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Going to university in Europe (Germany)?

(12 Posts)
mrsmootoo Fri 13-Feb-15 08:34:54

Has anyone had experience of post-A level students deciding to study in Europe? DD1 has offers to study German in UK this year, but she's wondering about going to a German university instead.

Moominmammacat Fri 13-Feb-15 10:18:56

We went through this ... I am not terribly well informed so am open to correction ... but our impression, from our DS, is that you are better off in the UK. I have a nephew in Berlin doing an MA in English at the moment and while enjoying it, he says classes are massive, often cancelled and it's all quite casual compared to UK. League tables aren't everything but try looking at the World Top 200 and see what figures in there. Also, German at UK unis is geared up for native English speakers; that won't be the case in Germany. Cheaper though ...

PattyPenguin Fri 13-Feb-15 18:41:07

Most of what you need to know is here:

Specifics on languages skills here:

Fees are cheaper. Living costs vary, as they do in the UK. If you can get into student accommodation (studentenwonheim), that can be reasonable. That's a very big if... there's nothing like enough rooms for all first years, never mind all students.

UK students can't get a UK loan to study abroad. I don't think scholarships are really possible for a full three or four year first degree (more details here

So the student or the family would have to find most if not all of the money to pay fees, travel, course materials and living costs.

Most students studying for a degree in German in the UK spend a year in Germany, and with Erasmus funding that can be a good gig.

Archfarchnad Fri 13-Feb-15 19:01:45

DH teaches at a German university and I used to (and until recently was on the selection panel for a degree course here). What the PPs have said is true - while the actual fees are very low (perhaps a few hundred euros per semester), there is very little pastoral support and some classes, especially in the more traditional unis, can be enormous - particularly for subjects like business and law, up to 300 or 400 students, people sitting on the floor, etc. Most students are older and more independent than is average for school-leavers in the UK, so there is less of a university 'system' laid out for them. Many students have to work to support themselves through uni (loans/grants are only for low-income families). There's less of a campus model, so many Wohnheime are a long way from the actual university and quite socially isolated. German professors are notoriously arrogant and inflexible (well, some of them), the system is far more hierarchical than the UK, and undergrads are the lowest of the low. So your DD would have to be pretty confident and a self-starter. On the other hand, I moved to Germany when I was only a little older - 21- and just turned up by myself with a rucksack, no German skills, and made a go of things from there. It's doable.

And it's right that a German degree would be aimed at German native speakers, so it wouldn't inherently improve your German skills more than simply being in the country and picking it up from all around you - in other words, it's purely literature, not a language-learning course. However, many universities do offer a one semester or one year 'preparation' course which teaches German language skills to prospective students - but that doesn't count as part of your degree. You need to ask about DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache provision).

Have I put your DD off yet? grin

mrsmootoo Fri 13-Feb-15 19:51:47

Wow! Thanks all for your time and info. Yes, it's a lot to think about. Maybe a gap year just travelling, working and improving her German before coming back to the UK to a 'proper' (ha!) university would be better.

Moominmammacat Sat 14-Feb-15 12:08:28

Both uni and school told my DS not to take a gap year because the course is already four years long and he needed to get on with it. Might be fun though, can't imagine it would do any harm ...

PattyPenguin Sun 15-Feb-15 07:36:50

Hmm, Moomin, not too sure about taking a gap year after school, particularly as the university has advised against it. The course is four years long because there's a year abroad included, usually the 3rd year, so your DS will get that experience with most of the arrangements made plus financial support from the Erasmus scheme.

Provided students on their year abroad get out and practise the language and don't socialise only with other English-speaking students (seen that happen, amazingly, I mean, what's the point) they gain a lot from it.

It's always possible to go travelling after getting your degree. I did two languages at A level, got a degree in one, then later went off to France for a year to use and improve my French and just for the experience. It didn't look too shabby on the CV, either.

Oodbrain Sun 15-Feb-15 07:49:06

Dd1 is interested in this. She's wanting to study sciences and keep her language skills so is interested in going abroad. Looks like a sandwich course might be better for her

PattyPenguin Sun 15-Feb-15 10:06:45

Oodbrain, quite a lot of universities offer four-year science courses with the third year abroad. A friend's daughter did biology at York and spend her 3rd year in Denmark.

Might be worth researching.

Oodbrain Sun 15-Feb-15 13:17:18

That sounds good. One of her ideas (she's only yr10) is marine biology so I expect a work placement anyway.

Sorry for hijack!

MillyMollyMama Sun 15-Feb-15 22:00:05

Definitely do the language degree here with a year abroad at a German university. Most UK universities do not require you to pass the exams at the German University but you have to take them. Living with German students helps with the language. It gives students a chance to study another topic, or several, they are interested in without pressure. There is also a chance to travel which should be part of the year!

ImperialBlether Sun 15-Feb-15 22:03:51

Fees for Masters are very low in many European countries so she could do a BA here (with a year abroad) and then study a part-time MA in another country whilst working part-time.

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