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Germany offers overseas students juicy incentives

Published on Friday, 27 Apr 2012
Hong Kong students in Trier, southwest Germany.
Photo: DAAD
Dr Sylvia Brandt
Photo: DAAD

When considering overseas tertiary education, many Hong Kong students overlook studying in Germany, where internationally recognised higher education is inexpensive compared with many other destinations.

“People are often surprised to find that higher education for overseas students is generally free in Germany, as it is for locals,” says Dr Sylvia Brandt, director of the DAAD Information Centre Hong Kong and Macau.

She says that in Germany, there is a strong conviction that education – including masters and PhD studies – should be available to all, regardless of financial status. Top students can also expect good funding possibilities, such as grants and scholarships, for PhD and research in Germany.

As a result, students can choose a programme that matches their individual needs, often at a fraction of the cost of studying elsewhere.

Brandt adds that the study environment tends to be liberal and encourages the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Students studying in Germany have access to affordable travel and the opportunity to explore the cultural diversity of Europe.

“An important part of our message is to inform Hong Kong students looking for high-level academic programmes that Germany is an excellent study and research destination,” says Brandt, adding that German universities look for high- calibre students and that application standards are similar to applying to a Hong Kong university.

Also known as German Academic Exchange Service, the DAAD is an independent partnership of German higher education institutions that encourages international students and researchers to study in Germany.

“Our economy is built on knowledge and technology. Therefore, through making education affordable for all, including attracting top international students and researchers, the process is in place to build a network for the future,” says Brandt, adding that, as China’s largest single European trading partner, German companies seek German-educated, Chinese-speaking staff to work both in Europe and Asia.

According to Brandt, German higher education institutions enjoy an excellent reputation across the globe. German degrees also carry prestige, while teaching and research provide key drivers for innovation and progress. For example, Germany has a high demand for engineers and scientists. The need for environmental solutions, both in Germany and internationally, is also fuelling demand for graduates from top universities.

Brandt says Hong Kong students should not worry about the language requirements. “Those studying in Germany or learning the language before they go to study manage very well,” she says.

International degree programmes have varying German requirements. Some undergraduate programmes are in English, but many expect applicants to have better-than-average knowledge of German, which can be acquired rather quickly, Brandt says.

Entering an undergraduate course that is taught in German requires at least one year of intensive language learning, while international postgraduate masters and PhD programmes often do not require any German at all, but will give students a chance to learn the language alongside their studies, Brandt adds.

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