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Frequently Asked Questions


What academic qualification do I need in order to be eligible to apply at a German university?

The main admission requirement to enter German general or technical universities (Universitäten / Technische Hochschulen) is a school leaving certificate equivalent of the German school leaving certificate 'Abitur'. The Singaporean GCE-‘A’-Levels and the IB fulfill this requirement. With these certificate you can apply directly to university.

The Polytechnic Diploma, on the other hand, is unfortunately not considered equivalent, as it is not as broad-based. Thus, Polytechnic Diploma holders from Singapore can apply to the so-called Fachhochschulen (FH) (also known as Universities of Applied Sciences) only, which have a more practical, hands-on, application-focused approach than the general or technical universities. However, they will first need to pass a so-called assessment test (Feststellungsprüfung), set individually by the universities, before they can be admitted. This test can be taken after completion of a one-year foundation course in Germany.

For more detailed information, please refer to ‘Types of Universities’ and ‘Admission Requirements’ in the ‘Study’ section.

 


I have just completed my GCE ‘O’-Levels. Do I qualify for admission to a German university?
No. You will first need to obtain a polytechnic diploma resp. sit for the GCE ‘A’-Levels or the International Baccalaureate, before you can apply for admission to a German university. There are no bridging or foundation courses for GCE-‘O’-Levels holders.

 


Is a German ‘Diplom’ the same as a polytechnic diploma?
No, it is not! In the traditional German degree system, there is no division into undergraduate and graduate studies: basically, all students pursue a direct Master degree - there is no Bachelor equivalent!

That is why German graduates used to be a little older than their European or overseas counterparts – they usually studied for at least five to six years. However, this German Master equivalent does not go by the name of 'Master': for the majority of degree courses, it is called 'Diplom'. This is often confusing for Singaporeans, as they automatically assume the German Diplom to be nothing more than a Polytechnic Diploma and thus not even a degree! No, a Diplom is a Master's equivalent! (In the humanities, the German Master's equivalent is called a Magister, by the way, and in subjects such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law and teaching it is called Staatsexamen). These traditional German degree courses - that used to constitute the majority of all university courses - are taught in German exclusively. To qualify for admission, students will need to pass the so-called DSH German language proficiency exam that requires roughly 1000 hours of German, which translates into 10 to 12 months of intensive German classes, if studied from scratch.

The Diplom degree courses have now been largely replaced with the Anglo-Saxon degree structure of Bachelor and Master in most disciplines and most German universities.

 


What is meant by ‘international degree courses’?

In the course of internationalizing the German higher education system, recent years have seen the introduction of International Degree Programmes (Bachelor, Master, PhD courses) that use English as the medium of instruction. Please note that there is no difference in terms of accademic rigour or quality between German taught or English taught degree programmes!

For international degree programmes, knowledge of German is not usually an admission requirement, but of course a basic working knowledge of the language will help prospective students 'survive' in the German-speaking off-campus environment. However, sound knowledge of English is indispensable, and thus a TOEFL test result (or a similar proof of English language proficiency) needs to be submitted together with the application form. Singaporean students are often exempted from this requirement.

Some international degree courses use both English and German as medium of instruction; if this is the case, the level of German required is usually less demanding than for the German-only courses.
A comprehensive list of international degree programmes can be found under www.daad.de/idp, while www.study-in-germany.de also lists traditional German degree courses.

 


Do German universities offer summer courses?
Yes, many of Germany's universities offer summer courses lasting up to several weeks, which not only teach you German but also give you a real insight into Germany in all its diversity. Often you have a choice between German and English as the language of instruction. A web-based database makes it easier to find the right course: http://www.summerschools-in-germany.de

 


How do I go about applying to a German university?
Please refer to the detailed information on ‘Application’ in the ‘Study’ section.

 

 


I am intending to pursue a Master degree at a German university. Am I eligible to apply for a DAAD scholarship?
As tuition fees are very moderate at public universities, scholarships are rare and hard to come by.
To find out on your individual funding options, please consult the scholarship database on www.funding-guide.de

The DAAD runs several scholarship programmes for Singaporean nationals for doctoral candidates, post-docs and university academics.
For more information on DAAD scholarships, please click here.

 


Is my German degree going to be recognized in Singapore?

There is unfortunately no such thing as global recognition of degrees. Each country has its own regulation of recognizing overseas degrees. In Singapore, there is no central authority that accredits foreign degrees, instead it is left up to the employer to hire the person or not. However, there are a number of professional boards (eg. Professional Engineers' Board, Board of Architects, Singapore Medical Council) that each have a list of overseas universities, whose degrees they have accredited and recognize as equivalent to the Singapore ones. Please check with them, if in doubt.

