Study Engineering in Germany

Why study engineering at all?

The biggest reason you can have to study anything is that you like it. The second biggest of course is that your education will get you a professional standing. As far as getting a job is concerned, an engineer is placed better today than people in many other professions are. Primarily because – in manufacturing, which is one of the primary sectors of any economy – the number of opportunities for people other than engineers is falling rapidly, in proportion to the degree of automation. Manufacturing was both capital intensive and labour intensive until WWII. But thereafter, it started growing more capital intensive – with greater budgets being allocated to R&D, the newly anointed darling of the industry – but less labour intensive almost at the same rate, thanks to aggressive mechanization. That mechanization movement was driven not only by technical advances but also by safety regulations, which forced human beings to be withdrawn from many hazardous activities. As a natural consequence of that, we visualize manufacturing facilities no longer as a place where great wheels turn and great fires burn but as a place with a great key board, with many switches and displays. This type of manufacturing needs very few labourers but a great many engineers.

In addition to the new scenario in manufacturing, primary activities like mining or agriculture as well as tertiary activities like services – from amusement parks to airlines – now need a lot of engineers.

Why study engineering in Germany?

The industrial revolution that were to give the world of humans its current shape started in the UK sometime around AD 1700. During the 19th century, the UK was universally considered the world’s technological capital. The first nation to rival the UK in this matter was Germany, whose spectacular rise as a great industrial power – in the latter half of that century – upset the international order to such an extent that the world wars became inevitable.

However, since the end of WWII, Germany has used its engineering prowess purely for economic purposes. It is the largest economy in Europe by a ridiculous margin: its GDP is almost 50% greater than that of the UK, which is the second largest economy in Europe. And, the best thing in the engineering student’s perspective here, Germany is still a manufacturing hub: the worldwide trend of sending manufacturing jobs to Asian or African countries with low labour cost has not managed to silence the humming mittelstand, the agglomeration of prosperous medium sized German companies that work as suppliers to Germany’s largest companies like Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW or Porsche.

Not only does the size and health of the German economy guarantee that well qualified engineering students get good offers, but also the German government’s policy of harvesting international talent through its education system makes it much easier for international students settle in the country. One aspect of this talent harvesting policy is that Germany allows you a staggering 18 months to search for jobs if you complete your course on time.

Last but not the least, Germany is one of the most welcoming societies in Europe. Narrow minded ideologies drove the nation down a dark path in the 1930s. However, the lessons learnt through the WWII have been inculcated so universally throughout the nation that right wing politics has remained on the periphery of German society for over a seven decades. International students and expatriate professionals rarely report untoward incidents.

Entry requirements

You have to secure least a GPA of 2.8 in 10+2 or the equivalent of it.

It is advisable that you start the process of application soon after you have finished your 12th standard because German engineering colleges require that no more than 2 years should elapse between the end of schooling and the beginning of college.

On top of the school grades, you need certified German language proficiency at B1 level if you want to join a course taught in German. However, students with C1 level proficiency are preferred. That means clearing the TestDaF-4 or DSH-2.

The alternative is that the students who have completed A-levels pass the test in English language and literature. If a student has passed the exam in English language and literature as well as those in the other required subjects, he or she can pursue an Engineering course in English. However, fewer courses are available in English medium.

Cost of doing the course

In Germany, public universities require neither domestic students nor international ones to pay a tuition fee. The only exception are the universities in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. However, they charge a paltry 3,000 euros per annum.

Tuition fees at private universities may reach 26,000 euros per annum for bachelors in engineering and 40,000 euros per annum for masters. In fact, engineering courses have the highest tuition fees in the private universities in Germany.

Living cost in larger cities like Berlin or Frankfurt can be covered with 1500 euros for a month while, in smaller cities like Hannover or Leipzig, it will require about 1100 euros a month. Of course these figures presuppose that you will not splurge like a tourist.

Top universities to study Engineering in Germany

: Most people will probably agree that the top places to study engineering in Germany include De Technische Universitat Munchen (the Technical University of Munich), De Karlsruher Institut fur Technologie (Karlsruher Institute for Technology), RWTH Aachen, BTU Cottbus Senftenberg (Brandenburg University of Technology), the Magdeburg University, the Technical University of Berlin, Technical University of Kaiserslautern etc.

However, we can name at least another 20 universities with top level engineering programs and most them require you to pay no tuition fees.

Top Engineering courses in Germany

Bachelors in Engineering or Bachelors in Science in Construction Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Energy Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Sports Engineering are some of the top undergraduate engineering courses available in German colleges.

Work while you study

Non-EU/EEA students can work in Germany for 120 full days or 240 half days per year. If you take a job as a student assistant or research assistant at your university, you have no such limitation but you must notify the Alien Registration Office if you take up that type of work.

If you take up an internship during a semester break, the number of days will be counted and adjusted against your quota (120 days per annum) even if the internship is unpaid. However, internships taken up as part of the course do not eat into your quota. Furthermore, you can work only when don’t have classes to attend. If you study a language or a do preparatory course (Studienkolleg), you have to meet some more conditions.

Please note that non-EU students cannot freelance or be self-employed in Germany.

Students in Germany aren’t taxed unless they earn in excess of €450 per month. If you earn more than this, you will receive an income tax number and get the tax deducted from your salary automatically. Some employers may deduct tax despite the salary being lower than €450, but you can reclaim this part of the salary after submitting your income tax statement.

If an international student wants to work in Germany post the completion of studies, he or she can extend her stay for 18 months during which period he or she must find full time employment.

Healthcare benefits for international students

German law requires every international student to have their health insured. While students enrolled in degree programmes can avail public health insurance, students in preparatory or language courses and students over the age of 30 are required to purchase health insurance private providers.

Other than international students from within the EU, those from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey are not required to obtain health insurance from German insurers if they are covered by the public insurance plans in their home countries because those plans remain in force in Germany. However, those insurance schemes might not cover in Germany all that they cover in the source countries.

Internships and placement opportunity

You will not be short of opportunities to intern in Germany itself while you study. You might go to France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland or other European countries as far as Russia as well. The university will help you with finding a suitable internship though the information available on the DAAD website itself is hugely helpful in this regard.

Postgraduate study opportunity

German universities offer postgraduate courses in every field of engineering that you can study at the undergraduate level at any UK university. Masters courses can be pursued in English or German. But the options in English are fewer than those in German. Also, the proportion of courses in English at the masters level is lower than it is at the bachelors level.

Needless to say, the postgraduate courses in the UK are super specialized. If you study telecommunications engineering at the undergraduate level, you will probably study specifically radio frequency engineering at or some other subset of your undergraduate field at the postgraduate level.

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