Studying the German way – is that possible abroad?

Graduates of the Shanghai-Hamburg College
The graduates of the Shanghai-Hamburg College are happy about the passed examinations. © Prof. Dr. Gustav Vaupel

To study to German standards, you don't necessarily have to travel to Germany. Study programmes offered by German universities abroad are bringing academic training based on German standards to many countries in the world.

German universities have been engaged abroad for many years. There are courses of study “made in Germany” at more than 60 locations worldwide. is a prime example of this kind of international cooperation between universities.

They’ve all come. Clad in their ceremonial gowns with a typical square-brimmed academic cap atop their heads. It is, after all, a big day for the graduates of the bachelor degree courses at the Shanghai-Hamburg College (SHC) in China. In an official ceremony, their German and Chinese professors will present them with their certificates. These students will then hold in their hands a Chinese qualification from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST) and a German bachelor degree from HAW Hamburg.

Studying like the Germans do: Shanghai-Hamburg College in China

is one of a number of projects Germany has been engaged in for many years as part of its drive to make German study and university models accessible abroad. Its intention is to give people all over the world the chance to study under the same conditions as in Germany. One of the main features of these courses is their practical and applications-oriented training alongside resource-oriented teaching based on critical exchanges and the freedom of science, which is held in great respect in Germany.

The two universities in Hamburg and Shanghai have been cooperating since 1998, giving Chinese students the chance to undertake a practice-oriented course of study modelled on German universities of applied sciences.

Around 300 students are registered at the Shanghai-Hamburg College. The Sino-German college is located right in the middle of the 25-million-strong metropolis Shanghai at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST). Here students can choose from between three courses of study:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering 
  • International business and foreign trade

With their specialist training in these key subjects and their German-language skills, the graduates of Shanghai-Hamburg College are highly desirable employees – not only for Chinese companies, but also for German companies based in China.

What does the German-Chinese course of study entail?

The bachelor course lasts for four years and involves a one-year German-language course and an 18-week internship in Germany or in a German-Chinese company in China.

All courses of study culminate in a certified language test. For two thirds of the course, students are taught and study in Chinese, the other third is in German. This means that every semester, and for each course of study, two professors from Hamburg go out to Shanghai. In the interim, they maintain contact via the e-learning platform Moodle. Here teachers in Germany and their students in China can exchange work materials in a virtual classroom.

The bachelor courses end with a dissertation and a final oral examination that is adjudicated by lecturers from both universities. If everything goes well, the students get a Chinese and a German bachelor degree.

Are there any courses like this in other countries?

In conjunction with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), German higher education institutions offer courses of study in some 34 countries at more than 60 sites. There are – as in Shanghai – individual courses of study, but also German universities abroad. These include, for example, the , the in Amman and the .

More than 31,000 students are registered at over 270 courses of study now offered by German higher education institutions around the globe. Furthermore, there are a great many successful courses of study by German universities abroad whose DAAD support has already come to an end.

The courses are geared to German standards, but also take account of regional needs. The one thing they all have in common is that students come into contact with Germany. The large majority of them are required to learn German and nearly all of them can do part of their courses in Germany.

Further selected German universities abroad

What are the students’ prospects?

Graduates of German courses of study abroad are well trained and have the best chances of starting their professional career in German companies or in academic or research institutions abroad or in Germany. Their qualifications and degrees are recognised worldwide. This explains why demand for these experts is also high in their home countries.

The new graduates of the German-Chinese bachelor degrees course at Shanghai-Hamburg College have every right to laugh and smile into the camera: Their practice-oriented engineering or business training is highly sought after in China – and not only by German companies on site.

Continue reading on the Alumniportal Deutschland

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