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Study and Work Opportunities in Germany for International Student

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What are the possibilities to study and work in Germany? How do I get there? Where do I live? What will I find on my way? How can I finance my stay in Germany? How much does it cost? These are some of the questions international students frequently ask when considering furthering their academic studies in Germany. However, these questions will be answered in this article where we take you step by step on your way to your personal study and work opportunities in Germany.

Study and Work Opportunities in Germany for International Students

A multitude of opportunities to study and work in Germany exist, and there are many reasons why you might want to do so. Germany has one of the best economies in the world, and it has one of the lowest unemployment rates of all OECD countries. In fact, about half of the German workforce are freelancers, making it an excellent place to work if you’re an entrepreneur looking to live and work abroad. If you’re interested in studying or working in Germany, it can be difficult to figure out where to start – that’s why we’ve put together this guide to study and work opportunities in Germany.

Study and Work Opportunities in Germany for International Students

Germany is widely known for its high-quality education and world-renowned universities, so it is no surprise that it is a top study destination for international students. Although German public universities do not charge tuition fees, students are however charged an administration fee per semester. The fee ranges from 100 to 500 EUR per semester. Interestingly, international students can work a part-time job while they study in Germany for 20 hours a week when school is in session and even more hours during breaks.

The education system in Germany is among the best in the world, and it offers unique opportunities to international students. There are opportunities to study and work in Germany, but they vary depending on your country of origin and your qualifications. Students from Iceland, European Union, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland even are granted special privileges. For example, they can work for more than 20 hours a week and qualify for insurance.

Study Opportunities for International Students

Germany has long been a popular destination for students, due to its strong economy and the relatively high quality of higher education. Germany is widely known for its high-quality education and world-renowned universities. So it is no surprise that it is a top study destination for international students.

In fact, more than 150,000 international students study in Germany every year – and that number continues to rise as more foreigners come to appreciate the opportunities that Germany has to offer. All German public universities except for the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg offer free tuition for tertiary education to all students including international students, applicable to mainly all bachelor’s and selected Master’s degree programs.

International students can study in German public universities for free. Only private universities charge tuition fees in Germany. Moreover, when compared to other study destinations outside of Europe, living in Germany as an international student comes at a lower cost. But you will need to possess skills in financial management while living in a foreign country.

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that living costs in Germany are around €853 per month. Which can be a challenge for international students. However, there are programs that offer international students the opportunity to apply for financial support in the form of a scholarship. Below is a list of top scholarships in Germany for international students.

1. DAAD Scholarship Programs

DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) or the German Academic Exchange Service is a joint organization of Germany’s higher education institutions, responsible for promoting international academic relations. Moreover, DAAD Scholarships focus on the exchange of students, academics, and researchers by offering scholarships and funding to foreign students, graduate students, and scientists in Germany.

2. Heinrich Böll Foundation Scholarships in Germany

The Heinrich Böll Foundation awards approximately 1,200 scholarships a year to ambitious undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students of all subjects and nationalities. These students should be pursuing their degrees at state or state-recognized universities in Germany. Scholarship receipts are expected to have outstanding academic records and be politically and socially engaged while showing an interest in values like ecology, sustainability, democracy, human rights, self-determination as well as justice.

3. DeutschlandStipendium National Scholarship Program

The Deutschlandstipendium offers financial support to ambitious and academically outstanding students from all corners of the world. It supports students at all participating universities in Germany without taking into consideration someone’s nationality, personal or parent income. The scholarship is made possible through a public-private collaboration where businesses, foundations, or individuals sponsor students with a sum of 150€ per month while the Federal Government adds another 150€ to that amount. This scholarship is awarded by the universities, meaning applicants are required to meet the requirements of individual institutions.

4. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Scholarships in Germany for International Students

Students with above-average academic achievements with a keen interest in politics are eligible to apply for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Scholarship. This scholarship program aims to promote foreign students and doctoral candidates who have successfully completed their undergraduate studies in their home country. This scholarship is available for students wanting to complete a postgraduate, doctorate, or research program. Priority will be given to students of Ph.D. candidates from developing countries or countries that are going through a political transformation.


