The novel coronavirus (sars-cov-2) / covid-19 has effects on international students who want to study in Germany. If you are in Germany as an international student or hoping to become one, you might be wondering:
- How the novel coronavirus affects various parts of the German higher education system and
- how this affects international students in particular.
We base our research on the official German government websites, and on the information given by important points of contact for international students in Germany, such as uni-assist e.V., the DAAD, and the German universities themselves. To make sure we deliver the information that is most relevant to you and other international students, we will host webinars several times per month.
In the meantime, you can find the most recent numbers on the proliferation of registered cases in Germany and a daily updated report on the most important developments on the pages of the Robert Koch Institut (RKI), in German and in English. The RKI is the leading governmental institution in the field of biomedicine and thus tasked with ensuring public health and monitoring the virus in Germany. You can also read up on the regulations in place in Germany directly on the pages of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior. A summary of the information will be given in the webinar, as well as on this page.
Reaction of the German Higher Education System to the Corona Pandemic
To understand how the German Higher Education System reacted to the spread of the coronavirus, there are some organizational things you should know about. Germany has got a federalist political system: There are 16 states, or Bundesland, that are in charge of passing regulations regarding the universities in each state. Therefore, regulations may differ slightly from place to place. On top of that, each university has the freedom to individually define policies that allow them to react appropriately to the current circumstances. Therefore it is absolutely essential that you check directly on the university’s website which rules and regulations are in place and how they affect you.
List of Universities in Germany
We summarize general restrictions and policies in Germany regarding Covid-19 on this page. However, the exact policies regarding studies can vary among universities as each one regulates its own rules. We recommend you visit individual university pages regarding specific regulations for upcoming semesters.
- Aalen University
- accadis Hochschule Bad Homburg
- Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences
- Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin
- Anhalt University of Applied Sciences
- Ansbach University of Applied Sciences
- Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences
- Augsburg University of Applied Sciences
- Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
- bbw University of Applied Sciences
- Berlin International University of Applied Sciences
- Berlin University of the Arts
- Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin
- Bielefeld University
- Brand Academy
- Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg
- Bremen University of Applied Sciences
- Bucerius Law School
- Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
- Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
- Chemnitz University of Technology
- Clausthal University of Technology
- Coburg University
- CBS International Business School
- Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences
- Deggendorf Institute of Technology
- design akademie berlin - SRH Hochschule für Kommunikation und Design
- Detmold University of Music
- Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts
- Dresden International University
- Dresden University of Applied Sciences
- EBC University of Applied Sciences
- EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht
- ESCP Europe Campus Berlin
- ESMT Berlin
- Esslingen University of Applied Sciences
- Euro-FH University of Applied Sciences
- Europa-Universität Flensburg
- European University Viadrina
- FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
- FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences
- FH Münster University of Applied Sciences
- FHM Schwerin - Fachhochschule des Mittelstands
- Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf
- Flensburg University of Applied Sciences
- FOM University of Applied Sciences
- Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
- Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
- Freie Hochschule Stuttgart - Seminar für Waldorfpädagogik
- Freie Universität Berlin
- Friedensau Adventist University
- Friedrich Schiller University Jena
- Fulda University of Applied Sciences
- Furtwangen University
- German Sport University Cologne
- Goethe University Frankfurt
- HafenCity University Hamburg
- Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
- Hamburg University of Technology
- Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences
- Hannover Medical School
- Harz University of Applied Sciences
- Heidelberg University
- Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences
- Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
- Hertie School of Governance
- HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
- HMKW Hochschule für Medien, Kommunikation und Wirtschaft
- Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg
- Hochschule Emden/Leer - University of Applied Sciences
- Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Sciences
- Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart - University of Applied Sciences
- Berlin School of Economics and Law
- Hochschule Macromedia, University of Applied Sciences
- Hochschule Mannheim - University of Applied Sciences
- Hochschule Niederrhein - University of Applied Sciences
- Hochschule Wismar - University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design
- Hof University of Applied Sciences
- HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration
- HTW Berlin - University of Applied Sciences
