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 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 a weekly webinar.
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.
Many German universities put in place a web-page with up-to-date information. You should visit these websites and contact the universities with further questions if you need to. To make that easier for you, we linked the respective university websites for you here:
- 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. On March 23rd a mandatory social-distancing regulation was put in place for everyone in Germany. The goal is to slow-down the spread of the virus. Under these regulations people can only meet in groups of two, unless they live in the same household. Everyone has to keep at least 1.5m of distance to each other, and public places as well as non-essential private establishments are largely closed to the public. If you are in Germany right now, you should also stick to these rules and you may be sanctioned if you don’t. In a government announcement on April 15th, these rules were extended, however some businesses are allowed to re-open to the public if they meet hygienic standards. The rules are in place until May 3rd for now, but might be extended. The silver lining: You can still go for a jog outside or enjoy a walk and find all the products you need in the supermarkets!
Of course, this also affects university life. All federal states have postponed the start of the summer semester 2020, depending on the state until April 20th or early May and are then said to be conducted with online and distance-learning format. Cafeterias are closed. On April 15th it was announced that libraries may be opened if necessary hygienic standards can be met, traffic of people is controlled and queues can be avoided. The same applies for seminars that require physical presence, such as lab rotations. Confirm directly on the university website how your university handles these things and for updates.
Can international students travel to Germany right now?
The best answer we can give to this question is: It depends. The biggest decisive factor is whether you already live in Germany or not, meaning that things are tough for people looking to enter Germany as students for the first time.
As a measure to stop the spread of the virus, Germany has put entry restrictions into place starting on March 17th. These ‘temporary travel restrictions’ were said to be in place for 30 days but extended until May 15th for now. 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.
In summary, the new restrictions try to limit all unnecessary travel to Germany, not just for Non-EU citizens, but also for EU-citizens travelling to Germany from EU-risk areas, i.e. France, Denmark, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Luxembourg. Border controls are currently in place for entries from these countries. On top of that, people entering Germany from the Czech Republic or Poland also have to go through controls administered by the respective countries’ governments. Travel restrictions on EU-borders are only extended until May 4th as of now.
Now the question is what travel is deemed unnecessary? We have listed four scenarios you might be in as an international student looking to study or already studying in Germany to help you gain the best overview. Note that we repeatedly came across the information that, ultimately, assessment whether your reason to 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.
A) Students who already live in Germany and want to re-enter:
If you are a student in Germany already and have your permanent home there as well as a valid residence permit you are likely to be allowed to re-enter Germany. The regulations state that everyone who is on a long-term visa, such as students, and needs to get back to their permanent place of residence, i.e. your apartment in Germany, should be allowed to enter.
This is good news for international students who traveled outside Germany for the semester break and now want to return to Germany for the summer semester. We advise you to make sure that your residence permit is not expired. If it is, you might experience difficulties re-entering the country. If you have questions, you can contact the Ausländerbehörde who issued your residence permit, the German mission abroad nearest to you or your university.
B) Students who already have their student visa (or EU-Citizens) who want to start their studies:
After inquiring with the German Federal Ministry of the Interior we learned that you will most likely not be able to enter Germany to start your studies, even if you have your visa already or are an EU citizen. Given that your purpose of entry, i.e. studying, may not be fulfilled with the recent changes or may as well be fulfilled abroad with distance learning concepts, it is not deemed relevant enough to waive the entry restrictions. We know that this is a bummer. The best thing for you to do now is to wait it out, contact your university and explain your situation to them and stay in touch with the German mission abroad near you for further information.
C) International students who have a pending visa application:
For international students who require a student-visa to enter Germany and already have finished the visa application process, including the interview, and are waiting to hear back from the German embassy also experience difficulties.
Through the grapevine we heard that pending processes were put on hold for now, meaning that the giving out of the visa was postponed to a later point in time, but we cannot find official confirmation on that. In all likelihood, the German embassy handling your application will inform you on your visa status as soon as they can. You should contact them with further question, as well as if you receive information from them that is not all clear to you.
D) International students who wanted to start the visa application process soon:
Unfortunately, international students looking to start the visa application process while the current regulations are still in place will have a hard time to do so. On one hand, many German missions abroad are closed to the public and only take emergency appointments (which student-visas do not fall under). Therefore, getting an appointment under the current regulations might be difficult. You should confirm this with the embassy or consulate general responsible for your visa application.
