So where do we begin? Before you finally choose where you want to study for the next 3 years (or longer for some), it is pivotal that you do proper research to ensure you enjoy your life in university.
There is a wide variety of programmes offered to international students from the undergraduate all the way up to the post-graduate level in fields ranging from the natural sciences, to the arts and humanities, as well as the 21st century traditional German ‘powerhouse field of study’ – engineering. These are conducted in various languages such as German, English and even French. To find out what you are interested in, you can also take Orientation Tests such as the one organised by the state of Baden-Württemburg. Some questions which you could perhaps ask yourself are:
- What am I good at?
- What am I interested in?
- What career field am I interested to pursue in the future?
- Am I ready to do my complete degree solely in German, or should I do it in English and German?
For more information on the complete list of subjects offered in all higher education institutions in Germany, please click on the following link!
Choosing your University
Now that you have chosen what you want to do, a common question most people ask themselves is this: where should I study? Many would start by referring to the various international university rankings – these rankings are dime a dozen and while it may reflect some semblance of truth and renown, it does not fully show the individual strengths of the universities due to the general and overly simplified methodology which are often also disputed. While there are no official rankings of German universities by the German government, there are numerous rankings used to determine the standards of the German Universities, the most reputable one being the CHE DAAD University Rankings. The unique feature of this ranking system is that they do not pit universities against one another based on averaged-out general indicators, but rather, compare the universities by faculty and subject – this is a good way in ensuring that you choose the best university for the field you are interested in.
The CHE-DAAD rankings are useful as one can compare the universities using a diverse set of criteria, such as how international the university is, what kind of IT support and infrastructures are available, availability of research funding and many more, making it the most comprehensive guide to university education in Germany. Just as a guide, these are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Do I prefer a more research intensive university or one which prepares me for the work place?
- Do I want a university with many international students, or one with many Germans?
- Does the university provide any scholarship and bursaries for foreign students?
- Do I want to study in a small university town or a large cosmopolitan German city?
- Do I want to study in a large brand-name university with many students, or one with smaller class sizes and better support?
- What are my employment prospects?
As you may have noticed from the rankings, it is difficult to say which university is the ‘Number 1’ German university, since they are grouped together in tiers. This is because the universities have very different specialisations and it would be unfair to penalise a university if it takes a very different direction from other universities. Take Political Science, for example. A huge emphasis on the critical-dialectic approach is present at the University of Marburg, which is very different from the quantitative methods of inquiry at the University of Mannheim. This stands in stark contrast to the strong East Asian Faculty at the University of Tübingen, as well as the strong focus on North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin. Even in the same city, while the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is globally known for their expertise in the field of engineering, the University of Munich (LMU München) is on the other hand respected for its strength in the humanities as well as natural sciences, with its Physics faculty ranking tops in continental Europe. For this reason, it neither easy nor meaningful to obsess over which University is ‘the best‘ – rather, one should look out for the university’s strengths and own specialisations which would allow you to explore and further your interests, whatever they may be!
Things to note for Medical School
For our aspiring doctors, do take note that while it is in the works to obtain wider recognition from the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), only medical degrees from the following German-speaking universities are approved by the SMC as of 12.08.2011:
- Charite-Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Joint Medical School of the Free University of Berlin & Humboldt University)
- Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt (Medical Faculty of the University of Frankfurt am Main)
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (Medical Faculty of the University of Munich)
- Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg)
(Note: Admissions to university courses such as Medicine in Switzerland for non-Swiss or Lichtenstein nationals are restricted, so please check the following link if you meet the necessary requirements to study courses such as Medicine in Switzerland!)
Things to note for Engineering
The following are the list of German-speaking universities and respective engineering-related courses approved by the Professional Engineers Board of Singapore as of 28.12.2009:
|Rheinisch-Westfalische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen)||
|Technische Universität Berlin||
|Technische Universität Carola-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig||
|Technische Universität Darmstadt||
|Technische Universität München||
Swiss German-speaking Universities: