Should I consider applying to Germany?
There are 380 universities in Germany, ranging from world renowned institutions to recently established polytechnic style colleges, some of which are private and some state. When looking at the different types of institution available, these can be broken down into 100 ‘Universities’, 200 Universities of applied sciences and 100 specialised institutions such as a medical universities which are quite common outside of the UK.
Although not as widely known as US & UK Universities, Germany boasts some of the best Universities in the world including the Technical University of Munich and Jacobs University Bremen.
Germany is currently ranked the fourth most attractive destination for international students after the US, UK and Australia (as of 2017), but this can be misleading for IB students, as only a very small component of these international students are English speaking.
In 2020, Germany welcomed over 359,000 international students enrolled in all university courses. Most courses are taught in German, though there is a growing number of courses being offered in English at Masters level.
A further benefit of study in Germany is the strong connection between Universities and industry, with strong links to business and internship opportunities for undergraduate students.
Germany as a country offers an excellent standard of living, diverse options from big cities to rural options and has fantastic transport options, and should be considered for students keen to explore non UK-centric alternatives.
How do I find courses offered in English?
Useful tools to find cheap undergraduate courses taught in English are:
The IB has written a useful article about university admission to German Universities which can be read here and summarises the salient points you will want to consider: https://www.ibo.org/contentassets/5895a05412144fe890312bad52b17044/recognition-international-student-guide-germany-17-en.pdf
As per the IBO article above, only about 1,000 IB students outside of Germany applied to German universities in 2015, and of them they were mostly German passport holders.
So how are these courses priced, and who are they available to?
State universities tend to charge approximately £300/semester, though some private universities charge up to £17,00/annum. The pricing is more complex given the way the universities are divided and managed. In 2014 the 16 German states abolished tuition fees for undergraduate students, and this is true for both national and international students, at all state universities. This will continue to change on a state by state basis. Germany is certainly an attractive option financially.
Like in Holland, “When applications outnumber the places available, the number of places will be restricted (numerus clausus) and a centralised selection process will take place (for selected subjects only).”
NOTE: The CP is not formally recognised in Germany at the moment and can be complex for entry. You should contact the University directly with further questions.
How and when do you apply?
Applying to German Universities is not as straightforward as UK applications, given the way it is managed differently between different states, and between private and state funded Universities.
Uniassist is the rough equivalent of UCAS in the UK, though you can also apply to Universities individually. Uniassist is a very intuitive system, set up in English and we encourage you to explore the system to ensure you are familiar with the process.
Unlike UCAS or other countries however, you only apply to universities at the end of your studies, in this case in July, which for IB students, means once you’ve received your results. German Universities tend to have two start dates (a Winter start date and a Summer start date) so for Winter starts, the application deadline tends to be from mid July onwards. The general advice is that you typically want to apply 6 weeks before the deadline to allow time for back and forth in case your transcript is not fully documented or the universities come back asking for more information.
The process is relatively straightforward, though for IB students it’s important to have a history of school report cards to show ongoing aptitude, and not just the final results. Make sure you’ve taken time to diligently set aside and organise all of your report cards and any external qualifications, for ease of submission in one go.
You then submit your application, which includes a small fee, and you will typically hear back from universities within 6-8 week window. More information can be found here: https://www.uni-assist.de/en/how-to-apply/plan-your-application/deadlines-processing-time/?no_cache=1
In some cases, both an online and print application is required.
To bolster your chance of admissions, some students may want to try applying for the summer rather than Winter semester start, which is less competitive and easier to gain entry to.
What do they ask for in terms of IB grades and other metrics
In short, this is a very complex process, which varies both by university and by state, and is prone to changing year on year, but with the IB growing so healthily throughout Germany, this will no doubt improve over time.
“In order to determine if you meet all requirements for direct admission to a German higher education institution, you also have to submit all term reports/semester reports. The reports have to show the level of the 6 IB subjects during the 2-year IB programme.”
Given so many courses are offered in German, you may need to prove proficiency, which can usually be done by taking German A (HL or SL) or German B (HL) depending on the University. If you do not have either of these, you may need to take a University approved test.
German universities did not tend to recognise Maths studies, and we’re still waiting to find out their view on Maths AI SL, we will keep you posted!
For those keen to compare their IB aptitude with the German Abitur quafliciation, DAAD provide this rather complex looking formula. In short, 42-45 points equates to top marks on the Abitur (1.0).
Germany has some fantastic Universities, but the lack of instruction in English is a sticking point preventing it being a real alternative for most international school students. With the exception of Universities like Jacobs, which despite offering a very high service level, is also charged at equivalent rates to the UK, there are not many courses offered in English…yet. With rising interest from overseas, and growth of the IB and other similar programmes within the German school system, it will not be surprising to see more and more courses being offered either in English, or via blended approach. The free education is certainly an attractive proposition and many Germany universities are very widely recognised, but unlike other countries, you really need to put the hours in to establish quality and ensuring the institutions you are applying to understand your home qualification and levels of both English & German.