Here’s where Germany’s top universities stand in new global ranking

Is your university on the list of the best places to study in Germany, according to new global rankings?

Here's where Germany's top universities stand in new global ranking
Students at the Technical University in Munich. Photo: DPA

Germany’s best university is in Munich, according to the QS Quacquarelli Symonds global rankings for 2020.

Although no German university was among the top 50 ranked institutions in the world, a total of 25 of the country’s higher education institutions made it onto the list of the 1,000 best universities across the globe.

The top ranking came from the Technical University of Munich, which snagged the number 55 spot. It was followed by the Ludwigs-Maximillian-Universtat München, ranked at 63 and the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg, placed at 66.

The ranking is based on several factors such as how universities are evaluated by international and home students, as well how they are thought of by employers, and the academic world.

The QS list is viewed as one of the most influential university rankings in the world. The list is published on the website, which had close to 70 million visitors last year.

The very top of the table was dominated by US universities, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) coming top, followed by Stanford University and Harvard University. Oxford University in the UK came fourth, while the California Institute of Technology was ranked fifth.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The different types of higher education in Germany

Here’s the 25 German universities and where they’re ranked in the QS list:

55 Technical University of Munich

63 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

66 Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

120 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

124 KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

130 Freie Universität Berlin

138 RWTH Aachen University

147 Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)

169 Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

169 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

179 Technische Universität Dresden

197 University of Göttingen

227 Universität Hamburg

243 Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

260 Technische Universität Darmstadt

279 Universität Stuttgart

291 Universität Frankfurt am Main

308 University of Cologne

314 Universität Mannheim

319 Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

340 Universität Jena

340 University Ulm

347 Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

410 Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz

424 Universität Konstanz

READ ALSO: How spending time abroad can lead to a great business idea (Sponsored)


Ranking – (die) Rangliste

Influential – einflussreich

To publish – veröffentlichen

Academic – akademisch

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating words in some news stories. Did you find this useful? Let us know.

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EXPLAINED: Can foreigners apply for student finance in Germany?

Germany has a system of financial support for students known as BAföG. In many cases foreigners are just as entitled to apply as Germans. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Can foreigners apply for student finance in Germany?

What is BAföG?

Bafög is an abbreviation for a word that would surely be the longest in pretty much any other language expect German: Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz. This tongue twister breaks down to mean Federal Training Assistance Act. 

Ever since the 1970s it has helped Germans from poor backgrounds to take up a place at university to at a training colleague, with the idea being that financial hardship should never prevent someone from entering higher education.

In its current form the law provides for students form poorer families to receive €853 a month, half of which is a stipend and half of which is a loan that you will need to pay back once you’ve entered the workforce. 

The maximum you are expected to pay back is €10,000.   

Some 460,000 students were being assisted with Bafög payments in 2020, the last year for which there are numbers.

READ ALSO: How to finance your master’s studies in Germany as an international student

Who is entitled to BAföG?

There are two basic conditions attached to BAföG: you have to be under the age of 30 to apply and you parents have to be low-wage earners.

There are some exemptions for the age restriction. If you can show that you were not able to start a course of study before your 30th birthday due to health or familial reasons then you might still be eligible later. Also, if you are applying for support for a Masters degree then you can apply for Bafög up until the age of 35.

According to German law, your parents have an obligation to financially support your education. This means that German authorities ask for evidence of their income to assess whether you are in need of state support.

And this applies whether your parents work in Germany or abroad, the Education Ministry confirmed to The Local.

“Income calculation under the BAföG rules takes place regardless of whether one’s parents live in Germany or abroad. This applies both to German nationals and to people with non-German nationality who are eligible for support under BAföG,” a spokesperson for the ministry confirmed.

What about foreigners?

Bafög is by no means only available to Germans. A whole variety of foreign nationals can also apply.

The rules on which foreign nationals are entitled to financial support are fairly complicated. But the following list on eligibility is somewhat exhaustive:

  • If you are an EU citizen, or from an EEA country, and you have lived in Germany for at least five years
  • If you are married to, or are the child of, an EU citizen who has lived in Germany for at least five years
  • If your are an EU citizen who lives and works in Germany and whose intended course of study is connected to your current job
  • If you are not an EU citizen but have obtained permanent residency in Germany
  • If you have received refugee status
  • If you have lived in the country for at least 15 months as a ‘tolerated’ person (ie you applied for asylum and weren’t given full refugee status)
  • If at least one of your parents has lived and worked in Germany for three of the past six years
  • You are married to a German national and have moved to Germany.
  • You are the spouse or child of a foreign national who holds a permanent residency permit.

Due to the relative complexity of these rules it is advisable to speak to local organisations that support students such as the Studentenwerk Hamburg, the StudierendenWERK BERLIN or the Studentenwerk München.

READ ALSO: Essential German words to know as a student in Germany

How do repayments work?

The Federal Education Ministry states that you are expected to pay back your loan even if you return to your home country after completing your studies.

Repayment begins five years after you received the last installment of the loan at which point you are expected to pay back €130 a month. Although this amount can be reduced if your salary is low.

If you haven’t paid everything back after 20 years then the rest of the debt is dropped.