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Study in France vs. Germany: The Complete Guide

Expatrio 2024-02-15
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So you've decided to study in Europe? Excellent choice! But which country should you choose: France or Germany? Both countries have their pros and cons, and it can be challenging to set on the one that’s the right fit for you.

In this article, we will compare and contrast the two countries so that you can make an informed decision about where to study. Let's get started!

Why should you study in Europe?

There are many reasons why you might want to study in Europe. For starters, Europe is home to some of the best universities in the world. If you're looking for top-notch education, you'll find it here. 

In addition, studying in Europe is a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn a new language. And of course, let's not forget the fact that Europe is a beautiful continent with so much to see and do!

Factors to consider

So what about France and Germany? Both countries have a lot to offer to international students. Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide which country is the best for you.

Tuition fees

One of the first things you should consider is tuition fees. In France, tuition fees for international students in public universities are relatively high, averaging around €2,700 (Bachelor's) and €3,700 (Master's) per year. Additionally, private university tuition fees can be even higher, costing up to €20,000 per year.
You'd be glad to know that tuition fees are completely free in Germany at most public universities. And yes, even for international students! The majority of the universities in Germany are public, but the few private ones charge tuition fees up to €20,000 per year.

Both countries offer top universities in various fields in terms of world university rankings, so it would not be difficult to find a course you like, and that’s top-ranked.

Living costs

Another vital factor to consider is living costs. In France, the average monthly cost of living is around €800-900, excluding rent. The accommodation cost in France is one of the highest compared to neighboring countries, so you need to keep that in mind. Of course, this amount will also vary depending on your lifestyle and city.

The cost of living in Germany is relatively lower than in France as you could easily spend between €800-1200 per month, rent included. Reports also show that living in Germany is cheaper than in France.

Admission rate

The admission rate is also an essential factor to consider. In France, the admission rate is not available, and the admission process is also not transparent, sometimes leading to unprecedented challenges.

In Germany, however, the average admission rate is only around 30% at public universities. This percentage means that you will need to be extra competitive and have excellent grades if you want to study for free in the country. Otherwise, you could also opt for a private university in Germany, which has higher admission rates.

Option to work while studying

Both countries give you the option to work while studying. You can easily offset the fees and living costs while you're studying. In France, you can work up to 964 hours per year. In Germany, you can work for up to 120 full days (40 hours/week) or 240 half days (20 hours/week) per year without any additional permits. These rules mean you can find full-time or part-time jobs in both countries.

Taxes

When studying in Europe, one of the things you'll need to get used to is the complicated tax laws. In France, you will be taxed on your income and assets based on the amount and age. Those earning less than €4,618 and 25 years old or less will not be taxed. If you're 26 and above making more than the stated amount, you must declare all your income.

The laws are a little bit more lenient in Germany. Students enjoy a tax-free income below €9,744, but this increases each year. As years go by, more people will be able to enjoy a tax-free income the more they earn.

Visa requirements

You will need to obtain a student visa to study in Germany or France. The process can be challenging and time-consuming, but it's doable.

First, you'll need to gather all the necessary documents, including a valid passport, a letter of acceptance from a German or French university, proof of financial means, and health insurance. Once you have all the required documents, you'll need to submit your application to the nearest German or French embassy or consulate in your country.

It's important to note that the visa requirements and process may vary depending on your nationality, so check in with the nearest German or French mission for more information. There are significant differences to note regarding the required documents for Germany and France.

To obtain a French student visa, you would need to provide proof of return ticket home in the form of the actual ticket or reservation showing the departure date.

For a German student visa, you need to get mandatory health insurance coverage (around €110/month) and proof of funds during your stay (€934/month) in a Blocked Account.

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Option to live and work after graduating

Both France and Germany offer international students the option to stay in the country after graduation and work. In France, you can remain in the country for up to one year after graduation to look for a job. If you find a job within this time frame, you can apply for a work permit to stay longer. If you're a student from India, you'd be glad to know that you can obtain a special five-year visa to work in France, but you need to earn a Master's degree or Ph.D. from a French university.

In Germany, you can stay for 18 months after graduation to gain full-time employment. If you're highly skilled or earn at least 1.5 times above the national minimum wage, you can apply for an EU Blue Card. This type of residence permit allows a fast-track option to obtain permanent residency in Germany.

Number of international students

As an international student, you want to study in a place where you can meet people of various nationalities. The number of international students studying in France is around 370,000, and the majority of them come from Morocco, Algeria, and China.

In Germany, the number of international students is around 350,000, and the majority of international students come from Turkey and India.

Location

Both France and Germany are great study destinations with plenty to offer to international students. But, depending on your preferences, one country may be a better fit for you than the other.

For example, if you're into historical monuments and fantastic wine and food culture, France is the place to be.

On the other hand, Germany is an excellent choice if you're looking for a study destination with lots of natural beauty and a diverse landscape.

Safety

Both France and Germany are relatively safe countries to study in when it comes to safety. However, some areas in each country may be unsafe for foreigners. It's essential to do your research and be aware of the zones not safe to travel to. In France, some unsafe areas include the suburbs of Paris and certain neighborhoods in Marseille. In Germany, a few risky areas include parts of Berlin and Frankfurt am Main.

Health system

The health system in France is excellent and offers high-quality medical care. Students studying in France are automatically included in the country's general healthcare system.

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living in Germany, locals and foreigners included. International students planning to study in Germany need to get a health insurance coverage of around €110 per month with a public health insurance provider.

Employability after graduating

Finding a job in France is notoriously difficult for international students. However, your chances are a lot higher if you speak French fluently. In recent years, employers in Germany have been more open to hiring non-German speakers as language skills have become less of a requirement, especially in larger cities, such as Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt.

Language barrier

One of the biggest challenges for international students studying in France or Germany is the local language barrier. Unless you're fluent in either French or German language, you'll likely face some difficulty communicating. Learning French or German could be tricky, but many have found it more manageable after a few months of daily interaction with locals.

That being said, many universities in France and Germany offer courses taught in English, so you'll be able to get by with English in your university and social setting.

Weather

The weather in France is typically mild and temperate. The summers are warm, and the winters are cold. Similarly, Germany experiences favorable weather conditions. Keep in mind that each region has its own climate, so do your research about what to pack once you know what area you'll spend most of your time in. The further south you are, the hotter it is in the summer. The further north, the colder during winter.

Culture

France offers fantastic art, fashion, food, and wine culture, while Germany is known for its engineering and technological advancements. When it comes to making friends, international students struggle to make friends both in France and Germany, but it is also highly dependent on the type of people you want to surround yourself with. Our advice? Trust your judgment and be open to new opportunities!

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