- htw saar - University of Applied Sciences
- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
- ifs international film school cologne
- International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
- International School of Management (ISM)
- iubh internationale Hochschule
- Jacobs University Bremen
- Jade University of Applied Sciences Wilhelmshaven/Oldenburg/Elsfleth
- Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
- Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
- Justus Liebig University Giessen
- Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences
- Karlshochschule International University
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
- Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences
- Kempten University of Applied Sciences
- Kiel University
- Kiel University of Applied Sciences
- Kühne Logistics University
- Landshut University of Applied Sciences
- Leibniz Universität Hannover
- Leipzig University
- Leuphana University Lüneburg
- LMU - Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
- Ludwigshafen University of Business and Society
- Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences
- Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
- Munich Intellectual Property Law Center
- Munich University of Applied Sciences
- Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences
- NIT Northern Institute of Technology Management
- Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences
- Nuertingen-Geislingen University
- Offenburg University of Applied Sciences
- Osnabrück University
- Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences
- Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences - Hochschule Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel
- OTH Regensburg
- Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
- OWL University of Applied Sciences
- Paderborn University
- Palucca University of Dance Dresden
- Pforzheim University
- Philipps-Universität Marburg
- Private University of Applied Sciences Göttingen (PFH)
- Quadriga University of Applied Sciences Berlin
- Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences
- Reutlingen University
- RheinMain University of Applied Sciences
- Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences
- Rosenheim Technical University of Applied Sciences
- Ruhr-Universität Bochum
- RWTH Aachen University
- Saarland University
- Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences
- South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences
- SRH Hochschule Berlin
- SRH Hochschule der populären Künste
- SRH University Hamm
- SRH University Heidelberg
- Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Städelschule) Frankfurt am Main
- Steinbeis University Berlin
- Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau
- Technical University of Munich
- Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt
- Technische Hochschule Lübeck
- Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm
- Technische Universität Berlin
- Technische Universität Braunschweig
- Technische Universität Dresden
- Technische Universität Ilmenau
- Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
- TH Köln - Cologne University of Applied Sciences
- TH Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences - THM
- Touro College Berlin
- Trier University
- Trier University of Applied Sciences
- TU Bergakademie Freiberg
- TU Darmstadt
- TU Dortmund University
- Ulm University
- Ulm University of Applied Sciences
- Universität der Bundeswehr München
- Universität Hamburg
- Universität Regensburg
- Universität zu Lübeck
- University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde
- University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven
- University of Applied Sciences Cologne
- University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf
- University of Applied Sciences Europe
- University of Applied Sciences Jena
- University of Applied Sciences Konstanz (HTWG)
- University of Applied Sciences Mainz
- University of Applied Sciences Mittweida
- University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg
- University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
- University of Applied Sciences Stralsund
- University of Applied Sciences Wedel
- University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt
- University of Augsburg
- University of Bamberg
- University of Bayreuth
- University of Bonn
- University of Bremen
- University of Cologne
- University of Duisburg-Essen
- University of Education Freiburg
- University of Education Ludwigsburg
- University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd
- University of Erfurt
- University of Freiburg
- University of Göttingen
- University of Greifswald
- University of Hildesheim
- University of Hohenheim
- University of Kassel
- University of Koblenz-Landau
- University of Konstanz
- University of Mannheim
- University of Münster
- University of Oldenburg
- University of Passau
- University of Potsdam
- University of Rostock
- University of Siegen
- University of Stuttgart
- University of the Arts Bremen
- University of Tübingen
- University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (TiHo)
- University of Wuppertal
- Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences
- West Coast University of Applied Sciences
- Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau - University of Applied Sciences
- WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management
- Wilhelm Büchner University of Applied Sciences
- Witten/Herdecke University
- Worms University of Applied Sciences
- Zeppelin Universität
- XU Exponential University of Applied Sciences
Even though universities and federal states have some freedom to decide on which regulations they decide to pass, there are some nation-wide rules in place that each university has to adhere by, as well. The mandatory social-distancing regulations that were put in place Germany-wide have heavily affected university life this year.
