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Germany – Country in the heart of Europe

Have you ever thought of spending your university years in a country in the heart of Europe? If that is the case, this is the right place to get preliminary information and assistance in order to plan your studies in Germany.

Germany is a federal parliamentary democracy consisting of 16 federal states. It has a general population of approximately 82.5 million people, occupying an area of 357,092 km². Thus, Germany is considered a quite densely populated country. Approximately 63% of all Germans are Christians (Catholics and Protestants), approximately 4% are Muslims and 0.2% Jews.

With lowlands and two oceans - the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, low mountain ranges and highlands in the south - the Alps, the natural scenery of Germany shows an exiting diversity. The natural seasons and the diverse flora and fauna are characterised by a predominantly agreeable and temperate climate. Standard time is Central European Time, which means that there is summer and winter time.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and the seat of the Bundestag (the Federal Parliament) and the Bundesregierung (the Federal Government). With its approximately 3.34 million inhabitants – of whom 13.9% are foreigners – Berlin is a vibrant city of science and culture. The cultural life of Berlin is attractive, colourful and diverse. A prolific array of choices concerning theatre, music, art and literature leaves no wish unfulfilled.

Germany has numerous tourist attractions and regions on offer that will ensure that your stay will never become boring. There are no limitations to your individual exploration of the various regions. Depending on your preference you can get to know Germany by bicycle, by train, by boat or by car. An extensive infrastructure makes all this possible. Should you wish to minimise your expenses whilst travelling, you can choose from among a great variety of German youth hostels which provide travellers with great opportunities to meet other young people in informal surroundings and to gain cross-cultural experience.

The German University System

The German university scene is very diverse. As science and research are deeply embedded in German society, we look back on a university tradition that grew over centuries.

The German university system comprises universities, colleges, polytechnics and art colleges. Right now, there are about 349 universities, polytechnics and colleges in Germany, with approximately two million students enrolled. A wide spectrum of major subjects and courses allows everyone interested to find a place at a German university, college or polytechnic. The academic year is divided into a summer and a winter semester. Usually no lecture courses are held in March and September, but at some departments or faculties examinations will take place during those two months.

In Germany, education is a matter of the individual states, which means that each state can come to independent decisions concerning universities, colleges and polytechnics. Some states have already introduced student tuition fees. However, as the debate is still going on in many states, please make sure that you are informed about the current situation at your place of study before applying. For an overview of German tuition fees please have a look at the following website.

General Conditions For Studying in Germany

Studying in Germany has to be financed for the most part by the students themselves. On average, studying requires approximately 640 Euros per month. With regard to the new states in the eastern part of Germany that monthly sum is significantly below the federal average. Many students have sideline jobs in order to finance their studies. However, there are also financial aid systems such as the Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz (BAföG) - a federal interest-free loan or grants or stipends students can apply for. International students do only have access to financial aid through grants provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or by the respective universities. Please apply approximately six months in advance.

A fixed expenditure that has to be taken into account is the semester fee, due each semester. The semester fee is a prerequisite for matriculation at a German institute of higher education and varies from university to university. You will be informed by your university about the respective amount. It may include the costs for a semester ticket valid for the public transport system of the university town in question. Moreover, the semester fee helps support the services provided by the Studentenwerk and the student counsel bodies. The Studentenwerk Dresden uses that additional money for the university catering services as well as for cultural and social purposes. Further relevant information concerning financing a study stay in Germany and living as international student in Germany can be obtained at the respective Studentenwerk.

Besides deciding on a university and a major subject you should know who will help you find accommodation, provides you with affordable meals and gives advice in case of personal problems. You can be sure that you will no be left alone. The student unions offer comprehensive services as far as extracurricular issues are concerned. Their primary tasks are to ensure accommodation and catering for students, to guarantee financial aid, to provide student counselling services, and last but not least to promote cultural activities. On a federal level, the parent organisation of all German student unions, the Deutsche Studentenwerk e.V. looks after the interests of the local students unions. On a local university level, students are taken care of by the responsible student union on the respective place of study.

