Zero Fee, Flexible Courses: Why Indian Students Beeline to Germany

Low cost and flexible curriculum are among some of the reasons why more Indian students are going to Germany.

6 min read
Zero Fee, Flexible Courses: Why Indian Students Beeline to Germany
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(With both CBSE and ISC announcing class 12 results, The Quint is re-publishing this piece from its archives. The piece first appeared on 4 May 2018.)

‘Bharat in Germany’ has over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube. The channel’s owner, Bharat Chaudhry, an engineer from Haryana who lives in Hamburg, advises Indian students on everything they need to know about relocating to Germany – from choosing a hostel in Germany to buying Indian groceries and getting a part-time job.

Discussions and comments on Chaudhary’s vlogs suggests that his channel is quite popular among desis who are aspiring to go to Germany. Apart from academic queries, some questions as simple as where one can buy second-hand bicycles at a flea market are duly responded.

Other Indian students living in Germany who spoke to The Quint were all praise for Deutschland, where low tuition fee and a wide-range of courses have attracted thousands of Indians in the last few years.


Flexible Courses, No Cultural Barriers

After finishing his Masters in structural engineering from IIT Guwahati in 2012, Ajmal Hasan, whose hometown is Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu decided to pursue research from the Technical University in Braunschweig.

There is no compulsion for students to finish the Masters course within a stipulated period of time. Thus, one can complete the course between 2-4 years depending on their level of understanding.
Ajmal Hasan, Researcher, Technical University (Braunschweig)

In case, you are worried about ‘ghar ka khana’, Germany has enough options to satiate your taste buds.

All varieties of food are easily available at Asian supermarkets and Turkish markets where one can get all the spicy items. One can also try the Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, there is no difficulty in terms of food here in Germany.
Ajmal Hasan, Researcher, Technical University (Braunschweig)

Germany Fast Emerging as an Alternative to US and UK

The fad of applying to Harvard in America and Cambridge University in UK seems to be waning out among Indian students. Germany, with its unique education model, that’s cheap as well as flexible, is fast emerging as an alternate destination to both the US as well as UK. “The reason I chose Germany in comparison to other countries, like the US, is that there is no tuition fee”, says Karthik Pushparaj, currently residing in Schwandorf (near Munich).

After finishing his BTech in electrical and electronics engineering, Karthik who hails from Coimbatore, wanted to go abroad for more exposure.

I was looking for a course in the US but then I figured that there were options available in Germany which were at par and it was comparatively cheaper. There are several courses in English that are offered, which I think, is the best thing for Indian students. The education system is not marks-oriented which, in turn, leaves space to familiarise yourself with concepts.
Karthik Pushparaj

Karthik finished his Masters in Automation & Robotics in 2016 after which he got a job offer from the BMW group.


Student Friendly Curriculum

Apart from low cost, the very structure of curriculum is ‘student-friendly’ and allows one to take a break even when the semester is still in progress.

For Babu Kumaran Nalini, who belongs to Chennai, it was due to vast opportunities available in the automobile and renewable sector why he zeroed down on Germany for pursuing post-graduation.

Germany has developed a lot in the field of automobiles and renewables which makes it a perfect place to study. Cost of education is zero, so you only need to manage the cost of living.
Babu Kumaran Nalini

According to Nalini, the cost of living depends on the city that one is living in. For example, Munich that resembles a metro city like Delhi and Mumbai, allows one to sustain at a monthly allowance of 650-700 Euros (Rs 52,780-Rs 56,840). This can easily go down to 500 Euros if one can manage cooking on his own. For Tier II and Tier III cities, a similar living standard can cost 400-450 Euros.


Is Language a Barrier?

Does language come in the way of pursuing a course? Not at all. However, familiarity with German language helps in going about your daily chores like buying groceries, eating at a restaurant, trying to identify a street or route, etc.

I didn’t face any problem because one can switch to English any time in Munich. German universities give you enough cultural experience, which is helpful. There are ‘buddy programs’ to help one catch the basics of the language.
Babu Kumaran Nalini

Proficiency in language is a bonus and completing A1, A2 levels in German shouldn’t be difficult with the esteemed Goethe-Institut present across India with centers in Bengaluru, Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune.

Just like Chennai-based Hindi Prachar Sabha works towards enhancing proficiency in Hindi for people in southern states, the Goethe-Institut has fashioned itself as an agency promoting German language across the world.

So, in case, you’re planning to join a university or college in Germany, picking up a course at Goethe-Institut that costs somewhere between Rs 4,000-Rs 10,000 may not be a bad idea at all.

There is no Agent-Client Model in German Universities

Since 1950, the German Exchange Service (or DAAD), an independent organisation which represents German universities and is funded by the German government, has been guiding students who want to pursue higher studies in Germany. DAAD is counted among the world’s largest funding agencies that offers scholarships to individuals as well as group projects.

In comparison to other countries like Australia and US, the German universities function differently and agencies are not really their mode of functioning since education is not seen as a business in Germany.
Aditi Gosavi, Senior Advisor (Public Relations and Communication), DAAD

According to the Statistical Office of Germany, since 2010, there has been a 200 percent increase in the number of Indian students who have chosen Germany as their destination for higher studies.


DAAD also ensures that every student has a course coordinator who handholds the student through the application process.

Education is heavily subsidised in Germany and the country is known for offering free education. ‘Free’ basically means that students usually pay marginal tuition fee. Germany doesn’t use the ‘agency model’ that typically involves payment by various universities for fishing students.
Aditi Gosavi, Senior Advisor (Public Relations and Communication), DAAD

Job Opportunities

Fields that offer lucrative opportunities in Germany include mechanical engineering, aerospace and renewables.

Germany has several core companies in the field of mechanical engineering and aerospace. For example, Volkswagen and its sister companies are among top-notch recruiters in the country. Then, there are research institutes on the lines of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) that hire candidates on ‘unlimited contract’.
Ajmal Hasan, Researcher, Technical University (Braunschweig)

Unlimited contract essentially means that you can’t be fired randomly without serving the requisite notice period, thus, acting as a guarantee for expatriates. For students, an additional advantage is the fact that there are plenty of part-time jobs in Germany that can take care of daily expenses. It’s this unusual model of higher education that explains why Germany has emerged as a popular go-to destination among Indian students who are willing to experiment.

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