How free is higher education in Germany?

Published by Afterschool.my on Nov 04, 2016, 03:41 pm

Malaysians are being encouraged to pursue education in German universities as it is known for quality and for being free.

How free is higher education in Germany?

While many countries around the world have either increased their tuition fees or are planning to hike the cost of higher education, Germany is committed to providing free higher education in their public universities even for international students.

It is free because that’s the way the people of Germany want it to be. German politicians have tried to leech of off public universities and get students to pay. However, the German high court reversed a number of laws and rejected amendments to do such a thing. The court in 2005 passed a law that bans tuition fees. Some state universities, on the other hand, did have 'tuition fees' but these fees were unbelievable. In some public universities students paid about €500 Euros per semester.

By the end of 2014, all universities have reversed their policies and removed tuition in accordance with the court orders. Bear in mind, postgraduate students in some programmes may still have to pay tuitions. But these tuition are minimal and will certainly not overwhelm students.

Another factor is that there is as much as 39.5% in taxes and social security contributions annually from every working adult in Germany. But these taxes don't solely contribute to education. They contribute to social welfare, healthcare programmes, and many other areas in the public service.

In spite of the success of free education where students have equal opportunities regardless of their economic status, there is a fierce criticism from other countries and even within Germany about it. Corporate interests are hoping to monetise on education. However, higher education in Germany is going stronger because the outcomes of research and academia in the country is contributing to  economic growth. Many universities rank in the top 100 best universities in the world. Germany produces fascinating research and amazing technologies. German higher education, whether one agrees with its methods or not, is a successful experience that is expected to continue for a long time.

Cost of living in Germany

To put it simply, cost of living in Germany is mandated to be in line with the cost of living across countries of the European Union. It costs about symbol 800 Euros a month.

What does s800 Euros do for students? A simplified breakdown works out to:

  • Rent and utilities: €298
  • Food and drinks: €165
  • Clothing: €52
  • Learning materials: €30
  • Car and public transportation: €82
  • Health insurance, medical costs, medicine: €66
  • Telephone, internet, TV: €33
  • Recreation, culture, sports: €68

794 Euros or RM3666 a month

What's it like to live in Germany?

Living in Germany is good. However, depending on the city, the experience may vary. There are certain things students will experience all around Germany. For instance, climate in Germany comes in 4 seasons with a significant lean to cooler climate.


In winter, temperatures can plummet to as low as -10° degrees Celsius in certain areas. Average temperatures in most parts of Germany are between 0° degrees to 10° degrees Celsius. Snow is a very common scene in Germany and the countries surrounding it.

Summer, on the other hand, temperatures peak to 22° degrees Celsius in most parts. This is a very similar climate to Genting Highland, Cameron Highland, Mount Kinabalu region and other highlands in Malaysia.

There are a lot of things to enjoy in Germany besides the weather and quality education. Germany is full of breath-taking landscapes and a very different natural wonders. Additionally, historical places are abundant.

Other parts of life like shopping and nightlife is pretty similar to that in Malaysia. There are malls and farmers markets in many places. One thing that makes the experience in Germany so different is fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and so much more. Living healthy in Germany is very possible and certainly cheaper.

There are more than 115,000 international students in Germany. Most of these students come from China, Russia, Austria, Bulgaria, Poland, France, India and more than 10 other countries. However, the community of Malaysian students in Germany is still significantly small. There are approximately a little over 600 Malaysians studying in German universities.


anti immigration germany

While Germany is a relatively progressive country, it does have discrimination and racial bias. This issue has always existed in Germany – and other parts of Europe - and have taken many forms over the years. However, in recent years, increasing migration patterns from countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asian have played an major role in the escalation of the situation.

The anti-immigration rhetoric is gaining more ground for various reasons. The far and ultra-right in Germany continues to advocate for nationalism and resentment of foreigners. However, certain groups face more resentment than other groups. Many Germans feel that their government is risking the cultural values of the country. Many people there think that foreigners in Germany are increasing the influence of "unwanted/undesirable" external parties.

While some of these concerns seem to be validated, other sentiments are just plainly driven by nationalistic mind-set of right wing politics.

One of the most important aspects is the adaptability to the German lifestyle and mutual respect.

The German experience

german experience

In Germany , students can get a great education, gain great experience, learn from various cultures, be influenced by an environment that appreciates hardwork, honesty and transparency. If someone is thinking about studying in Germany, that person can and will be able to get a place to study in a public university. The only thing that this person has to consider is the academic qualification. If one is learning the language, that would be an added bonus

It is highly recommended that students have mutual respect and be open minded, it is just part and parcel of living and studying in another country.

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