Studying abroad has become not only a way to get to know other cultures and people from everywhere in the world, but it also looks good on your CV. Universities in Great Britain enjoy an excellent reputation all over the globe, and their international character is undisputed. Approximately 10 percent of the bachelor students studying in Great Britain come from other countries, and we can count even more international students when it comes to master courses and similar advanced study programs. If British students decide to study in Germany, it is often Germany’s outstanding reputation in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that attracts them. Not least because of Germany’s proximity to Great Britain do many students decide to study abroad. However, there are some differences between studying in the UK and Germany.
1. Tuition Fees
If you want to study in Germany, you currently don’t have to pay tuition fees. The fees have been abolished in 2014 for all undergraduate students. This applies to domestic and international students. (Only one federal state, Baden-Württemberg, has reintroduced a fee for students from non-EU countries, which costs € 1,500 per semester). However, you always need to pay a small fee covering administration costs, which usually also includes a ticket for public transport in the respective city, which is a pretty good deal. (I have to pay ~ € 160 for one semester, which means 6 months).
In Great Britain, the tuition fees depend on the university’s reputation and location, but also if the university is private or public. The subject you are studying also plays a crucial role. Because of Brexit, tuition fees have become considerably higher for German students studying in the UK. Depending on your subject, you should expect at least £ 10,000 per academic year. However, the fees can go up to £ 38,000, depending on how cost-intensive your subject is. (For instance, medical students pay considerably more).
2. Living Costs
Generally, the costs of living in the UK are a little higher than in Germany. However, this depends on the city you are studying in. In Germany, for instance, it makes a big difference whether you are studying in Munich – with very high prices for housing, or in Berlin, where you have moderate rents. This also applies to the UK, where studies in London are much more expensive than in a more remote area. In total, public transport, restaurants, hotels, alcohol, and groceries are a bit cheaper in Germany than in the UK.
3. Semester Terms
German universities run two semesters per year, the “Wintersemester” and “Sommersemester”. The start and end terms usually depend on the university. The Wintersemester often starts in October and ends in March, with lectures starting in the middle of October and lasting about 14 weeks. There is a two-week break for Christmas and New Year. The Sommersemester often starts in April and ends in September, and the lectures usually last 12 weeks. The exams are often scheduled during the last week of the lectures. You may notice that there are two quite long lecture-free periods in winter and summer, which can be used for writing term papers, making internships, working, or going on holiday. Universities of Applied Sciences, so-called ”Fachhochschulen” usually start their semesters one month earlier than other universities.
In the UK, the specific timetables vary according to the university you are studying at. However, it is often the case that most academic years start in late September or early October and end in June or July. There are two or three-week breaks during Easter and Christmas, dividing the academic year into three terms. Some universities in the UK use special names for the three terms, which differ from autumn, spring, and summer. Cambridge University, for instance, uses the terms Michaelmas, Lent, and Easter, and Oxford University calls them Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity.
4. Class Size in Universities
One of the perks of studying in the UK is definitely the staff-to-student ratio at universities. Many students say that in the UK, professors are a lot more approachable than in Germany. Therefore, they can respond better to the different needs of the students, and the classes are often considerably smaller than in Germany. While there are smaller groups in Germany when it comes to advanced courses, it is often the case that a more general subject, such as a mathematics basic course, (which is compulsory for several studies) is sometimes held with several hundred students.
5. Renting a Student Apartment
When you are studying in Germany, you usually rent your apartment for the whole duration of your studies. Only if you decide to spend some time abroad is it common to sublet it. This is a bit different in the UK. The big summer break is often used to visit family and friends back home. However, it is frequently the case that landlords and university halls want you to remove all your possessions during the break. Taking all your stuff home can be difficult and expensive, as many students’ universities are far away from home or even in another country. If you don’t know anyone with a big apartment or a house who can store your items during the summer break, you can use student storage companies which store your items while you’re not there. They deliver boxes to your apartment, and you can fill them with your items. Then, they pick them up and store them until you come back and deliver the boxes back to your place.