UK vs Germany: Which is Better for Indian Students in 2023

The next article in our series of comparing countries is this UK vs Germany one. To choose between these giants in the sphere of international education is not easy. Is it right to blindly choose Germany because you want to study engineering or reject it because you have to learn another language? Can your entire decision rest on one factor?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying in each country?

In the recent past, there has been an increasing demand for Germany as a study destination. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has always been a popular choice. For students from India, both countries offer excellent education systems, research infrastructures and post-study work opportunities. Take a look at the higher education system in the British Isles and Germany at a glance.

The United Kingdom Germany
Top Universities
  1. University of Cambridge
  2. University of Oxford
  3. Imperial College London
  1. Technical University of Munich
  2. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  3. Universität Heidelberg
Duration Bachelor’s: Typically 3 years (Scotland has 4 year programmes)
Master’s: 1 year
Bachelor’s: 3 years (Some programmes might take 4 years). It’s based on a credit system.
Master’s: Typically 2 years (There are a few 1-year programmes.)
Choosing majors/ specialisations At the time of admission At the time of admission
Top Choice of Subjects
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Education
  • Law
  • Business Management
  • Architecture
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities
  • All specialisations of Engineering, especially automobile
  • Business Management
  • Computer Science and IT
  • Social Sciences
Average Tuition fees
  • UG: £22,200 (INR 23,42,677.20)
  • PG: £17,109 (INR 18,05,444.33)
  • €10,000 – €20,000 (INR 10-19.5 lakhs) in private universities. Tuition is free for all students in public universities.
Cost of Living per month (approximate)
  • £1,300 (INR 1,37,216.37)
  • €800 – €1,000 (INR 78,000 – 1 lakh)
Work while you study
  • Allowed up to 20 hours per week
  1. A maximum of 120 full days a year
Post-Study Work Graduate Immigration Route – 2 year stay Extended residence permit – 18 month stay

How to choose between these two countries?

Your choice primarily depends on your course and the university most suited for your choice of studies. Everything else is secondary. Is the university at the cutting edge of your field? Is the university curriculum matching your needs? Where does the university stand in terms of global recognition? These are the questions you must ask first while choosing. Then comes all the other factors such as

  • The teaching-learning style of the department you are applying to
  • The costs involved
  • The admissions criteria that you need to meet
  • Immigration policies and job opportunities and
  • Attitudes towards international students in the university/ city/ country.

Keeping this in mind, here are the pros and cons of studying in the UK vs Germany. Let us dive right in.

1. Cost of Studying

For most Indian students, this is an important factor when choosing countries. As some of the most developed nations in the world, it is natural to wonder how high an investment you will have to make. Here are some average figures to aid your financial planning.

UK: The average tuition for undergraduate study is around 22,200 GBP (INR 23,42,677.20). For Postgraduate study, you can expect to spend around 17,109 GBP  (INR 18,05,444.33). These figures are bound to vary depending on your courses or the university.

Germany: One of the most important reasons why Germany is an international student favourite is because, since 2014, tuition fees have been abolished in public universities. You will still have to pay an administrative fee ranging from €150 – €1,500 (INR 13,000 – 1.3 lakhs) per semester but higher education is extremely affordable in Germany. While this is primarily applicable for undergraduate courses, most public universities also charge very minimal tuition for master’s programmes as well. However, there are some exceptions. Executive programmes and post-professional programmes typically have a tuition fee. MBAs, for instance, have tuition fees ranging from 13,000 to about 42,000 euros.

If you are enrolling in a private university, you can expect to pay €10,000 – €20,000 per year, which converts to approximately INR 10 – 20 lakhs per annum.

Winner: If you are considering only the cost of studying, Germany is the clear winner. You will invest a lot less in the Deutschland when compared to the UK.

2. Language Barriers

UK: It is a statement of the obvious that English is the official language of the United Kingdom. As a student from India who has attended English medium schools, proving your proficiency in English need not necessarily be an arduous task.

