"Sprechen sie Deutsch? Nein? No problem..."

Lucy Lee didn’t have grand globetrotting plans. At school, she assumed she would follow the usual route: GCSEs and A-levels at a local school, hopefully leading to a degree at a UK university. That’s pretty much how things panned out – until she set her heart on postgraduate study at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee (KHB) in Berlin.

“I had no ideas about coming here as I was growing up,” Lee says. “I knew very little about the German education system.” But after completing her BA in sculpture at the University of Wolverhampton, she looked further afield. “Berlin is really well known in the art world, and when I researched it, I realised it would be possible to study here.”

What made it so was the support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), an agency that promotes Germany as an international study and research destination, and provides financial support. As Svenja Rausch, programme co-ordinator at the organisation’s London Office explains: “We make funding decisions based on academic excellence. Applicants put together a proposal, and we consider if it fits with their background and skills and howthey want to progress.”

Germany’s 233 state and about 80 private universities run around 4,700 postgraduate courses between them. Alongside PhD programmes, internationally recognised Masters qualifications are now the most common. UK applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and don’t need a visa.

The DAAD says approximately 4,500 students from the UK are studying for postgraduate qualifications in Germany. “We would like more,” says Ralf Bürkle, Communications Director at the Mannheim Business School (MBS). “We know UK students are high-calibre.”

Currently, they make up about 5 per cent of MBS’s intake – “but we’re noticing a growing interest and an increasing number of applications from the UK.” That fits with the trend: student website studienwahl.de reports that the proportion of foreign students in Germany has risen from 7.9 per cent in 1995/1996 to 9 per cent in 2008/2009.

Liane Schwartz, Communications Manager at Mannheim, a large public university partnered with MBS, believes this number could be higher. “We only have a few full-time [post]graduate students from the UK,” she notes. “That’s probably because there are currently legal language requirements at public universities for enrolment purposes.”

There’s no such barrier at the Business School, however: “Our MBA and executive MBA programmes can be done fully in English,” says Bürkle.

Jacobs, a private university in Bremen, goes further. “Because our goal is to be international, we are 100 per cent an English-language university,” explains Marie Vivas, director of admissions. However, she thinks international students would do well to learn some German: “It opens up other opportunities. You could happily spend years on this campus without ever learning a word of German, but that would be a shame, in my opinion.”

Students tend to agree. “I didn’t speak any German before I came to study here,” says Lee. “The DAAD paid for me to do a two-month language course when I arrived, and I kept that up throughout my studies.” Her course was taught through meetings and discussions. “Officially, it was in German, but we often spoke English. It would have been possible to succeed without any German at all, but I think it’s important to integrate.”

For Ben Carreras, language wasn’t a problem. He learnt German at school in Spain, took A-levels in Wiltshire and did his first degree at Swansea University. Then he got a DAAD scholarship; he is now completing a Masters in international economics at the University of Paderborn, studying half in English and half in German.

Neither he nor Lee found it difficult to acclimatise. “My friends here are all German because I’m keen to throw myself into this environment,” Carreras says. At Mannheim, Schwartz says students are given personalised support so they can develop their study plans and settle in. At Jacobs, Vivas says the set-up is home-from-home: “UK students understand the academic tradition; we’re organised into residential colleges and academic schools. Because of that, they settle in easily.”

Another important consideration is money. German postgraduates incur tuition fees as well as enrolment fees, but overall the costs are usually less than those in the UK. Enrolment is around €50, and that may include a “Semesterticket” for free public transport. Fees vary. Back in the UK, a home student undertaking postgraduate study at a state-funded university typically pays £3,000 to £6,000 a year. Compare that with Mannheim University, where Masters programmes cost €1,000 a year and PhD students get a 100 per cent grant that covers all fees. Private universities often set higher fees. At Jacobs, postgraduate programmes are around €20,000 a year – but Vivas says few students pay: “PhD programmes are usually funded, and that will cover fees. Among Masters students, some are fee-paying, some are covered by scholarships from Jacobs, and there’s some research funding available too.”

When it comes to MBAs, UK courses cost between £18,000 and £45,000. At MBS, which has been named Best German Business School by the Wirtschaftswoche / Handelsblatt Publishing Group for the last nine years, a full-time MBA costs €29,000. And remember that the DAAD grants can cover both fees and living costs. “Everything is probably 20 per cent cheaper here than in the UK,” he says.

Carerras is impressed by the academic standards too. “I can’t think of a single example where the quality of teaching I’ve experienced at Paderborn isn’t better than it was in the UK,” he says. “They have higher expectations – it’s about thinking outside the box. The groups have 30 students maximum, and everyone is encouraged to participate.

There are people here from all over Europe, which brings a different dimension. You’re also always taught by professors, whereas in the UK it’s often PhD students working with Masters students. You get a lot more time with those tutors, and the ratio of tutors to students is much better.”

Bürkle says it’s a similar picture at Mannheim: “The marketing department, for example, has four chaired professors, each with different specialisms, andone junior professor. That ensures all students get targeted teaching and expertise, whatever their interest.” At Jacobs, there are 100 professors for 1,200 students, and the university’s state-of-the-art facilities are available “with very low impact, because there are so few students using it,” says Vivas.

Another feature of German universities is their emphasis on employability. “You’re encouraged to do work experience, and pretty much any company will take you,” says Carreras. “The profession links are really good,” agrees Lee. “My university introduced us to professionals, linked up with relevant organisations, and encouraged us to do exhibitions.” Postgraduates should leave German universities in a strong position, says Bürkle. “Germany wasn’t as affected by the financial crisis as other areas of the world, so the economy recovered fast. With a good education and English as a mother tongue, you can find a very good job here.”

For Lee, moving to Germany was the right choice. “In the UK, we don’t think about studying abroad enough. In the rest of Europe, 14-year-olds are doing six-month stints at schools in other countries. I didn’t even know you could do that!” She adds: “It’s more than what you gain academically. I’m learning a new language, a new culture, and I’m being pushed on to new things.”

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Trainee Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Trainee Sales Executive is re...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer - Peterborough - £18,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Cambridgeshire - £23,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Front-End Develo...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn