By IELTS Expert

30 November 2022 - 12:13

A guy carrying a backpack walks on the streets of Berlin

In this article, you’ll find out how you can benefit from studying in Germany, what you need to study there, and why IELTS is the right test for proving your English ability:

Home to some of the best universities in the world, Germany is fast emerging as a top study destination. Internationals studying in Germany now make up nearly 15% of their total student population.  

There are many benefits of studying in Germany, which explains why their educational institutions draw students from every corner of the globe.  

Studying in Germany 

If you’re considering Germany as a place to study, know that the place has a lot going for it: top-ranked educational institutions, highly qualified teaching faculty, limitless course options, relatively low cost of living, a dynamic lifestyle that is a blend of the modern and the traditional, excellent amenities. Naturally, you wouldn’t expect such a country to offer free education, especially to foreign nationals, would you?   

As astonishing as this might sound, it is true that almost all students enrolled at any of the public universities get to study in Germany for free! The only exceptions are specialist courses that might entail a tuition fee. With about 240 public universities located across the country, you will certainly be able to find a course that suits you.  

Universities of applied sciences, or vocational universities, are also becoming increasingly popular among international students. Excellent teaching coupled with hands-on experience is what such places offer. Vocational universities tend to have close ties with regional and international companies. A qualification from one of these institutions will enhance your employment prospects as you will have experience of working in Germany. 

If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry. Universities usually offer part-time jobs, enabling you to earn a little extra money. Besides, as a student in Germany, you’ll get discounts on tickets to the cinema, museums, theatres, restaurants, and other cultural institutions. If you’re studying in Germany, you also get discounted rates on public transport. 

Lastly, beyond education, living in Germany allows you to enjoy places of natural beauty and unique cultural experiences. The country is steeped in history, so you will have endless opportunities to travel and explore.  

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The costs involved 

As you already know, since 2014 German and international students have been able to study for free at any of the public universities in the country. 

However, to study in Germany there are other costs that you will need to consider: 

Semester fee 

This amount, payable every six months, is around €300. Since your university will not charge you a tuition fee, this is seen as your semester contribution towards meeting administrative expenses. 

Registration fee 

If you are a non-European Union national, then you’ll have to pay this fee, which is usually in the region of €1,400

Student application processing fee 

Some universities charge a fee for processing your application. The cost for this is generally about €75. 

Requirements for studying in Germany 

Like in other European countries, there are requirements to study in Germany for international students. You’ll also need to meet a set of requirements at the time of applying for your student visa.  

Acceptance letter 

To apply for a German student visa, you must have an acceptance letter from the university where you intend to study. 

Certified copies of passport 

It would be a good idea to keep some certified copies of your passport ready, because you will need them at various stages – for instance, while enrolling at a university or while applying for a student visa. 

Visa and/or residence permit 

Make sure that you have the appropriate visa and/or residence permit for living in Germany. This will prevent you from getting into trouble with immigration authorities. 

Proof of financial resources 

Although Germany is relatively inexpensive compared to many other European countries, you’ll still need to provide proof of financial resources at the time of applying for a visa. It is important to be able to prove that you can meet costs during your stay in the country. Accepted forms of proof include proof of parental income, transferring a specific amount of money into a blocked account, or proof of receipt of scholarship.   

Health insurance  

As a foreigner, you must have a university health insurance policy that meets all the requirements laid down by the institution. Without health insurance, you will not be able to enrol at any German educational institution, so it’s something you may want to sort out early on. Your insurance generally covers the costs of check-ups, treatment for illnesses, treatment after an accident and some types of medication. General costs for hospital stays are also covered.  

Proof of language proficiency for studying in Germany 

Your level of German or English must be higher than B2 or C1 respectively, depending on the institution you want to enrol at and the course you intend to study. 


You must present all the documents required by your educational institution in the original language. They must also be certified and translated into German. Do remember that only officially certified copies and translations are accepted for the application process. 

Registration form 

You must submit a completed applicant registration form in German to your chosen educational institution.

Language requirements   

One of the things you need to do in order to be able to live in Germany is to demonstrate that you can speak German or that you have an acceptable level of English. If your German isn’t that good, you would be relieved to know that the vast majority of programmes at German educational institutions are taught in English.  

The chances are you’ll be asked for proof of language proficiency at the time of applying to your chosen university. While you won’t be expected to be a proficient user of English, you will have to prove that you have sufficient English ability to complete your course of study successfully. 

More than 55% of the population in Germany speak English. Even though German is the official language, English is the most common foreign language spoken in the country. Good English skills will, therefore, help you with everyday communication and enable you to comfortably live and study in Germany. 

Many of the academic programmes are also taught in English because of the large proportions of foreign students at those institutions. Remember, each German educational institution sets its own English language requirement for international students to be accepted on their courses. It’s important that you find out at the time of registration what English language test you need to take and the level of English that you’re expected to have. 

Broadly speaking, most educational institutions and/or employers expect your English level to be between upper intermediate and advanced. This would be equivalent to levels B2 and C1 on the scale of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The IELTS test

Sitting the IELTS test for Germany is a great option since it is the world's most widely accepted English language test for study, work and migration. The test is recognised by over 12,000 organisations worldwide, including educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies. There is no doubt that a good IELTS score will help you move one step closer to fulfilling your dream of living and studying in Germany.  

It’s worth remembering at this point that preparing for your test is an important part of the whole process. The British Council has developed a range of free IELTS study materials and resources to help you improve your English skills. See to it that you make the most of the preparation materials available on our website so you achieve the best possible scores in your test.  

Final thoughts 

If a limited budget is getting in the way of you fulfilling your dream of studying in Germany, the obvious answer is to apply to a public university. With no hefty tuition fee to pay, you will find it much easier to fund your studies.   

Whether you want to study or work in Germany, Take the IELTS test for Germany with the British Council and live the life you’ve always wanted to.

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