Germany: Only in the last decade or so, German universities have begun offering a handful of programmes completely in English, designed specifically for international students. This is also primarily applicable at the postgraduate level. Otherwise, courses are taught in German. It means that you must invest a significant amount of time to ensure you can, not just communicate in basic German, but also understand technical jargon in the language. Most universities require you to show proof of proficiency in English and German (the level might vary depending on the medium of instruction).

You will also need to know the language to have a fuller life in the country. You can get by with minimal German in large cities such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg but will need to communicate in the language in smaller cities such as Stuttgart, Dresden or Aachen.

Winner: The UK, as there are no language barriers. However, knowledge of a foreign language can also be a major advantage in the global economic landscape.

3. Quality of Education

UK: The academic heritage and renown of the UK needs no separate validation. Two of the oldest and world-class universities are located here – The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Besides these two giants, most of the universities in the UK have a long standing history of providing well-rounded higher education to its students. In addition to being one of the best countries for higher education, the UK also has a significantly higher number of universities when compared to Germany. It means that your prospects of getting to the UK are better.

Here are the top 10 universities in the UK according to 2023 QS World University Rankings.

S.No World Ranking University
1 2 University of Cambridge
2 4 University of Oxford
3 6 Imperial College London
4 8 UCL
5 15 University of Edinburgh
6 28 University of Manchester
7 37 King’s College
8 56 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
9 61 University of Bristol
10 64 University of Warwick

Germany: While not carrying the same legacies as England, German universities have built a reputation for themselves across the world. With the highest GDP in Europe, Germany is at the forefront of the technological and innovation race in the western world. The universities provide state of the art infrastructure and inspire their students to push the boundaries of knowledge and research.

Top 10 universities in Germany, according to QS World University Rankings

S.No World Ranking University
1 49 Technical University of Munich
2 59 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
3 65 Universität Heidelberg
4 115 Freie Universität Berlin
5 131 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
6 141 KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
7 147 RWTH Aachen University
8 158 Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)
9 169 Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
10 189 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

The German higher education system also gives you the choice between hochschule and university. Hochschulen are institutions at post-secondary level offering hands-on learning, where you split your time – 50% of it is spent on gaining practical experience while the remaining is spent on theory. Universities offer a more academic, research-based and theoretical approach to subjects.


The UK, because of its university rankings. However, both countries are popular study destinations for different courses. The competition to be enrolled in German universities is also tougher for two reasons: 1. Germany has fewer universities than the UK. 2. Since the practice of no tuition fee has been initiated in the public universities, the number of applicants have increased.

4. Duration of Study

UK: Undergraduate programmes are typically 3 years long. The one exception is Scotland where many programmes are designed for 4 years. A master’s degree in the UK is 1 year long.

Germany: Most undergraduate programmes in Germany are also 3 years long with a few exceptions. However, postgraduate courses are typically 2 years long.

Winner: A tie. It depends on your personal preference and how intensive or spaced out you would like your courses to be. With the UK you can begin working earlier. In Germany, you can spend more time on your research and spread out your courses.

5. Cost of Living

UK: According to the British Council, except for London, the average cost of living is about £1,100 (INR 1,16,106.16) per month. If you are living in London, you can add another £200-300 to your monthly expenses. Under the NHS basic healthcare is also free for international students.

Germany: Living costs in Germany are lower than that of the UK. The German government has stipulated that an international student aiming to get a German visa should maintain a minimum of 11,208 euros in a blocked account. That translates to about €934 a month. Most living cost estimates published by universities also range between €800 – €1,000 (INR 78,000 – 1 lakh). With health insurance, you will have access to one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

Winner: Germany

6. Student visa and work while you study

UK: You will need a UK student visa (previously known as Tier 4 visa). It costs about £360 (~ INR 38,000) to apply and is not often granted to part-time courses. The processing time is typically 3 weeks.
Under this visa, you can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week when the semester is in progress and 40 hours during vacation. The national minimum wage is £10.42 (INR 1,099.84) per hour.

Germany: If you have received a letter of acceptance from a German university, then you must apply for a German Student Visa. If you are considering visiting the university or entering Germany to undertake an entrance exam, then it is the Student Applicant Visa. The visa fee is 75 EUR (~INR 7,000). On arrival, you must register with the Alien Registration Office in the German city within two weeks to get your residence permit. The processing time is longer and can take up to 3 months.

Under this visa, you can work up to 120 full days or 240 half-days a year. 8 hours of work is considered a full day. For the sake of comparison, it comes up to approximately 18 hours a week. The minimum wage is €12 (INR 1,091)/ hour.

There is no winner in this category. The immigration procedures of your destination country must be followed.

7. Post-Study Work Visa

UK: On completion of your study, you can take the Graduate Immigration route and stay in the UK for up to two years and work or look for work. There is no limit on salary and therefore offers flexibility. You are eligible to apply on completion of both bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes. On completion of the two years, you can upgrade to a Tier 2 Skilled Visa under the sponsorship of the organisation that you work for.

Germany: On graduation, you can apply for a Residence Permit that lasts 18 months. This period is given to you to look for employment. If you are a highly skilled worker, have a postgraduate degree or professional training and earn over €56,400/year, you can apply for a EU Blue card. It is a short pathway from there to permanent residency in any of the European Union nations.

8. Career Opportunities

Both Germany and Britain are two bustling nations with two of the top GDPs in Europe. At the international level, they are important players, especially in the field of technology, finance, development and innovation. That said, the job market is extremely competitive in both nations.

The UK is slightly less stable because of Brexit. However, opportunities in the two countries also depend upon the field you are in. Some jobs are easier than other, depending on skills, as there are is a severe skill shortage in both countries in different domains. Engineers, for example, are in high demand in the UK while Germany is in need of social and healthcare professionals.

When it comes to average salaries, as absolute figures, the UK’s is slightly higher, at about 12%. But, considering the cost of living, Germany has the better income-cost ratio. Ultimately, your career is dependent on your qualification, your skills, your experience and at what level you can pitch yourself.

One significant advantage that Germany offers is that, once you have the EU PR, you can also find work in Austria, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium or any of the other EU nations.

9. Culture

UK: The United Kingdom is made of four different countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This makes its culture extremely diverse. Be it history, sports, music or the UK pub culture, life in the UK as an international student can be full of rich experiences.

Germany: Be it classical music, sausages, sports or beer, Germany is also a nation rich in culture. The expanse of the country also allows you to explore all kinds of things – from urban life to idyllic suburbs and wilderness.

Winner: Germany. There are absolutely no judgments being passed on a nation’s culture here. Germany is the winner here because of its work culture. Germans are known for maintaining work life balance and generally frown upon overtimes. This might not be the case with many organisations in the UK.

10. Weather

While both these nations are located in similar climatic zones, German weather is more manageable entirely because it is more predictable and moderate when compared to the UK. It is a common thing in Great Britain to expect unexpected rains at any point in time.

Winner: A Tie

Both countries have their own set of pros and cons and it is impossible and impractical to choose, based on general advantages and disadvantages. These are to help you mentally prepare for what to expect when you go to the country of your choosing. However, if you run through the parameters with a specific course and university in mind, you will be able to judge which of the two is better suited for you.

How is campus life in each country?

Let us take a look at how your campus life will be as a UK and German student.

UK Germany
Time Spent on Campus Typically 3 years for UG and 1 year for PG programmes 3 years for UG and 2 years for Master’s
Nature of Study
  • Is typically theory oriented with emphasis on depth.
  • You will choose your course before entry and continue to specialise.
  • You can choose between a practical and a more academic/ research-based approach to your discipline.
  • Hochschule offers vocational/ professional training while universities confer traditional degrees.
Food and Accommodation
  • Study halls are a popular choice of accommodation in the UK. The rooms are typically meant for individuals, giving you privacy.
  • In most universities, food is not part of the accommodation and students are often left to fend for themselves.
  • A number of off-campus options are also available.
  • Student Halls of Residence (Studentenwohnheim) are the most common option.
  • Food and self-catering facilities are available.
  • A number of off-campus options are also available.
Clubs and Extracurricular Activities
  • Most universities have a large number of lively and active societies (Like the Debating Society at Oxford or Cambridge which have a reputation of their own)
  • However, due to the emphasis placed on the depth, extracurricular activities are not as big as they are in the US. They are typically treated as positive distractions or breaks from academia.
  • There are many events and festivals organised throughout the year.
  • Most German universities have clubs/ associations in the following categories
    • Study
    • Outdoor activity
    • International student groups
    • Sports/ Athletics
Work while you study
  • Full-time students can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time, irrespective of whether the job is paid or unpaid.
  • 120 full days or 240 half-days a year. (approximately 18 hours a week)
Social Life
  • Nightlife and the UK pub culture is a a big part of social like in the UK.
  • Easier to socialise – people in the UK love to go out, especially in cities like London.
  • Germany has a conservative approach to socialising.
  • The transition from peers to friends can be a slow process, especially if you are not comfortable with the language.

Winner: UK

Reminder, this is an opinion and not a fact. The UK has more to offer in terms of socialising on campus and student life beyond academics. It is more diverse than most German cities, allowing you to blend in and gain a more wholesome international perspective.

What are the career opportunities in the UK vs Germany?

Let us make one thing clear. Neither country guarantees a job on completion of your degree. The onus is on you to find the right job best suited to your career plan, within the terms of your visa. That said, here are some of the important facts to consider.

UK Germany
Unemployment rate
  • 4%
  • 5.7%
Worker Shortage
  • 11.5% of businesses are experiencing worker shortage
  • Shortage of about 2 million skilled workers
In-Demand Job Sectors
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare services (Medical practitioners, pharmacists, senior care workers)
  • Data analysts
  • Computer Science specialists (Cybersecurity, UI/ UX Designers, systems architect, web designers)
  • Accountancy and Finance specialists,
  • Graduates in the field of education
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Nursing
  • Aged and disabled care,
  • Early education professionals
  • Engineers and IT specialists
Average Salary
  • The average salary is typically less than that of professionals in Germany.
  • Higher average salaries than the UK, combined with lower cost of living.
Visa as a Student
  • UK Student Visa (Previously known as Tier 4 Visa)
  • Allows you to work for up to 20 hours a week.
  • German Student Visa
  • Allows you to work 18 hours per week.
Towards/ On Course Completion Graduate Immigration Route

  • You can stay in the UK for up to two years and work or look for work.
  • No limit on salary and therefore offers flexibility.
  • You are eligible to apply on completion of both bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes.
Residence Permit

  • You can live and look for jobs / work in Germany for 1.5 years.
  • You are eligible to apply on completion of both bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes.
Post Study Work Visas
  • On completion of the two year period under the Graduate Immigration Route, you can update to a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa which allows you to be sponsored by a UK employer for a period of 5 years.
  • On meeting the eligibility criteria such as being a highly skilled worker, having a postgraduate degree or professional training and earning over €56,400/year, you can apply for a EU Blue card.
  • It is a short pathway from there to permanent residency in any of the European Union nations.

Winner: Tie

The choice of country largely depends on which field you are in.

Cost of living: Which country is better ?

It is important to note that the figures shown in the table below are averages and approximations to give you a general idea. The actual costs can vary depending on your selection of courses, the universities and the city that you will be living in.

Costs per year UK Germany
Average Tuition (for an undergraduate programme) £22,200 (INR 23,43,233.40) €10,000 – €20,000 (INR 10-19.5 lakhs) in private universities. Tuition is free for all students in public universities.
Average Tuition (for postgraduate studies) £17,109 (INR 18,05,444.33) €10,000 – €20,000 (INR 10-19.5 lakhs) in private universities.
Rent (On-Campus) £4,000 (INR 4.5-5 lakhs) €2,000 – €4,000 (INR 1.8 – 3.6 lakhs)
Rent (Off-Campus shared living – monthly) London – £750 (INR 79,163.29)
Rest of UK – £560 (INR 59,018)
Munich – €600 (INR 54,589.91)
Rest of Germany ~ €400 (INR 36,393.27)
Food £1,800 – £2,200
(INR 1.8 – 2.3 lakhs)
€2,400 (INR 2.2 lakhs)
Transport £1,000 (~ INR 1 lakh) €1,200  (~ INR 1 lakh)
Health Insurance £470 (~ INR 50,000) €1,500 (INR 1.36 lakhs)
Utilities (per annum) £650 – £800 (~INR 65,000 – 85,000) €1,000 (INR 90,900)
Average Total Living Expenses (per annum) £14,400 – £16,800 (INR 15 – 18 lakhs) €11,500 – €14,000 (INR 10.5 – 13 lakhs)

Winner: Germany

While looking at average figures, Germany is cheaper than the UK. It also depends on your background, lifestyle choices and the city that you will be living in.

Courses and study duration

Courses and study duration: UK  Courses and study duration: Germany
Top Courses to Study in the UK

  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Education
  • Law
  • Business Management
  • Architecture
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities
Top Courses to Study in Germany

  • All specialisations of engineering, especially automobile
  • Business Management
  • Computer Science and IT
  • Social Sciences
Study Duration

Bachelor’s – 3 years
Master’s – 1 year

Study Duration

Bachelor’s – 3 years
Master’s – 2 years

Note: German universities follow a credit system, so a Bachelor’s could take
more than three years if the credits are not completed.

Eligibility Criteria

When it comes to admissions, both countries have their own set of requirements and both are extremely competitive. It is, therefore, your responsibility to ensure your application stands out, based on academic merit, extracurricular activities and your statement of purpose. The general eligibility criteria are as follows

UK Germany
Academic Requirements for UG Programmes Completed grade XII with the required courses. For e.g. you must have scored high in Class XII Maths to apply for a Computer Science programme. German Abitur or an equivalent. Non-EU high school diplomas must be assessed by the German Academic Exchange Service. If found insufficient, you will be invited to sign up for the preparatory courses.
Academic Requirements for Master’s Programmes
  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Some courses might require you to have work experience.
  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Some courses might require you to have work experience.
Standardised Tests
  • Some courses in some universities might have entrance exams.
  • A few applications might also require you to submit GRE/ GMAT/ MCAT scores.
  • Test AS, a test of foreign students to assess their study ability in Germany, is recommended but not mandatory for undergraduate admissions.
  • Many master’s degree programmes require GRE/ GMAT scores.
Language Proficiency Tests IELTS/ TOEFL to prove your proficiency in English English language proficiency tests –  IELTS/ TOEFL

Proof of German language certifications – DSH 2/ TestDaF-Niveaustufe 4 / Telc German C1 / DSD II / Goethe Certificate C2 / ÖSD Zertifikat C2 (Austrian Language Diploma C2)


As a student applying from India, it is also important to look into scholarship options. Four sources should always be considered when looking into financial aid:

  • Indian government scholarships for students going abroad
  • Government scholarships of your destination country
  • University scholarships
  • Scholarships from external sources such as charitable trusts and philanthropic organisations.
UK Government Scholarships Germany Government Scholarships
  • Chevening Scholarships
  • Commonwealth Masters Scholarships
  • Commonwealth Fellowship Plan
  • Global Study Awards
  • GREAT Scholarships India
  • British Council Scholarships for women in STEM
  • Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarships
  • Deutschlandstipendium
  • DAAD Scholarship:
  •  Baden-Württemberg-Scholarship
  • Oskar-Karl Forster Scholarship
  • Heinrich Boll Scholarships in Germany for International Students
  • Erasmus scholarships for international students

Conclusion: Applying to universities in UK or Germany

Overall winner: A Tie!

It is impossible to categorically state that one country is better than the other (unless of course it comes down to the tuition fee!). Each nation has its own pros and cons. Ultimately, the choice of country when you are looking at the UK vs Germany should be dependent on the course, the university and the return on investment. Your ultimate choice is based on which department and school are best suited for your career needs. Students choose one country over the other for a variety of reasons and for what makes sense to them, based on personal factors as well. Some choose Canada over Germany as well.

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