A 2011 British Council survey indicates that Germany tops the list of the most internationalised countries in the higher education arena, pipping Australia, the United Kingdom and China. The survey based its ranking on the education systems in 12 countries in terms of quality, reputation of degrees and support for foreign students.
“India and Germany share a strong collaborative strategy which makes it easy for students to study and find a job there,” says Vikas Shabadi, 24, who is pursuing a PhD in nanotechnology from the Darmstadt University of Technology near Frankfurt.
Germany is popular with international students who want to pursue engineering and business management. Engineering students are required to take the Graduate Record Examination and the Graduate Management Admission Test scores are required for an MBA, while the requirement of the Test of English as a Foreign Language varies.
Besides MBA aspirants, Germany is a popular choice for students interested in automobile engineering. In fact, the country is known for its automotive giants like Siemens and Mercedes-AMG.
“Research in biotechnology, molecular biology, and genetics is also a popular field for higher studies in Germany,” says Reena Savla, an education consultant with Edu Hub.
“I was looking at countries that are resilient to the economic crisis in Europe. Since Germany is home to market leaders like BMW and Volkswagen, studying there will help me get an intensive knowledge of brand imaging,” adds Vaishali Jena, 25, who is all set to pursue an MBA in marketing from the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar.
Higher education institutes in Germany are divided into:
* Universities of technology, which are mostly research-oriented and award PhD degrees.
* Universities of applied sciences, which are practice-oriented and offer courses in engineering, business administration, social sciences and design.
Ranking of universities in Germany is based on criteria like student and staff judgments on quality of teaching, academic atmosphere at the university, study equipment, number of students, average study duration and number of graduates.
Vivek Ghewari, 24, completed an MBA in technology management from the Northern Institute of Technology Management Hamburg-Harburg last year. He is now pursuing the second part of this dual degree, which is an MSc in mechatronics from the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg.
“Apart from that the main subject, there are other complimentary courses like European culture, art, literature, architecture etc. Study material is provided by professors in the form of presentation slides,” he says.
Education is subsidised by the state and, therefore, most institutions of higher education charge a small tuition — just about €500 (Rs 33,000) per semester. So, in Germany virtually every student can get a scholarship. However, you need to pay a semester contribution ranging from €50 to €250 (Rs 3,000 to Rs 16,000), depending on the university.
* Institutions like the German Academic Exchange Service offer scholarships and funding for master’s degrees, doctorates and post-doctoral research.
* The cost of living per month, excluding tuition fees, is approximately €800 (Rs 52,000).
In Germany, you are better off taking up university accommodation as opposed to renting private apartments.
“I was staying in university hostels within the campus. Every student is given a separate room. This room consists of a small kitchen, a bathroom and other facilities like the internet and satellite cable. At the hostel, we have our own gym, two common kitchens on each floor and a common room for parties or gaming over the weekend,” says Ghewari.
“Sharing apartments (Wohngemeinschaft or WG) with fellow students is quite popular in Germany. The two of us have a a common kitchen and bathing area and we pay about €250 (Rs 16,500) monthly as rent,” says Shabadi.
The work scenario
More universities are now offering paid internships as a part of the course structure. “Internships are an unwritten rule between professors and students.
Most of the universities are in constant touch with corporate firms and see to it that the students are given an opportunity to get first-hand field experience,” says overseas education consultant Pratibha Jain. While the stipend may vary, engineering students who get placed at the end of the course start with a salary of €35,000 (Rs 22 lakh) per year.
* Graduates can work for a year in any capacity to earn a living. Presently, international students are permitted to work for up to 90 full days or 180 half-days in a year.
Germany’s parliament recently adopted the blue card bill which, when implemented, will give international graduates unrestricted access to the job market. After finishing their course, students can work in the country in any capacity for a year.
Two years after they find jobs that conform to their degrees, they will get a permanent residence permit. Students earning more than €45,000 (Rs 30 lakh) per year will get a residence permit right away.
It is not mandatory to know German, but if you are acquainted with four levels of the language, it would be easier to interact with your fellow students and professors.
Top 5 universities
* Berlin University of Technology is well known for research courses in engineering and physics
* University of Heidelberg is known for research in natural sciences and sociology
* Munich University of Technology present in Munich, Garching, and Weihenstephan is noted for research courses in engineering and technology
* University of Hamburg is reputed for its master’s in social sciences and law
* RWTH Aachen in North-Rhine Westphelia is known for research in mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science
Knowing the language makes life easy when you have to interact with people and shows respect to German culture Vivek Ghewari, University of Hamburg-Harburg
The MBA course includes field trips to Kellogg School of Management, US and IIM-Bangalore Vaishali Jena, WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management