Education and Home

Why study in Germany?

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz - The Philippine Star

Looking over a brochure being distributed by Goethe Institut Philippinen, I could not help but wish that, like some of my friends (not to mention Jose Rizal), I had studied for some time in Germany.

As far as I am concerned, the best ranking of world universities is the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) done by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. This survey focuses on “the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, the number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific, the number of articles published in the journals Nature and Science, the number of articles indexed in the Science Citation Index and the Social Sciences Citation Index Expanded, and the per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution.” (Source: shanghairanking.com)

In ARWU, four German universities are in the top 100, namely, Technical University Munich, University of Heidelberg, University of Munich, and University of Freiburg. In the next 50 are University of Bonn, University of Frankfurt, University of Goettingen, and University of Muenster.

The Goethe Institut brochure lists five reasons for Filipinos to study in Germany.

“Germany offers a great variety of degree programs of high academic standards, cutting-edge technology and advanced research facilities.”

Let me give an example of the high-level research going on in Germany.

Anti-Proton Annihilations at Darmstadt (PANDA) is one of the experiments being done at the Facility for Antiprotons and Ion Research (FAIR), housed at the Gesellschaft fur Schwerionenforschung (GSI), a large accelerator facility with over a thousand researchers. So far, GSI has discovered, among other things, a new tumor therapy using ion beams.

Of course, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) took some of the steam out of PANDA when it discovered the Higgs Boson (popularly known as the God Particle). Nevertheless, PANDA still needs to continue its research, which demands such a high computing power that universities around the world have to lend their computers to the project.

For some time now, I have been trying to get Philippine universities to join the PANDA Grid. So far, however, only Mindanao State University Iligan Institute of Technology understands the importance of the research.

“Tuition fees in Germany are a great deal more reasonable than in other countries.”

This is an understatement. Most federal states in Germany do not even charge tuition fees. Some universities charge a token fee of 500 Euros (about P30,000) per semester. Graduate programs can cost as little as 650 Euros (about P40,000) per semester. Of course, living expenses are a bit high for Filipinos, but the world-class education is worth every Euro.

“An increasing number of international degree programs are partly or entirely taught in English. Students are not necessarily required to speak German in order to be qualified as university students in Germany; however, basic German is required.”

This is a relatively new phenomenon, obviously meant to attract non-Germans to study in German universities. Why are universities around the world so eager to attract foreigners? Because having foreign students in classrooms inevitably leads to more informed academic discussions and better research. All “local” teachers and students in every country tend to see things only through their very limited perspectives.

“German universities offer diverse options. Germany is one of the leaders in the international competition for the world’s best brains. 376 universities, universities of applied sciences, colleges of art, and specialist administrative colleges offer a huge range of subjects and courses.”

This is one of the keys to Germany’s success. There is no discrimination between schools of various kinds. One can go to any kind of university – or even to what in the Philippines is called a “tech-voc training institute” – and still get the same salary and the same respect as anyone else. In contrast, in the Philippines, many big employers limit their search for new employees to graduates of the top four or five schools.

“The academic excellence of German universities and universities of applied sciences is convincing more and more students of high potential from all over the world. There are more than 18,000 international collaborations with almost 4,000 foreign institutions of higher education in 140 countries.”

There are several Philippine schools linked to German universities. For example, The Manila Times College (TMTC), which I head, has an active exchange program with the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universitat Frankfurt am Main (also known as the University of Frankfurt). The joint graduate degree in ASEAN Journalism that will soon be set up by TMTC in cooperation with Thammasat University and Universiti Malaya will have scholars spending some time in Frankfurt, which has a Southeast Asian program.

One of the key weaknesses of our educational system is its overdependence on American models. Take a look at the results of the World Top 20 Education Poll. According to this poll, which collates data from various surveys, the best education systems can be found in (in order): Japan, South Korea, UK, Singapore, Russia, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, Israel, China, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, USA, France, Portugal. (The organization, worldtop20.org, that compiles the list is based in New Jersey.)

If you are a fresh high school or college graduate and want to continue studying in one of the best educational systems in the world, consider Germany.












  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with