Education System

The fundamental structure of the German education system is similar to that of many Western countries.  It consists of elementary (primary), secondary (lower and upper) and tertiary/higher education. It is in the detail – especially in relation to the range of institutions that deliver tertiary/higher education – where the differences lie. International students planning to study in Germany need to be able to identify these differences in tertiary/higher education; a brief outline follows:

  • Traditional universities (Universitäten)
  • Equivalent higher education institutions including technology (Technische Hochschulen or Technische Universitäten) and education (Pädagogische Hochschulen)
  • Colleges of art and music (Kunsthochschulen and Musikhochschulen)
  • Universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen)
  • Universities of applied administrative sciences (Verwaltungsfachhochschulen)
  • Professional academies for vocational education and training (Berufsakademien)

Most of these institutions are public (government). There are some privately run institutions; however, public education is the first choice for most (more than 90%).

Five Quick Points About Germany

  • Nearly one-tenth of world’s international students go to study in Germany
  • New bachelor-master system offers degrees which are internationally compatible
  • Emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, international outlook, and theory balanced with practical applications
  • Very green, environmentally aware society
  • Blend of modern and traditional cultures

German Visa :

For Saudi nationals who apply for Schengen visas the previously obligatory personal interview at the German Embassy can now be waived. Visa applications can be submitted directly to the VFS Global Visa Application Centers in Riyadh and Jeddah. In some cases, the Embassy will need further information after examination of the submitted documents. Preferably, this information should be obtained from the applicant, his/her host in Germany, sponsor, employerand other via telephone. It is therefore important that the application contains telephone numbers, through which the applicant, his/her host in Germany, sponsor, employer and other can actually be reached. To ensure that the visa is issued on time, the applicant should make sure that his/her application for a Schengen visa is submitted at least 14 days prior to the scheduled date of travel.

Do I have to enter and leave via Germany if I have a German visa or can I do so elsewhere?

The information given currently by some authorities, airlines or travel agents in the Kingdom is either incomplete or misleading. To provide you as an esteemed traveller to the Schengen countries with correct information is one of our main concerns. The Embassy wants to avoid that you and your family face difficulties when you stand in front of the airport check-in or at the immigration officer in the Schengen area.
First of all: 
In general you can enter the Schengen area at any place. The country of entry and departure is not the determining factor. The entry into and departure from the Schengen area can thus occur at any border crossing.

However one simple rule has to be kept in mind:
Please submit your application to the embassy or consulate general at the Schengen country of your main destination, e.g. if you would like to travel for one week to Germany and less than a week to any other Schengen country the German Embassy will be responsible for your visa application. The Embassy of the country you intend to stay the longest period is your right choice to get the visa from.
If your stay within the Schengen countries is equally divided, the embassy of the country you intend to enter the Schengen area will be responsible, e.g. you will stay one week in Germany and one week in Italy, but your flight is booked or you intend to fly directly to Italy from the Kingdom, the Italian Embassy will have to issue the visa.
For more information and clarification please read the following info sheet, that also gives information on how to lift an entry ban imposed by German authorities:
Schengen regulations [pdf, 419,35k]
Holders of a Schengen visa (text on the visa reads "valid for Schengen states") or a residence permit of a member state can stay in the entire Schengen area for up to three months per half year, counted from the day of the first entry. The Schengen area consists of the following countries:
Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
General information
If you wish to travel to Germany on tourism or business purpose you will require a short term visa for the Schengen states.
You can find all relevant information in our information sheets as well as the application forms for Schengen visas and residence permits on the right side of this page.
Short term visa applications are to be submitted to our Joint Application Center in Riyadh or Jeddah for your convenience and to assure that all relevant documents are included in your file. You do not have to appear there personally. You can either send a messenger or submit your documents by any mail service. In that case, please make sure that all required documents are complete.
Further detail on how to reach the Visa Application Centers are made on the following website:
Please bear in mind, that for several nationals the procedure will take up to 14 days minimum starting from the moment you drop your application at the Visa Application Center till you get back your stamped passport.
During the process time no information on the status of your application can be given neither by the Embassy nor the Visa Application Center. 
Make sure you apply in time to avoid being rejected !
The visa fee is 60.00 € and will be charged in Saudi Riyals at the current exchange rate of the Embassy. The Visa Application Centers are entitled to charge a processing fee.
For an overview of states whose citizens require a visa to enter Germany, please check the website of the German Federal Foreign Office for the table of countries who require a visa prior to arrival.
Do I need an airport transit visa while waiting for my onward flight to a non-Schengen state?
In general, Saudi nationals do not require an airport transit visa if they have an onward flight (NOT within the Schengen area) from one of the major German airports as long as they do not leave the airport transit area.
For an updated list of nationals who are required to bear an airport transit visa, please read our Information sheet for airport transit visa [pdf, 140,58k] .
My visa application has been rejected without a reason being given. What can I do?
According to Section 77 (2) of the Foreigners Act, no reason has to be given when a visa application is rejected. You do however have the option of writing to the visa department of the competent German mission abroad asking for the reasons leading to the rejection of your application (known as remonstration). Please note that you have to submit the remonstration yourself.
According to Section 71 (2) of the Foreigners Act, responsibility for visa affairs lies with the competent German mission abroad. The mission bases its decision on the granting of visas on the provisions of the Foreigners Act. Often applications are rejected because the purpose of the visit lacks plausibility and there is insufficient proof of the applicant's readiness to return.