 


Which is the best German university?
There is no one best university and neither are there any official ranking lists of German universities (i.e. conducted by the government or Ministries of Education) The differences in terms of quality between German universities are much less pronounced than in other countries. Differences result mainly from specialization, research collaborations and contacts etc., which are less linked to a university as such but rather to individual faculties. Thus, within one university, some faculties may have top international standing, while others are less prominent. The quality of courses is controlled by independent academic bodies, and the requirements for obtaining a degree such as a Diplom are clearly defined and implemented by law. Consequently, any German employer knows the overall qualification and professional profile of a would-be employee holding a Diplom degree.

However, several German news magazines regularly conduct surveys among students, professors and/or employers. The best-known ranking amongst students and professors (conducted by STERN magazine in conjunction with Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung in Kassel) is published online, under http://www.university-ranking.de.

The quality of all courses is evaluated and controlled by an independent academic body, the Rektorenkonferenz and some other associations. These assure that any university offering a course has the resources to conduct it in a qualified way. Furthermore, the standards, especially of Bachelor, Master, as well as Diplom, Magister Artium and Staatsexamen, are clearly defined in the laws of the universities. These are not minimal standards! Accordingly, one should not select the university based on the name or expected reputation, but based on the own interests. The university is the best that offers those subjects and courses one is particularly interested in! Some less known universities offer courses of highest quality on specific subjects, which can hardly be found.

 


Where can I learn German in Singapore?
The classic place to pick up the German language is the Goethe-Institut (http://www.goethe.de/singapur), which offers weekly classes in German as a Foreign Language on all levels, from beginners to advanced. However, since the pace of the standard courses in Singapore is relatively slow (~ 200 hours per year), prospective students who aim to quickly become proficient in German, are advised to take up intensive courses in Germany instead, either at one of the 16 Goethe-Institutes or at a commercial language school.

German is also taught at a number of other educational institutions in Singapore, including MOELC, National Junior College, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, NUS and NTU.

 


I am a student at NUS / NTU / SMU. Can I go to Germany on a student exchange programme?
Certainly! All three local universities have established student exchange programmes with German partner universities. Please contact the International Relations Office (IRO) of your respective university to find out more about the exchange programmes and eligibility criteria.

 


Can I pursue a degree awarded by a German university here in Singapore?

Yes, you can. The German Institute of Science and Technology is a subsidiary of Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the first private German university overseas. GIST-TUM Asia is offering joint Master programmes with both NUS and NTU. Since 2010, GIST-TUM Asia now also offers Bachelor programmes in cooperation with SIT. Find out more under http://tum-asia.edu.sg/.

 


I am a Singapore citizen intending to study in Germany. Do I need a visa?
Yes, you do. Only citizens of EU countries and of Australia, Canada, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the USA do not need a visa to study at a German university. You are urgently warned against entering the country as a tourist; a tourist visa cannot be converted into a visa for study purposes after your arrival in Germany.

The German Embassy Singapore issues three types of educational visas:

  • a language course visa, which is valid only for the duration of the course and cannot be subsequently converted into a student visa
  • a student applicant visa, if you do not yet have a certificate of admission to higher education or confirmation of application; on receipt of the admission letter, it can be converted into a residence permit for student purposes at the aliens’ registration office (‘Ausländerbehörde’).
  • a student visa (‘visa for study purposes’) valid for one year (renewable in Germany)

If you intend to commence your studies in Germany immediately after your language course, you need to apply for either a student visa or a student applicant visa before your arrival in Germany, otherwise you will have to leave the country at the end of the course and reapply from Singapore. The visa for a language course cannot be converted into a student visa or a student applicant visa in Germany!

In order to apply for a student visa, you must submit a valid passport and a number of passport photos, a completed application form for a residence permit, a letter of admission from a German university (‘Zulassungsbescheid’), authenticated copies of your educational certificates as well as proof of sufficient funding (a bank statement or similar), in order to show that you (or your parents, sponsor etc.) have enough financial resources to cover the living expenses incurred during your stay in Germany (minimum EUR 600 per month, i.e. EUR 7200 per year). Please submit the supporting documents in duplicate. Processing time for a student visa is about six to eight weeks.

For detailed information about the different types of visa and the application process in general, please refer to http://www.singapur.diplo.de/Vertretung/singapur/en/04/2__Visa/__Visa.html
or contact the German Embassy’s consular section directly. The staff there will be pleased to assist you in all questions regarding the visa application process.

 


I have received an admission letter from a German university. What do I have to do next?
Apply for a student visa at the German Embassy as soon as possible. Processing time can take up to eight weeks. For more information about the visa application process, please refer to http://www.singapur.diplo.de/Vertretung/singapur/en/04/2__Visa/__Visa.html


Where is the German Embassy located?
The German Embassy has moved in September 2004 and is now conveniently located near the Raffles Place MRT station.

