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QUESTION: Dear Mr/Herr Moser,

I apologise if this is not your expertise, but since you say you studied in a German University, I assume you know which German universities are considered good :)

I'm from England, and i'm hoping to study in Germany next year, since i want to work in Germany or Switzerland one day. But my German isn't good enough to enter a german-speaking course (i definately wouldn't pass the german aptitude test- though i have spent 5 years learning it!). So i'm looking for an english-taught course in International business/Business management. (i think 'international business' sounds more impressive than just a regular business degree).

Since i'm considering both International business and Business Administration courses, the universities given (from daad.de) are:

Frankfurt (Oder) U:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?

Vallendar WHU:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?

Wiesbaden EBS:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?

Köln CBS:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?

Berlin HTW:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?

Karlsruhe IKH:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?

Nürnberg H:   http://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/alle-studiengaenge/06540.en.html?


Are any of these Universites good? If you were in my position, and grades weren't an issue, which one would you choose? Or are there better ones?

Danke fur deine zeit!

Yours,

Ryan

p.s. I like your blog :)

ANSWER: Hello Ryan,

thanks for your kind words about my blog and congratulations on your interest on studying in Germany! I think it's a wise choice: You will escape the English tuition fees, you will be in the centre of Europe and even if your course is in English, your German will improve by living in the country.

I don't know any of the specific programmes that you have listed (and thank you for providing the links already), and I only know a few of the universities listed, so I will start with some general points which I think differ from the Anglo-Saxon world of education:

a) In Germany, state universities are generally better than private universities. They are usually less expensive, which may seem odd at first, but education is considered a public good.

b) Private universities usually accept anyone who pays. Because their income depends on keeping the students, they hardly fail anybody.
At state universities however, the academic standards are rigorous. I studied law at a state university (Regensburg) and 50% of my class failed the first year. After 4 years, 25% of the intake were left, of which another third failed the final exam.
Because of this, I would highly recommend a state university. It will be serious and tough work. It will be a lot. But it will be worth it.

c) The third benefit of state universities is that they usually have better international contacts. One reason is simply that they have been around for longer, some of them for hundreds of years, so they had time to foster relationships with universities abroad.
On the continent, it is almost standard that you will study in another country for one or two semesters. If you attend a state university, you will usually be eligible for the ERASMUS funding.

d) There are Universitäten, Fachhochschulen and Hochschulen. They can all bestow a BA or an MA. If I had to choose between these, I would always put an emphasis on a Universität. These are usually older institutions which offer a range of subjects and are equally focused on teaching and research. They usually have much more international contacts.

e) Having said all that, in Germany the name of the university is usually not that important. We don't really have the same 1st, 2nd, 3rd tier system as you have in the UK or the US. Generally, if you have graduated from a university, your degree will be very respected and it doesn't make much difference from which university you graduated. (Except maybe if the guy who will hire you went to the same university.)

Now to the ones that you listed:

Wiesbaden EBS is currently mainly in the news for lawsuits between itself and its former head. Nobody knows what will happen, but it certainly won't help the reputation. There is a slight possibility that the university will lose parts of its funding due to the negative news. All of this may be completely unfair on the students, but I should mention it.

Berlin, Frankfurt/Oder and Nürnberg seem to be the state universities, so I would prioritise them.

Of these three state universities, only Frankfurt/Oder is a real traditional university, originally founded in 1506. I would say it has a few more things going for it: All its programmes are geared towards Europe and European integration. It is located on the border with Poland, which is interesting for travelling and means that it's cheaper to live there. It offers integrated double degrees with universities in other countries. It is generally an academically very well respected university. (The SPD's presidential candidate in 2004 and 2009, Ms Gesine Schwan, was chancellor of that university.)

About the other private universities I have to admit I don't know anything. Of WHU I have heard some times in the news, so it has some name recognition. Of the others, I haven't even heard.

So, if I could choose, I would go to Frankfurt/Oder.
I have actually said this often before: If I could choose again, I would have picked a university in Eastern Germany. After reunification, they got a lot of funding and a lot of professors. They still don't have that many students, their buildings and libraries are new and the cities are cheaper to live in. It's a students' paradise. Also, you are only 90 km from Berlin, so it's perfect for air travel, internships and so on.

If you come across any other questions later on in the process, I'll be happy to help anytime.
Alles Gute und viel Erfolg!

Andreas Moser
www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com
www.mosereien.wordpress.com

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Herr Moser,

Thank you again for your answer. I still have a printout of what you told me as you were so helpful. :)

I'm writing to you today because I'm quite confused about the whole application process for applying to a German University. I hope that you can assist me in whatever way that's possible for you. I know that my question is really long, so if it’s too much, I’ll understand if you can only answer parts of it.


The main problem I’m facing at this moment is that my parents are totally against the idea of me studying in Germany as opposed to a UK university. Therefore, they've refused to assist me financially unless I go to a British University. I've told them:

1. It's my dream to work in Europe (I would love to live in South Germany, eventually Munich when I'm older and have a family). Studying in Germany would be a major step towards that.

2. I've been learning German for 6 years, so I can hold a decent conversation. The course I’m applying for is English taught anyway (so I don't need to be native fluent).

3. No tuition fees (I'll have to pay £40,000 more to study in England than in Germany).


Their main objections are that:

1. There will be a language barrier between myself and everyone else. (Even though ~50% of the students will be foreign born and the course will be in English).

2. UK universities are 'superior' to German Universities, and I won't be able to get a job with a degree from a German University. They say that even German students would prefer to study in the UK. They think German Universities are for 2nd class students.

Is there anything you could suggest me to tell them that would change their mind? I'm totally convinced a German University would be right for me in both the short term and long term, but they just can't seem to see it.


