Germany vs USA vs UK: Which is the best place to study abroad?

December 8, 2018
by Gautam Gala
  • best place to study abroad

I had to make a choice between studying in Germany, USA or UK. I had to make a choice for the best place to study for me keeping in mind my expectations and requirements. After doing some research and talking to people who were studying in those countries, I chose my destination – Germany. Six years on, I am glad I took that decision. At present, I get a lot of questions from prospective students regarding the dilemma to choose between Germany, USA or UK. Here is why I think you should choose Germany:

A world-class education

Germany is one of the most popular destinations among international students in the world and holds the top spot for international students in the EU as of 2018 [1]. More than twelve percent of students at German universities come from abroad.

German higher education is one of the best in the world! Whether it’s cars or education, people everywhere recognize “Made in Germany” as a seal of quality. You can benefit from Germany‘s long and famous university tradition especially in the fields of engineering and science. A German university degree is highly respected by employers around the world.

Germany has many Top universities in the World. There are 44 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2018 [2], which is more than any other country after the United States and the United Kingdom. There are 43 universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 [3] top 500, with 10 in the top 100:
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (34), the Technical University of Munich (41), Heidelberg University (45), Humboldt University of Berlin (62), RWTH Aachen University(79), University of Freiburg (82), Free University of Berlin (88), Technical University of Berlin (92), University of Tübingen (94) and University of Bonn (100).

SEE ALSO: How to get a Ph.D. in Germany – Studying in Germany

Low on Funds – No Problem in Germany!

The most important reason for studying in Germany is that most courses have no Tuition fee [4]. But, you will need to pay a semester contribution up to 250 Euros, depending upon the university and the services or benefits included. Here is the overview of average tuition fees in different countries around the world. Note the huge tuition fee in the USA and the UK.

SEE ALSO: Why Germany offers free University education to foreigners?

English-taught course in Germany

One of the reasons majority of students go to UK or USA is English taught courses. But, they are not limited to just the UK or the USA.
Good news for those who don’t know any German or if your German isn’t good enough yet. Many courses and degree programs are being offered in English, especially at the master’s degree level. As per the DAAD website, there are 1471 courses that are completely taught in English [4].
SEE ALSO: How to apply at a university in Germany?

Funding Sources in Germany
No need to dip into your or your parents’ savings

Although students don’t pay tuition fees and receive a ton of benefits, the cost of living in Germany can be still considerable. Various means of funding like scholarships, for example, DAAD scholarship [5] are available.

Earning money while studying is a part of everyday student life in Germany. As per a survey conducted by Deutsches Studentenwerk, two-thirds (66%) of the students in Germany have a side job and work 13.5 hours a week on average. Majority students have basic temporary jobs such as waiting, taxi driving, selling, helping out in the office, etc; 40% of students are hired as temporary employees. 28% work as a student or academic assistant (Hilfswissenschaftler), and 11% have tutoring jobs (Nachhilfeunterricht). Students receive an average of 10€ net per hour for their jobs. On an average, students earn a net income of 10€ per hour.

SEE ALSO: Part-time jobs in Germany for International Students

Part-time jobs called “HiWi” (Research assistant) or “Werkstudent” (Part-time job in a company) are available to students for coping up with the living expenses. Studying alone can take significant mental efforts; part-time job opportunities also exist in restaurants, supermarkets, etc. for those who don’t want brain intensive jobs. As an international student, you are permitted to work for 120 full days or 240 half days in a year.

Now compare the cost of living in Munich (one of the costliest cities in Germany) to that in New York or London in the graph below.

SEE ALSO: Germany vs the USA: 7 things that are different

Job Opportunities
Germany faces a huge shortage of skilled workers – means more job opportunities for you!

Germany provides excellent job and Ph.D. opportunities. After completing your degree in Germany, you can stay on in the country for up to 18 months to look for a job related to your qualification. As per a study, Germany is likely to face a shortage of 3 million skilled workers by 2030 [6]; this means more job opportunities after studying in Germany. As you may notice in the graph below, the US has much more unemployment than in Germany.

The current unemployment rate in the UK is 4.5%, which is much higher than Germany. In the graph below, you may notice the unemployment rate in the UK fluctuates wildly. In the last 10 years, unemployment in the UK was as high as 8% around the year 2013.

SEE ALSO: Which occupations are in demand in Germany? – Jobs in Germany

Explore Europe – Germany is centrally located

Besides studying, living in the center of Europe provides you with an opportunity to travel across the whole continent. What more, the German student visa would allow you to travel to 26 countries without any restrictions. you can reach a number of destinations within a couple of hours by train or plane. Whether you want to go skiing in the Alps, mountaineering in the Dolomites, enjoy the beach in Barcelona, visit Paris, Rome or Amsterdam you have a wide selection of travel destination that you can reach within a couple of hours by train or plane. Weekend trips are easy to plan and really affordable.

