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Studying abroad: German university degrees available worldwide

What would make you want to study at a German university? A respected German university degree? Immersion in the German language and culture? Both are also available to students outside of Germany, maybe even in your own country.

This service by German universities comes in response to increasing demand for higher education and professional training. Demand is particularly strong in transition countries that despite increasing economic success have not yet managed to build education systems that can compete with those in industrialised countries. As a result, many young people from transition countries are going abroad to study for an internationally recognised degree.

Studying abroad is gaining popularity

The Australian student placement organisation IDP has calculated that demand for transnational education will rise four-fold by 2025. Half of that demand will be for education opportunities in transition countries, so there is a trend towards exporting education to these countries.

German universities have been offering degree programmes abroad for ten years in partnership with higher education institutions in other countries. There are currently 44 such programmes around the world, most of them in China and Russia. For instance, working in partnership with Hefei University, the University of Osnabrück offers a programme in logistics management, a subject that cannot be studied at any other university in China. Graduates of this programme are awarded a degree by both their home institution and by Osnabrück. Studying abroad for a German-style degree, a scheme that was launched by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), has many advantages. All degree programmes receive financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provided they meet certain quality requirements. Students can therefore rest assured that their programmes meet high standards.

Most of the German universities’ foreign campuses are considerably smaller than their home base. For instance, the renowned RWTH Aachen University has a student body of 30,000 while its partner institution, the German University of Technology in Oman, has just 160 students. This has the obvious advantage of an excellent professor-to-student ratio, unlike at many large German universities.

Broad choice: From Agricultural Studies to German Language and Culture

The German-style degree programmes also benefit from a highly practical approach. Many were developed specifically to address the lack of skilled workers in some regions. ‘Besides being very hands-on, the curriculum included German language classes,’ says Valentina Sinichenko, who graduated from Sumy Agricultural University in Ukraine with a Master in Agricultural Management. ‘This was immensely helpful when I started looking for a job. In Eastern Europe many employers in this industry are looking for professionals who speak both Russian and German fluently.’

German language and culture are on the curriculum of most degree programmes abroad. Although they may not be taught in quite as lively a manner as in Germany, the courses are mandatory and require students to pass an exam. By contrast, in Germany it is often left up to the foreign students to decide how familiar they want to become with their host country and its language and culture.

Studying abroad is not free

There is one clear difference between German universities’ policy on tuition fees at home and abroad. While a university education is generally free of charge in Germany, students pursuing a German-style degree abroad face tuition fees of up to EUR 3,000 per semester. Then again, they don’t have to pay for travel and accommodation in Germany. ‘Also, the better support students enjoy while studying is worth it,’ explains Burkhard Rauhut, Vice Chancellor of the German University of Oman. He is aware that the often anonymous atmosphere at many German universities can be a problem for foreign students. ‘Because of this anonymity many students fail exams or take far too long to complete their degrees,’ he adds.

How do you feel about the idea of offering German degree programmes abroad? How valuable is a German degree in your country? And is it considered worthwhile to have studied and lived abroad for a while? Join the Community group ‘Studium und Forschung’ to share your opinions with us and let us know what your experience has been in this regard.


November 2011

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