Before beginning a new chapter in life, there are of course a couple of conditions and formalities to be observed. Even in Baden-Württemberg, the perfect solution to avoiding bureaucracy has yet to be invented. It's our aim, however, to explain the legal aspects and important information on the cost of living as clearly as possible.
Take advantage of orientation days
They are usually offered before lectures start. Student associations will provide you with course related information that helps you to get your studies started well.
Join a learning group
Academic studies aren‘t comparable with studies at school. Especially studies at a university require a lot of discipline and perfect organisation. In particular during the first semesters, everything is new and studies are a challenge. By learning in a group of class mates, you will benefit from brain storming and help each other with regards to organisation and motivation.
Ask for pre-courses
Some faculties offer short term preparation courses, such as Maths courses, running for few weeks before the semester starts. These courses help you to refresh your skills in order to get your studies started well.
Ask for supporting courses
Even if your studies run smoothly in general, there may be one subject, you struggle with. Often, there are supporting courses which take place parallel to your studies – if so, take advantage of them.
If necessary, take a semester off
In the case of issues such as illnes or family affairs, that render studies impossible, you should ask for one semester off. Otherwise the semester will be fully counted, although you cannot take exams. Since some exams have to be taken by a certain deadline, this may be finally a significant disadvantage.
If there is the need to interrupt your studies because you have to return to your home country, it is not enough to ask for a semester off at your university. Additionally, you had better contact the foreigners' authority in order to ask for advice and make certain that your return to Germany will run smoothly.
Don‘t waste time during your preparatory phase
Keep in mind that the residence permit for preparatory courses (college or language course) is usually limited to a maximum of two years. After that time, you are expected to get your Bachelor or Master course started.
If you have decided to study in Baden-Württemberg and do not hold German or any other European Union citizenship, you will first need to apply for both an entry visa and residency permit. Even if you have already been offered a place at a university in Baden-Württemberg, you will still need the relevant study visa. The German embassy or consulate in your home country can provide you with information on the specific requirements, or alternatively you can find them on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.
When do I apply for a residence permit?
- Step 1: enrollment at the University (with visa)
- Step 2: move into an apartment/dorm
- Step 3: register with the city
- Step 4: submit application for residence permit (only possible with lease contract and after registering with the City!)
Your residence permit for studies is valid for one to two years and has to be extended by the foreigners’ authority in your city of residence. You must apply for an extension prior to the expiration of your residency permit. In some cases you need to have your residence permit changed by the foreigners’ authority.
- Change of subject and / or university
- Change from preparatory course (Studienkolleg or language course) to Bachelor studies
- Change from Bachelor to Master studies
- Change from Master to PhD studies
The majority of universities in Baden-Württemberg have their own dormitories, in which practical, single rooms can be rented more cheaply than on the open market. The student services provider (Studierendenwerk) of the university in question processes applications for rooms in the dormitories. You can obtain more details from the Akademische Auslandsamt/International Office of your future university in Baden-Württemberg.
In addition you can search for your own accommodation online:
In Germany it is common for students to share apartments with their fellow students in what's known as a flat-sharing community (Wohngemeinschaft), often abbreviated to: WG. Rooms in WGs are either advertised on the Internet (see links above) or on university noticeboards.
Often a student services provider will offer new students assistance during the initial settling-in period. In dormitories, for instance, tutors may organize ice breakers or tours to help new students get to know the campus and surroundings.
Prior to the start of the term, the housing market is heavily frequented. Most of all, with regard to dormitories, demand often succeeds supply, because many students seek accommodation at that time. Therefore, do not hesitate to apply for a room as soon as you‘ve got your admission.
Whether you wish to study in Baden-Württemberg or one of the other German federal states, you will definitely need health insurance. Health insurance is mandatory for you to enroll officially in your chosen course of study. Matriculation is not possible without health insurance.
If you are under 30, you are generally covered by Germany's public health insurance scheme as soon as you are enrolled for your study course. However, for the duration of preparatory courses (Studienkolleg) or language courses, you cannot get health insurance from a public health fund. In this case you must opt for private health insurance. Once the language / prep course has been completed, students who are younger than 30 can change to the public health insurance for the duration of their studies.
Please note, that health insurance is mandatory. If you don‘t pay your insurance contribution, the university will be informed about that matter and you would not be allowed to continue your studies. If you should ever be unable to pay your contribution, don‘t just skip it – you should contact the insurance company and talk about the problem in order to find a solution.
Further Information about health insurance you can find on this Information sheet or visit the Consumer Information portal. Click for an overview about all offered public health insurances and private health insurances with contact details in Germany.