German (and most European countries) has a very good network of public transport between different cities in Europe and within the cities in Germany. This will make traveling much easier without the need of a car. On the other hand, not having a car in the USA will be a big disadvantage, due to the lack of public transport. The UK is not as centrally located in Europe like Germany. Since the UK is an island, it has limited and expensive train connectivity to mainland Europe (via the Euro tunnel). The image below shows networks of Major High-Speed Rail Operators in Europe, 2018. Have a look at the High-Speed Rail network in Germany!

SEE ALSO: 7 Reasons why living in Germany is awesome

German Language – one of the major world languages[7]

I think it is safe to assume many of us can already speak in English (well this answer is written in English after all!). In the UK or the USA, you may be able to improve your English but will not get a chance to learn a popular foreign language. Living in Germany will make it possible to learn an additional language – German. German is the first language of almost 100 million people worldwide and the most widely spoken native language in the European Union. It is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

The German-speaking countries are ranked fifth in terms of annual publication of new books, with one-tenth of all books (including e-books) in the world being published in the German language. In the United Kingdom, German is one of the most-sought-after foreign languages for businesses. Whatever plan you may have for the future, learning the German language will always be beneficial and opens door to many job opportunities.
The figure shows, the German-speaking population in Europe.

Safety first – very low crime rates in Germany!

A question you may have in your mind is: “How safe is Germany for me?” Despite its history of racism, modern Germany is a multicultural society, with some rare incidents of racism. Also, Worrying about safety and crime in Germany is a natural concern for those who are unfamiliar with the country. Germany is generally a safe country, and while crime in Germany exists, it is rather low-scale [8]. Crime in Germany is not a topic one needs to be concerned about. The UK has a low murder rate as well (slightly higher than Germany). But, have a look at the murder rate in the US in the graph above (more than 5 times in Germany).

Currently, there the word out is that crime in Germany is increasing due to the immigration crisis. But, this is in fact not true! In 2017, the number of recorded crimes sank to 5.76 million — approx. 10 percent decrease in the previous year.

Healthcare – one of the best!

Germany also has a reputation for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world [9], providing its residents with comprehensive health insurance coverage. Everyone living in Germany to be insured by law. UK spending on healthcare as a percentage of GDP is substantially below that of large economies such as the Germany and France (Graph below).

In the USA, a short stay in the hospital can cost you a lot of money!

Activities and Sports

Apart from exploring Germany’s own entrancing history and cultural traditions, there is also the possibility to learn cultures from surrounding European countries and meet people from across the Globe. Students always have some or the other activities to indulge in. There is something for everyone: Music, Food (Local and international cuisines esp. Italian and Turkish), Festivals, Arts, Nightlife.

Sports in an integral part of German culture. About 27,000,000 Germans are members of a sports club, whereas an additional 12,000,000 pursue such an activity individually, showing how keen Germans are in sports (according to estimates).

After coming to Germany, I had time and opportunity (and money – part-time jobs as a student and later full-time job) to learn Skiing, downhill mountain biking, sail-planes, and drums!

Vegan / Vegetarian Food

A country famous for its sausages and schnitzels, vegan/ vegetarian visitors to Germany might worry that they will have to do a bit of hunting to find meat-free munchies. There are actually plenty of vegan/vegetarian options. Both in traditional cuisine and common international staples the Germans have accepted as their own. The university dining hall (mensa) also offer vegetarian food options!
With nearly 10% of the German population is going meatless, Germany has the highest rate of vegetarianism compared to its European neighbors, according to the NGO known as the European Vegetarian Union [10]. On the contrary, there are only 5% vegetarians in the USA [11] or 5.8% in the UK[12].

SEE ALSO: Is studying in Germany hard?

The major difference between German, and the USA or UK universities

One of the major difference in education between Germany and the USA or the UK is that German universities do not invest in resources to provide a very structured course. Students have to organize their own studies. There is no one to hold your hand and lead you through the study course. The burden of learning is on the students and not the university. Also, the number of Professors/lecturers to students is very low.

SEE ALSO: Is studying in Germany hard? – Know what you need to do!

Also, Germany universities don’t invest a lot in developing accommodation for students. Most students (around 90%) have to search for privately rented accommodation. This basically would mean that outside of university hours, there is no real “campus life” like in the USA.

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After completing his Master’s degree from Technical University of Kaiserslautern in Germany, Gautam Gala continued as a PhD student at the same university. His research involves software for safety critical systems like Aeroplanes. He has a number of Scientific publications in collaboration with industries and other universities around Europe and is working with EU-supported projects like DREAMS and SECREDAS.

A Mountain biker, Skier, Hiker, Globetrotter, Gentleman and Engineer, always hopeful of fun & adventure.

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