The winter semester began later on November 1st and has been a hybrid semester of online and in-person learning, depending on the unviersity policies and the individual case numbers across German states. On-campus facilities are at use for students but with restrictions such as reserving a study area in advance. Students must adhere to the federal hygiene policies e.g. handwashing, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distance. Our best advice: Confirm directly on the university website how your university will organize upcoming semesters.
In the past months, we also saw universities making an effort to give students the opportunity to proceed with their applications and complete all courses on the curriculum. How this might be possible for international students - and which aspects may cause some difficulties - is broken down for you below.
Can international students travel to Germany right now?
Yes, but only with a Certificate of Presence: As of December 2020, only EU (and some Schengen area) citizens can enter Germany with the possibility of additional countries which are defined here. Non-EU students can only enter Germany with a Certificate of Presence; this is a document issued by German universities which states that a particular student's presence in Germany is absolutely mandatory for them to be able to carry out their study program.
Non-EU students who are enrolled for upcoming study programs which, due to Covid-19, have been swtiched to fully online, are not eligible for a visa to come to Germany. These students are given a "distance-learning" student status. They are officially enrolled at German universities and recognized as students but cannot enter Germany due to Covid-19. For the lastest details, visit the German Federal Ministry of the Interior's Covid-19 Information Page.
We repeatedly came across the information that, ultimately, assessment whether you can enter Germany is valid or not is in the eye of the border patrol officer. Note that, for example, if you show symptoms of the virus, you may not be allowed to enter. Also, the regulations may change according to the development of the pandemic. You can find the most up-to-date information on the webpages of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior as well as on the website of the federal police, who executes the border controls and on the pages of the German Federal Foreign Office.
What quarantine regulations apply after I enter Germany?
First and foremost, if you will have to go in quarantine after arriving in Germany or not depends on whether you entered Germany from a so-called risk area or not. Risk areas are defined by the RKI and depend on the proliferation of covid-19 cases in an area. Therefore, EU countries may be considered risk areas, as well. To find an up-to-date overview of the risk areas, check out this link.
Anyone entering the country from a foreign risk area must be tested on entry or in the 48 hours prior to entry. All incoming travelers must undergo a ten-day quarantine, which can be terminated from the fifth day onwards by a negative test. Specific quarantine restrictions may vary among German states.
There are two ways to come by this test result:
Take a test after arriving in Germany
Firstly, upon entry in Germany: Many airports and even bigger train stations provide the opportunity to get a covid-19 test for free after your arrival so that you can take up this opportunity. Taking a test after arriving in Germany from a risk area is mandatory and if you refuse to take it, entry into the country might be denied.
Take a test before arriving in Germany
Secondly, you have the option to obtain a covid-19 test before traveling to Germany. Proof of a negative test result upon entering Germany means that you do not have to take a covid-19 test at the German airport upon arrival. Note that the test has to be conducted no longer than 48 hours before your journey to Germany. Test results are acknowledged by all EU countries and a long list of non-EU countries.
Another thing that you have to do after arriving in Germany, even if you got a covid-19 test, is to contact the Gesundheitsamt of your city to inform them that you started your quarantine. They are also a good point of contact to ask for further instructions, for example in case you arrive in Germany and do not have the opportunity to take a covid-19 test at the airport or train station, or on whether you will be able to leave quarantine early if you obtain a negative test result.
One more thing that you have to check before traveling to Germany is what exactly the quarantine rules look like in the federal state of Germany that you are going to move to. That is because each state can have its own quarantine rules or slightly different versions of the rules we described above. Most significantly, not all states of Germany allow you to leave the two-week quarantine if you have a negative test result. Some states require you to take a second test after a while in order to be sure that you actually did not contract the virus. This website is helpful in finding out different quarantine regulations.
Can international students obtain a visa to start their studies in Germany right now?
- As of December 2020, travel restrictions as as follows: Non-EU and non-Schengen area nationals are permitted to enter Germany to begin quality vocational training only if they meet the following criteria:
- The person has a visa for purposes of training or education (after completing a language course, if applicable).
- The person presents documentation from the training institution confirming that the person’s presence is necessary (in person and not only online) despite the current coronavirus situation.
