Germany is one of Europe's largest nations, with one of the largest populations. Although it has played a major part in European and world history, it has been a single, unified nation for less than 100 years. The area that now makes up Germany originally was a cluster of partially independent cities and states.
The German university system is one of the oldest in the world and has set the standard for higher education in many countries.
The degrees awarded by German universities are highly regarded and recognized throughout the world by employers and academic institutions. The principal degree awarded in Germany for scientific subjects is the "Diplom" or Diploma, which is considered to be equivalent to the Master of Science or Master of Engineering degree awarded in, for example, the United States or the United Kingdom. Most students aim at achieving the Diplom, which is a professional qualification. The "Vordiplom" - 'prediploma' - is an intermediate stage in Germany, considered to be roughly equivalent to the level reached for a Bachelor of Science degree in America or Britain, although it is not a degree. The German higher degree, the doctorate, is equivalent to any in the world.
For the international student an important feature of most German universities is that they do not charge tuition fees. University education in Germany is federally funded.
Another important and attractive feature of the German system is the freedom that you have to plan and organize your own work. Each faculty provides timetables and study plans, but the regulations permit students to individually vary the timing of courses and the content of particular seminars and projects. This enables you to construct a programme of study that is tailored according to your own personal needs and interests.
Attendance at lectures and tutorials is for the most part not compulsory. But your course projects will be regularly assessed. These assessments, together with examinations, ensure that you meet the high standards required by the course.
German universities have been the scene of many groundbreaking discoveries, gaining them international renown. Modern German universities also combine theoretical work with its practical application. They both educate and train - basic research is augmented by applied research. Interdisciplinary cooperation is common, and many learning institutions cooperate closely with multinational firms and with research institutes in Germany and abroad. In the end, this increases graduates' chances on the job market.
Many of today's students no longer want a purely theoretical education. A variety of comprehensive universities and universities of applied science in Germany offer balanced academic training necessary for a professional career. Practical experience in regional companies is often part of the curriculum. German companies are interested in attracting well-trained graduates from abroad. And in many cases, these former students can continue to work for the company as a foreign spokesperson once they return home.