50 Raffles Place
#12-00 Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 048623

Tel.: (65) 6533 6002
Fax: (65) 6544 1132
Email: germany@singnet.com.sg

Opening hours of the visa section: Monday to Friday: 9 am – 12 noon

 


Am I allowed to work part-time while in Germany?
Yes, you will be allowed to work part-time. However, if you are not a citizen of an EU country, or of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will only be able to work for up to a maximum of 90 days or 180 half days (up to four hours each) per year without a work permit. Please remember, though, that it is not easy to find a job, especially if you speak little or no German. On-campus academic jobs such as those of student assistants and tutors (‘studentische / wissenschaftliche Hilfskräfte’) are exempted from this limitation on working hours, but such sought-after jobs tend to be snapped up quickly. If you are a DAAD scholarship holder and would like to earn some extra money besides studying, you will first need to get permission from the DAAD. Detailed information on work permit legislation can be found on the following website: https://www.daad.de/deutschland/in-deutschland/arbeit/en/9148-earning-money/

 


How do I find a place to live?
You will find private accommodation offered on the notice boards in your university or college, at the “Studentenwerk” (student services) or at the “Akademisches Auslandsamt” (international office). A very promising flat-hunting strategy involves studying the classifieds in local papers, but you will obviously need to know a little bit of German for that. Those who want to get their hands on one of the student hall of residence places (state-subsidized and thus good value for money!), need to let student services know of their interest as early as possible. There are also privately-run hostels.

If you want to start hunting for a flat from home, you will generally be able to find a link to student services (“Studentenwerk”) via the homepage of the university of your choice. Once on the “Studentenwerk” website, you can register your interest in a student hall of residence place. If you would rather live in private accommodation, you can try an international flat-sharing agency such as the “Mitwohnzentrale” (http://www.mitwohnzentrale.de). Shared flats (“Wohngemeinschaften” or “WGs” in short) are very popular among students in Germany (check out http://www.studenten-wg.de, http://www.studenten-wohnung.de).

 


What about health insurance?
Under German law, all university students are required to take out health insurance. Therefore you will need to submit an insurance certificate (‘Krankenversicherungsnachweis’) when you enrol at the admissions office. No health insurance means no registration.

Students who are under 30 years of age, or have not yet completed their 14th semester, pay a very low premium for health insurance, because they fall under the rates usually applicable to lower income groups. The rate is fixed annually by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Any statutory health insurance company (eg. AOK, Barmer Ersatzkasse , Techniker Krankenkasse etc.) can give you more information and all the necessary application forms.

Students at colleges of preparatory studies, guest researchers, anyone taking part in language courses and students who are older than 30 years of age do not qualify for public health insurance. Nevertheless, they still have to supply proof to the Aliens’ Registration Office that they have adequate health coverage in order to attain a residence permit. Thus, they will have to take out private health insurance cover (eg via http://www.ausland24.com).

 


I would like to get in touch with fellow Singaporeans studying in Germany. Whom should I contact?
Aiyah, the Singapore Students’ Association of Germany, lah! ;-)
Check out their website (http://www.ssag.eu), chock-a-block full of useful information on everyday life, read the first hand experience reports, browse the forum or get in touch with them via email (exco@ssag.eu). You can also join them on Facebook; just look for SSAG.

 


Any advice regarding the bureaucratic jungle?
You should get the red tape out of the way as soon as possible. That may be unpleasant, but it's necessary. Your first stop should be the Residents’ Registration Office (‘Einwohnermeldeamt’). Anyone who plans on staying in Germany for more than three months has to register their permanent address within one week. You'll need a copy of the rental agreement or other documented proof of where you're living (eg a hotel or youth hostel confirmation). If you move, you have one week to register your new address. Your university’s International Relations Office can tell you more.

The Aliens' Registration Office (‘Ausländerbehörde’) is the next stop for students or guest researchers in Germany. This is where you apply for a residence permit (‘Aufenthaltsgenehmigung’). Brace yourself for long waiting times and overworked staff… Students have to prove that they can support themselves financially. This means they will have to have at least € 500 at their disposal each month. Proof of health insurance cover is also essential! Residence permits for students are valid for one year only and have to be renewed annually.

Next, make your way to a bank or to the Post Bank in order to open a current account. Don’t forget to bring along your registration from the Residents’ Registration Office and your residence permit.

Once you have completed all these steps, go to the ‘Studentensekretariat’ to enrol – you will need your passport, residence permit, letter of admission (‘Zulassungsbescheid’), a receipt of the administrative fee, the certificate of health insurance, passport photos and the completed matriculation form (‘Antrag auf Einschreibung’).

Done? Congratulations! You have survived the bureaucratic jungle – now let the fun begin!


I have browsed through your FAQ section, but I still have problems finding the information I need.
Please contact the DAAD Information Center by phone (62234226) or email (info@daad-singapore.org). You are also welcome to make an appointment for a free personal one-to-one consultation.

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