Information Specific to International Students

Close to 250,000 international students are enrolled at German institutes of higher education. This makes Germany among the most sought-after destination countries in the world.

International students may have to pay some minor tuition fees. However, this is a recent situation and doesn’t apply to all higher education institutions. Therefore, it is essential to source such information from the individual institution to determine if tuition fees apply.
There is a German language proficiency requirement for entry to higher education institutions, the DSH (DSH-Prüfung). In some situations, basic language may be accepted dependent upon the course, the level of study, and the language of instruction. German-language courses are available at most institutions.

To gain acceptance, non-European Union (EU) students may have to prove financial capability. Applications should include evidence of capacity to meet the costs of studying/living in Germany.EU regulations govern the assessment students from EU countries wishing to study in Germany. Non-EU students may need to obtain a student visa prior to entering Germany. Students should first check with the German embassy or consulate in their own country to obtain the most up-to-date information about student visa requirements. Visa application processing for long-stay visas can take several months, so students must allow sufficient processing time prior to their intended date of entry. Students who wish to seek work while studying need to check if they will need a work permit.

Within seven days of arriving in Germany, all international students must register with the relevant district administrative office. Proof of, or application for health insurance coverage, must be submitted to the district office of the AOK (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse). After three months, all international students – regardless of country of origin – need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).  

International students can work while they study in Germany, and because student jobs are subsidised (entailing lower social security costs for employers), many German employers find student workers an attractive option.

Living Conditions and Cost of Living

International students living in Germany can generally live on €750–€950 a month: accommodation €230–€400, food €220, books/stationery €50 and other €250 (e.g., transport, entertainment, laundry, telephone) depending on location and type of housing. Tuition fees, where applicable, are an additional cost. Health insurance is usually around €50–€60 a month. Student accommodation is less expensive than renting a flat. International students should be aware that often flats are let unfurnished and that there may only be a sink in the kitchen area. Tenants then have to provide all other kitchen facilities.

Location – Climate - Culture

Location and Geography

Germany (Deutschland), the sixth largest country in Europe by land area (349,520 square kilometres), is situated in central Europe, with coastal access to the North and Baltic Seas. It is bordered by nine other European countries to the north, east, south, and west. It comprises lowlands (north), uplands (centre), and the Bavarian Alps to the south. Berlin (in the northeast) is the capital.


The climate of Germany is temperate (and marine in the north), with cool, cloudy, wet winters and warm summers, occasionally tempered by the Föhn, a warm mountain wind. There can be marked variations in climate from region to region.

Society and Culture

Germany is still basically a homogeneous ethnic society (German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1%). A trend toward a more multicultural society is now occurring with a greater emphasis on integration of immigrants. Restoring the social unity between West and East has been an ongoing agenda of the German government since reunification in 1990, with living conditions, education, and health as important priorities. The family remains at the core of German society though traditional gender roles are disappearing, bringing German society and culture more into line with the modern Western world. Culture in Germany has many facets. From world-famous orchestras, architecture, museums, churches, and traditional cuisine to avant-garde art and music, the international student will find a mix of modern and traditional. The Germans enjoy the outdoors along their beautiful riverbanks and in the gardens which can be found in most cities and towns. Germany is a sporting nation with football the no.1 sport. Walking and cycling are common leisure activities. Train travel is excellent and fast, making it easy to get around the country to festivals and other cultural events.