5. Erasmus Scholarship Programs in Germany

Erasmus is also a wise choice for international students aiming to participate in a full-time study program in Germany. As an EU-wide grant funded by the member states of the European Union, Erasmus offers financial assistance for one-year exchange periods for international students at universities in Germany. In order for you to get the scholarship to Germany, you should be enrolled at a higher education institution and both your home university as well as the German university must have signed the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education.

Meanwhile, most of the major universities in the EU participate in the Erasmus scheme, with German universities participating in numerous study programs funded by Erasmus Mundus and Erasmus+ scholarships. The grants will cover the enrollment, travel, as well as basic living costs.

6. The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Scholarship

Another option is the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung scholarship, which seeks to promote social democracy through academic financial assistance. The scholarship is available for foreign applicants who are studying or doing their doctorate in Germany at a state or state-recognized university of applied sciences. These students are expected to have above-average academic achievements. This is a good option for those in the fields of social sciences, politics, or humanities.

Work Opportunities for International Students in Germany

There are many ways for international students in Germany to earn money while they study, but there are some restrictions. Not every student is treated equally when it comes to part-time work rules and regulations in Germany.

Rules for students

Students from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland enjoy unrestricted access to the German labor market and have practically the same rights as German students. However, if they work more than 20 hours per week they must pay certain insurance contributions (just like German students).

On the other hand, for students from other countries, special legal regulations apply:

  • International students from other countries are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days per year. They are not allowed to be self-employed or work as freelancers.
  • Students who want to work more need permission from the Agentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) and the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners’ office). Whether they are given permission depends on the situation in the labor market. The chances are better in regions with low unemployment.

An exception is working as an academic assistant. There is no limit to how many days academic assistants may work. They still have to inform the foreigners’ office, however. If you are uncertain what category a job falls into. Then, you should seek advice from student services or the International Office.

Searching for a Job in Germany as an International Student

Many universities and student union websites have job exchanges. Universities post job offers on the blackboards that you will find in the hallways, and the jobs can be within the university or at various local organizations and companies. Some students work as academic assistants at their universities. They may for example supervise the library, lead tutorials, or research literature for professors. Academic assistant jobs are a good addition to a degree program. If you are interested in one of these jobs, you should ask about vacancies at the administrative office of your institute. And keep an eye on the notice boards at your higher education institution.

If you want to expand your search beyond the university, you can try the Federal Employment Agency, or the ‘Studentenwerk’ services, which are job agencies that are run by students themselves. All major university centers have their own ‘Studentenwerk‘ websites where job vacancies are listed. The regional offices of the Federal Employment Agency often have a job exchange for students.

How Much You Can Earn While Working as an International Student

Germany introduced a minimum wage in 2015. Since January 2022 it stands at 9.82 EUR per hour. How much you can earn however depends heavily on your skills, the industry in which you are working, and the regional labor market. However, there are plans to increase the minimum wage in Germany to 12 EUR in October 2022.

What Job Opportunities Are Available for International Students?

There is a wide range of industries international students may choose to work part-time from in Germany. The main types of work available for students in Germany to get professional experience are:

  • Part-time jobs
  • Summer or winter vacation jobs
  • Internships
  • Volunteering
  • Traineeships

However, most students prefer taking part-time jobs. The most popular part-time jobs in Germany include:

  • Research assistant at the university
  • Office assistant
  • Language tutor
  • Support staff/waiters at cafés/bars
  • Retail store shopping assistant
  • Babysitting
  • Call center officer
  • Field interviewer
  • Home delivery, and more.

Final Thoughts on Study and Work Opportunities in Germany

In conclusion, do not work so many hours that it affects your studies and you end up graduating later than your peers. You can find a number of jobs in Germany. But it will be best to find the one related to your field. So that you don’t have to put extra effort while keeping your concentration on your studies. Additionally, it will also help you with adding credits to your courses.

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