Saxony – Traditional and Innovative Base for Academic, Research and Scientific Activity

A decision for studying in Saxony is a great choice in many respects. The Free State of Saxony borders on Poland, the Czech Republic and the German federal states of Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Saxony has an area of 18,414.82 km² and approximately 4.3 million inhabitants.

Culture, science and economic activity were and still are hallmarks of this region. Saxony has a unique cultural landscape that charmingly reflects the interplay of tradition and innovation. During the past few centuries Saxony developed into one of the most densely populated cultural regions of Germany. At the same time science and research grew firm roots in Saxony.

Apart from universities, polytechnics, colleges of higher education and a technical academy, Saxony possesses quite a few independent research institutions and facilities. To name just a few of the most illustrious institutes: the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibnitz-Institute, the Fraunhofer-Institute and the Max-Planck-Institute. Saxony is one of the most productive and sophisticated science and technology agglomerations in Germany. Focal points in research are micro-electronics and nanotechnology, mechanical engineering, materials science, biotechnology, neuroscience, medical technology and environmental research. Expressions such as ”Silicon Saxony“ and ”Bio Saxony“ have become signature features of the region.

In the past few years, major companies such as the car manufacturers BMW, VW and Porsche, the microprocessor manufacturer AMD and the chip producer Infineon have successfully established themselves in Saxony. These companies offer good perspectives to students, during as well as after their studies. Due to the cooperation between industry and the Saxon universities the innovation activity in the individual branches of industry is increasing. As a consequence, the leading position as a technology stronghold is substantially influenced by the productive and sophisticated Saxon university and research scene and their qualified workforce. In that respect, the transfer of technology between university and industry is a major location advantage of Saxony.

With its exceptionally exciting cultural life Saxony is a federal state where life is worth living. The natural scenery of Saxony consists of flatland, hilly countryside and low mountain ranges. The Erzgebirge, Swiss Saxony and the Vogtland are worthwhile visiting all the year round. Apart from hiking and biking on an extended network of roads, there are unique opportunities for rock-climbing in one of the most beautiful national parks of Germany, the national park Swiss Saxony. There is also a splendid array of castles and palaces, perfectly in harmony with the geographical setting. The modern history of Saxony was a time of upheaval. The Free State of Saxony was founded in 1918 as a consequence of the dissolution of the Kingdom of Saxony. It existed until 1945 when Saxony became part of the Soviet Occupation Zone. During the period of the German Democratic Republic, the old territorial boundaries of Saxony were changed; there was a new subdivision in municipalities and districts. After the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic the Free State of Saxony re-emerged as one of the federal states of Germany in 1990.

German is the official language, but as in every German a great variety of regional dialects can be heard. In Saxony diverse variants of the Saxon dialect are spoken. In the Lusatian region around 60,000 Sorbs speak Sorb, a language belonging to the West-Slavic language group.

In Saxony all major religious denominations are represented with the Lutheran-Protestant Church having a much larger congregation than the Roman Catholic Church; furthermore, there are Free Churches as well as Jewish and Muslim congregations.

Coming to Saxony – be it as tourist, student or scientist – is worthwhile in any case. Right now approximately 100,000 students are already taking their studies in Saxony - with good reason! The universities, colleges and polytechnics of Saxony are located in Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Zwickau, Freiberg, Mittweida, Zittau and Görlitz. A rich tradition blends organically with new trends. Generations of scientists, technicians, engineers, scientists in the fields of the humanities and social sciences, medical professionals and artists have established the good reputation of the international recognized Saxon universities, colleges and polytechnics. Saxony creates and develops the prerequisites and conditions for its high quality university education. This high standard is ensured by maintaining a manifold variety of major subjects and courses, modern areas of research, practice-oriented training, short duration of study, and a good all-round situation of supervision, especially in the field of physics and engineering.

The Office of Residential Life at Dresden, responsible for seven universities, colleges and polytechnics in Dresden and two in Zittau/Görlitz provides students with a comprehensive service. Likewise, the other three Saxon student unions (Leipzig, Chemnitz/Zwickau and Freiberg/Mittweida) offer the same service in their region, thus, encouraging many prospective students to study in Saxony.

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