On the other hand, some documents necessary for the application, such as certified copies or notarized translations may be hard to come by, since authorized translators’ offices may be closed.
The main take-away from this is that moving to Germany for the first time right now will be difficult. You should also consider the commercial airline flights available to you right now, which poses another challenge. Under a new German regulation from April 1st, for example, all flights from Iran to Germany were cancelled.
One last thing you should keep in mind is that moving abroad is exciting, nerve-wracking and a bit scary- with or without a crisis going on. It is pretty normal to experience some culture shock in the beginning, and settling in might be even more difficult if you cannot meet and make friends with your fellow students in person and explore your new home town. We want to encourage you to not just think about your next career step, but to also make sure you feel well and comfortable with the extra insecurities added to an already pretty exciting adventure. Staying put in the familiar surroundings of your home may not be the worst thing to do right now!
Can international students expect to receive a ‘normal’ university education in the summer semester 2020?
It is pretty clear at this point that the summer semester, which usually lasts from early April to end of July and then has a lecture-free period until September, is going to be affected by the pandemic.
Some measures taken by many universities are:
postponing the semester start, most often until April 20th/ early May
online courses instead of in-person seminars
no physical access to the library or other student infrastructure (which may change after April 20th)
extension of deadlines for examinations
This means that in terms of the quality of your education and student experience, many restrictions will be a bummer: No classroom interactions, less convenient access library resources, no personal interaction with your professor, no lunch breaks at the cafeteria and so on.
However, universities are working hard to make it possible to allow their students to proceed with their studies at a normal pace and to cut them some slack where this might not be possible. In terms of quality, you will likely still be taught by the same professors on the same topics, just with online-learning formats. Remember, everyone is in the same boat and trying to find the best solution in face of a challenging situation. We do not know yet how well the transition to online-courses will go, or when things will change back to normal.
Can international students enroll for the summer semester 2020?
For international students looking to start their degree program in Germany in the summer semester 2020, that means this April, another important question is whether they will be able to enroll themselves as students. Enrollment is the last step all students have to go through after being admitted to a program: It signals to the university which admitted you that you accept their offer and wish to pursue your education with them. You will only get your student card and your online ID’s after enrollment.
- How you will have to enroll exactly depends on the university and it is usually indicated to you in the letter of admission. Most universities will ask you to enroll in person, or to pick up the student ID in person. Right now, this is not possible, which is why universities have switched to remote enrollment systems. We also see that enrollment deadlines were extended at some universities. Therefore, from what we can see, new students who already have arrived in Germany will likely be able to enroll and fully take part in the online courses.
- Some difficulties may arise for international students, who have had difficulties traveling to Germany right now and are therefore not here yet but still would like to start their semester. On one hand, you may think that it should be especially easy right now: If enrollment systems are switched online and courses are offered in distance-learning formats, it seems as though you should be able to fully partake in the semester - no matter where you are on the globe.
The problem is that certain documents, which are usually required for enrollment, are hard to come by if you are not in Germany, for example a proof of health insurance from one of the German providers. It is important that you stay in contact with the university you would like to enroll at if you are in this situation. In your letter of admission, you should have received some contact details. Alternatively, your program coordinator or your university’s Studierendensekretariat and International Office will be good places to ask what to do in your situation.
Can international students apply for the winter semester 2020/21?
Secondly, 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. As of April 17th 2020, uni-assist announced that they continue 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 the current processing times here.
One area, in which international students may experience difficulties is in compiling all required documents.
- This might be because they can not get 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 for now.
First off, for students who already are in Germany, your proof of financial means (e.g. your blocked bank account) should ensure your ability to sustain yourself even now. If you are in Germany on a scholarship, we advise you to contact your scholarship provider on how you will be affected.
However, 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. 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 fund and the DAAD also announced that they are working on supportive solutions.
How will the current situation affect my ability to finance my studies?
International students who were hoping to win a DAAD scholarship will have a harder time. On their website, the DAAD announced that they have no scholarships available for the summer semester 2020. You should follow their websites for more updates and for latest developments concerning scholarships for the following semesters.
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 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.
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 weekly 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.