- Entry for the purpose of attending a language course to prepare for subsequent training is permitted if the person demonstrates upon entry that the training will begin directly after the completion of the language course (without any intervening travel home, which would require re-entry to start the actual training)
- Again: Such a confirmation of mandatory presence issued by the German university also needs to be shown to the border control personnel upon entering Germany. What remains unclear is which portion of your course would have to be taught offline for your university to be able to issue you such a confirmation. Please contact your university directly
The main take-away from this is that the visa process is more difficult right now, but that we see a light at the end of the tunnel and expect the embassy’s services to be available soon again. Most importantly, we want to encourage you to confirm with the embassy or consulate general responsible for your visa application to find out what applies to your situation. Even if they do not offer visa appointments yet, you will be able to reach the embassy employees via phone or e-mail and it is essential that you contact them, inform them about your situation, your plan, and potential difficulties. This is the best way for you to get the most up-to-date and the most official information on whether you can obtain a student visa and travel to Germany.
What does everyday life in Germany look like right now?
Starting December 16th, a new lockdown was put into place by the German government in order to curb the increase of cases. On January 5th, the German parliament tightened restrictions further due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Restrictions now include the following:
- Private meetings beyond one's household are only allowed with one person from another household.
- Cafes, restaurants, and bars remain closed but can offer delivery or takeaway (to-go) services.
- Schools and dayscares remain closed
- Only supermarkets and stores for basic needs remain open
- In states with more than 200 infections per 100,000 inhabitants reported within seven days, people should not be allowed to travel more than 15 kilometers from their place of residence without valid reason i.e. recreational travel is forbidden in those states.
*Additional regulations can vary among states and cities (German Federal foreign Office)
Further ReadingVisa Requirements for International Students to Study in Germany
Were international students able to apply for the winter semester 2020/21?
Yes, international students were able to apply for the winter semester 2020/21. Especially for bachelor’s programs, the application deadlines were extended until the 20th of August. Similar cases may apply to some master’s degrees.
Some programs ask international students to apply via uni-assist e.V. which is a platform that handles and checks international students’ applications to German universities. Uni-assist continues to process applications as usual. This is good news and means that the application processes seem to remain in place. Under the current circumstances, uni-assist may take a bit longer to process your application, which is why it is recommendable to apply a bit on the early side. You can see updates and their current processing times here.
However, application processes will be more stressful, especially for international students. You may experience difficulties in compiling all the required documents. It is for example harder to obtain notarized translations or certified copies at the moment. Another problem is that depending on where you are, international postal services may be restricted or delayed. If the program you would like to apply to requires paper-based applications or certifications you cannot provide at the moment, contact the program coordinators or the International Office of the university. If you have to apply via uni-assist (which does require online and paper-based applications) ask them for possibilities to deal with the situation. We expect that rules will differ from university to university, and you should absolutely confirm what applies to your case. The good news is that we have heard of individuals who were allowed to send in their applications online only.
Can international students expect to receive a ‘normal’ university education in upcoming semesters?
The summer semester, which usually lasts from early April to the end of July and then has a lecture-free period until September, was very affected by the pandemic. It remains open whether the winter semester 2020/21 will look more like university education as we know it, or whether the COVID-19 regulations will continue to have heavy effects on university life.
Some of the restrictions we saw during the year included:
- postponing the semester start
- online courses instead of in-person seminars,
- no physical access to the library or other student infrastructure (for parts of the semester),
- extension of deadlines for examinations, exemptions from having to take part in exams.
The start of the winter semester was postponed to November 1st. On November 2nd, the Corona-related regulations will be made stricter again, which is currently said to last throughout the whole months. Authorities refer to this as “lockdown-light” and the regulations will include closure of restaurants and gastronomies, limiting all private gatherings to a minimum and never meeting with people from more than two households. Supermarkets and elementary or high schools, however, do remain opened. This new “lockdown-light” likely has implications for university life, too. It is, as of now, unclear whether the restrictions of the summer semester listed above will all be put back into place or not.
Before the announcement of the new restriction, the general trend was that people are advocating to move university education back to classrooms wherever possible. This opinion was for example voiced in an open letter by German academics that was backed by the German student union.
