Blocked account a special type of bank account from which only a certain sum can be withdrawn each month. It is accepted by the foreigners’ registration offices as proof of funding for international students. Enough money must be in the blocked account to fund the student for one academic year in Germany.
EEA in addition to the EU member states, the European Economic Area includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Enrolment see Matriculation.
European Higher Education Area the EHEA now encompasses 47 countries, the Holy See and the European Commission. When countries join, members commit themselves to implementing the Bologna reform in their respective higher education systems.
Fastnacht also known as Karneval or Fasching, this is the period before Lent begins. It is celebrated with processions, music, masks and costumes, as well as with carnival meetings and speeches.
Federal Employment Agency a federal agency whose principle task is work placement and the promotion of employment. The local offices are known as Agenturen für Arbeit – employment agencies. International and Specialized Services (ZAV), a branch of the Federal Employment Agency, must give its approval for non-EU citizens to be allowed to work in Germany. Exceptions are made for highly qualified professionals and academics, among others.
Federal states the Federal Republic of Germany comprises 16 federal states, known in German as Länder. Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen are city states, i.e. cities that simultaneously have the status of a state. The Länder exercise their own state power and each has a state parliament and a state government. As members of the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house of parliament, they are involved in drawing up federal legislation.
Foreigners’ registration office a municipal office responsible for all issues relating to the law on aliens and residence permits. The foreigners’ registration office in your local district is responsible for any matters relating to your rights to stay in Germany.
Freedom of movement among other things, this means that every EU citizen has the right in principle to move freely within the European Union, to enter and spend time in any other member state, and to work there.
Health insurance see Statutory health insurance cover.
Higher education entrance qualification the school and educational qualifications and certificates, such as the Abitur in Germany or the International Baccalaureate, which entitle you to study at a German higher education institution. Assuming you meet certain prerequisites, it is also possible to study if you have a vocational or professional qualification.
Immigration office see Foreigners’ registration office.
International Office your first port of call at your higher education institution. The International Office will provide you with information about what the university offers and support with all questions relating to daily life and studying.
Letter of admission the official letter you will receive from your higher education institution, confirming that you have been offered a place. This letter also contains information about whether you still need to meet any other conditions, and if so which, and about where and by which date you can matriculate.
LGBTQI+ the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and intersex. The + is a placeholder to cover any other gender identities.
Matriculation once you have been admitted to a higher education institution you will need to enrol, which is also known as matriculation. Your letter of admission will give you information about where and when you can matriculate at your higher education institution, and which documents you will need to bring with you to do so. Only once you have matriculated will you be able to begin your studies.
Mini job a form of minor employment to which certain limitations apply in terms of earnings and number of hours worked. Persons working a mini job may be employed in the commercial sector or in a private household.
Minimum wage the general statutory minimum wage in Germany is the lowest wage that can be paid to workers. From July 2022, the minimum wage is 10.45 euros gross per hour. From October 2022 it is set to increase to 12 euros gross per hour.
Numerus clausus (NC) this is the term used for subjects with restricted access, i.e. when the number of applicants exceeds the number of university places available. In many cases, different application deadlines apply to NC courses than to NC-free courses. You can check with your higher education institution or in the Higher Education Compass whether access to the degree course you are interested in is restricted.
Prescription a prescription is given to you by your doctor and enables you to obtain the prescribed medicines or treatments from a pharmacy or therapist.
Private health insurance cover see Statutory health insurance cover.
Proof of funding international students from non-EEA countries must provide proof, normally when applying for their visa, that they have sufficient money to fund their studies. Currently, the required amount is 10,322 euros for one year (this is likely to be increased to 11,208 euros from the 2022/2023 winter semester).
Public viewing event in Germany, fans often get together at a public viewing event to watch a football match or other sporting or cultural event on a large screen, usually outside.
Residence permit if you wish to remain in Germany for a prolonged period and do not come from a European Economic Area (EEA) state or Switzerland, you will need a residence document. There are two types a residence permit and a settlement permit. Though the residence permit is generally issued for only a limited period, it can be extended. You will only be able to work if this is explicitly stated in your residence permit. The settlement permit has no limitations in terms of time or place and entitles you to pursue gainful employment. The documents issued before you enter Germany by a German diplomatic representation abroad are known as visas.
Residents’ registration office the place to register, re-register and deregister when you move house within or arrive in Germany.
Schwarze Bretter (i.e. blackboards) information boards – usually accessible to all – that are used to publish notices and small adverts offering or seeking goods or services.
Semester fee a fee that all students have to pay to their higher education institution when they first matriculate and each time they subsequently re-register to continue their studies. Among other things, it comprises social contributions for the student body and for the student service organisation (“Studierendenwerk”). In addition, it may pay for other benefits such as the semester ticket. This fee should not be confused with the tuition fees that are charged in some of Germany’s federal states.
Settlement permit see Residence permit.
an important document that you will need to prove that you have a social insurance number when you begin a new job or when you apply for a social security benefit.
SS/SoSe the abbreviation for summer semester. This, together with the winter semester (WS/WiSe), makes up the academic year.
Statutory health insurance cover there are two types of health insurance in Germany statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) and private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung, PKV). 90 percent of the population have statutory health insurance.
Student canteen (“Mensa”) this is the university canteen run by the student service organisation (“Studierendenwerk”).
Student ID/student card you will get this card once you have matriculated. You will need it for the library and canteen, for university sports activities, and possibly also as a ticket for local public transport. Your student ID will also entitle you to lots of student discounts, like at swimming pools or cinemas.
Student service organisation (“Studierendenwerk”) the 57 student service organisations that form the Deutsches Studentenwerk take care of the needs of students at higher education institutions. They run canteens, halls of residence, childcare centres and cafeterias and provide funding for cultural student initiatives. They offer psychological and social services and support students in crisis situations.
Student visa you will need this visa for study purposes to enter Germany if you are not from an EEA state or if you already have a residence permit allowing you to study under certain circumstances in another EEA country. You can apply for the visa from the German diplomatic representation in your home country.
Studienkolleg you will only have to attend a Studienkolleg if your school qualifications are not (fully) recognised as a higher education entrance qualification in Germany. At the Studienkolleg you will be prepared for the academic asssessment test and also taught German.
Study regulations these are the rules governing the content and structure of your degree course.
Third country in terms of rights of residence, all countries that do not belong to the European Economic Area (EEA) are considered third countries.
Tuition fees as a rule, no tuition fees are charged for a first degree course at a public higher education institution, and this also applies to international students. Exception: Universities in Baden-Württemberg and some universities in Saxony require students without EEA citizenship to pay general tuition fees; from 2023 Bavarian universities will be able to do the same. PhD students are not subject to these fees.
uni-assist supports international students with applying for a place to study in Germany, checks their documents and lets them know in good time if something is missing. If all of your paperwork is in order, uni-assist will forward your application to the respective higher education institutions, which in turn will decide whether to admit you to your desired degree course.
WS/WiSe the abbreviation for winter semester. This, together with the summer semester (SS/SoSe), makes up the academic year.