities: Until 2010 and even beyond, it was not uncommon in some subjects to have an average time-until-graduation timespan of 6-8 years until a university diploma equivalent of that of a Bachelor’s degree was awarded. That is, for an undergraduate degree pursued on a straight course, without changing your major or taking time off. By the time students had finished their undergrad studies, some had hit their late 20s or even early 30s.

The second type of university in Germany used to be the Fachhochschule (technical college, polytechnic school), which are institutions of higher education whose main focus lies on education, mostly in the fields of business, engineering, and to a lesser degree social sciences and healthcare. Their curriculums tended to be more structured, their classes smaller, the average length of study shorter and the dropout rate lower. Academic support was better organized, and the general orientation was less scientific research and more the application of knowledge for various subject fields. These schools often had a close relationship to companies, as in most cases, students were required to complete an industry internship as part of their studies.

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