Factors that will influence the execution of courses are whether a university has the infrastructure to teach on campus while still maintaining necessary hygienic restrictions. Overall, it is important to note that this will differ from university to university and even from course to course. Therefore, you should consult directly with the program coordinator of the courses that interest you.
In terms of quality, you will likely still be taught by the same professors on the same topics, even if it is in online-learning formats. The online formats might even improve, given that they were in place for a semester already. Remember, everyone is in the same boat and trying to find the best solution in face of a challenging situation.
How will the current situation affect my ability to finance my studies?
International students who hold side jobs in Germany, for example in the gastronomic sector, may experience some stress right now since they might lose their job and income. If you are affected by this and are dependent on this additional income, you may find a side job in the sectors that do need personnel at the moment: In supermarkets or drug-stores, in food or package delivery services, or in the farming industry. Additionally, students can apply for emergency funding schemes.
The German federal government offers loans and aid schemes for national and international students:
- An interest free-loan that international students can apply for to cover their expenses is avilable for students financially affected.
- For the months of June, July, August, and September enrolled students who are affected financially by the pandemic can apply for the so-called interim financial aid, which grants eligible students up to 500 € per month and does not have to be paid back. This has been re-introduce for the month of November due to the "lockdown-light" restrictions implemented (see above). We recommend you file for this aid since it is pretty much gifted to eligible applicants. An important commentary on the implications of these programs for international students in Germany is provided by the association of international students ‘bas’. Also, contact your university if you are in dire straits due to the crisis and stuck in Germany - some institutions managed to pull together emergency funds and the DAAD also announced that they are working on supportive solutions.
If you are in Germany on a scholarship, we advise you to contact your scholarship provider on how you will be affected. You can expect to receive funding for the agreed-upon period of time. International students on DAAD scholarships who just finished their studies and were scheduled to leave Germany already but couldn’t because of travel restrictions have their funding extended.
If you are looking to apply for a scholarship, we recommend you closely follow the websites of the scholarship providers for important updates, possible changes in application procedures, and latest developments concerning scholarships for the following semesters. According to our research, it seems likely that international students can apply for scholarships. Read our scholarship article for a list of different funding institutions.
Further ReadingScholarships for international students in Germany (2021/22)
What if I got stuck in Germany and cannot return home?
We understand that this is a stressful situation and it is important that you get clear information on what applies to your situation. Good news is that, should you stay in Germany past the validity of your residence permit due to the crisis, you will not be considered illegal. You should contact these information services for help:
your countries’ embassy or diplomatic representation to Germany
your universities’ Studierendenwerk for information on emergency help
your cities Immigration Office
What happens to health insurance of international students?
International students living and studying in Germany have to get insurance with a German insurance provider and are thus covered in the German system. You have the same entitlements that everybody else does. If you get the virus, your treatment will be covered. The rules pretty much remain the same as in any other situation: If you have a health issue, contact your doctor. If you have questions about your insurance, contact your insurance provider.
I plan to study in Germany, but in the far-ahead future. Will I be affected?
The honest answer to this question is: We don’t know. We do not know how long the pandemic will continue to have strong effects on our daily life, how it will develop in Germany, or in your home country and what the long-term consequences will be. To stay up-to date and read expert opinions the websites of the RKI, a website published by the German Federal Ministry for Health, the World Health Organization, or the John Hopkins University are some good sources.
What we do know, however, is that there is life after the coronavirus disease pandemic and there are things you can do right now to prepare your studies in Germany!
Here are just three suggestions:
Find the study program of your dreams with the StudyFinder - Now you really have time to compare curricula, look into professors’ CV’s and find the program that is perfect for you!
Stay informed! Ask your questions! Stay Healthy!
This is the best advice we can leave you with. Stay informed, check for updates, and stay in touch with the German universities you are interested in. The web-links we have compiled for you above are a great place to start.
Secondly, with our covid-19 webinars we want to provide for you an additional platform to ask your questions and get answers live. Follow us on social media to get updates on when the webinars are held and how you can sign up for it.