In the probable event that they won’t change their minds, I’m not sure if i’ll be eligible to receive financial aid/student loan from the British or German Government to study in Germany either.
I was under the impression that as an EU citizen, I was entitled to everything a German also financially receives. But according to this Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_loans_in_Germany), I won’t be. This British website about university finance says the British government won't fund it either (https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/who-qualifies). I know that there will be no tuition fees, but i will need to spend about £20,000 in living expenses over 4 years.

Is there any other way to fund my studies apart from the options above? (As you’re a lawyer, I'm sure you know that there can be loopholes in many unexpected places!). There must be another organisation who will offer me a low-interest student loan/financial help somewhere. I looked on the Bafoeg website (http://www.bafoeg.bmbf.de/) but I couldn’t find anything that would help me. Do you know anywhere else?

Finally, do you know anything else I would need to sort out before I (hopefully!) study in Germany?
I know that to study in Germany, I would need:

1. My passport (valid until I finish my degree)
2. Find a place to live before I travel to Germany
3. A residence permit
4. A notification from the university of my admission
5. Proof of financial resources
6. Birth certificate, school leaving certificate,
7. My European Health Insurance card
8. Book of vaccination certificates

Is there anything else?

Thank you for your time :) I appreciate your time in reading this and I look forward to your reply!

P.s. This is the list of the Universities I will apply for soon if you’re interested.

1. Georg Simon Ohm University of Applied Sciences Nuremberg (Nürnberg)
2. Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences (Reutlingen)
3. Berlin School of Applied Sciences (HTW) (Berlin)
4. University of Magdeburg (Magdeburg) *
5. Berlin School of Economics and Law (Berlin)
6. Furtwangen University (Villingen-Schwenningen) [This is my favourite! Villingen Schwenningen is such a cute town, and I have friends who live near.
7. Deggendorf University of Applied Sciences (Deggendorf)-370Euros/month
8. Mannheim University of Applied Management Studies (Mannheim)-200Euros/month *
9. European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Frankfurt Oder)

http://goo.gl/maps/Cy6mI


Course: International Business (Management/Administration)

University fees: <500Euros
Not private
Able to send my application (not past deadline)
English taught

(* Open admission )

Answer
Hello Ryan,

I am sorry to hear that you don't have the support of your family, but I applaud your determination. You are one of the few students who have a real plan for the next few years of their life instead of just going to the closest university or following all of your peers.

I will address your parents' objections in the order that you have listed them.

language barrier:
a) I don't think there will be any language barrier. Everyone in Germany is fluent in English. I was born in Germany and went to school there, I have no international background, and before I went to the US for the first time I had to take the TOEFL test. I scored in the top 1% worldwide. I later did the same for the IELTS. And this is not only me, both these tests routinely get excellent from Germany. And all of that based on the English I learnt at High School in Germany. If you have travelled in Germany, I am sure you have also noticed that you could get along without any German.
b) Plus, you DO speak German! And you will see that it will develop so much faster once you will be in the country.

German universities second class:
a) I doubt that anybody who hasn't studied in both countries can really judge that. But I would say that Germany wouldn't be a top country economically and scientifically if it didn't have top universities.
b) It is true that more international students go to the UK than to Germany, but that's mainly the case because people in India, China and Pakistan don't speak German (and also because they want to go where their cousins are).
c) In my last reply I listed the percentages of how many students in Germany fail the course, demonstrating the rigour of the German universities. It's really tough. If you manage to get a degree there, you know you are smart. In the UK, I hardly ever hear of anyone who fails a course.
d) I studied in Germany (law) and I am now studying in the UK (philosophy and politics). For my BA in law in Germany I had to write 2 or 3 term papers every semester which were longer and more academic than what I have to write as a Master's thesis in the UK.
e) Also, in Germany studying was much less organised by the university. I had to organise much more myself, which helped me to grow up quicker and become independent. In the UK universities, I still feel like in secondary school.
f) Employers won't hire or not hire you because of what university you went to, but because of what internships you did and what languages you speak. Speaking two languages will give you a great advantage. Speaking English is just nothing special anymore today. Speaking the language of Europe's most important economy is. And as far as I am following the economic news, it's not like the UK is catching up fast, to put it mildly.

Getting the BAFöG seems to be really tricky, even though you are a fellow EU citizen:
http://www.bafoeg-rechner.de/FAQ/bafoeg-fuer-auslaenderinnen.php
You might want to look at the website of the DAAD. They provide scholarships to foreign citizens wishing to study in Germany, but there are confusingly many different programmes.
I also know that some banks offer loans, but unfortunately I don't know the details about that.

As to the things you listed, you don't need a residence permit. Once you have started your studies and you can show that you have health insurance and sufficient funds (which could also be a part-time job), you can apply for an EEA residence card as a EU citizen exercising his freedom of movement rights. But you don't need this residence card. It is purely declaratory, but does not bestow any rights which you don't have due to the EC Treaty anyway.
I also don't think you need the vaccination certificates. I don't have any and it was never a problem when I moved around Europe.
As to the health insurance, I am not sure how long you will be able to use the EHIC because I think it is not intended for long stays but to cover medical expenses when you fall ill during visits. I have the suspicion that if the NHS would find out that you have actually left the UK for good, they might refuse to fund your medical bills in Germany.

I really hope very much that it will work out for you!
I know you will enjoy it and be successful.

Andreas Moser
www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com  

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Andreas Moser

Expertise

German history, politics, law, business, culture, everyday life.

Experience

I am German. I was born in Germany and lived there for 33 years. I studied law in Germany and practised as a lawyer for 7 years.

Publications
My blog: www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com

Education/Credentials
Law Degree: Universität Regensburg MA Philosophy: Open University (ongoing) BSc Development & Economics: LSE (ongoing)

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