Public universities in Germany for the most part do not charge tuition fees, and neither does Ruhr West. However, all Ruhr West students are required to pay the following fees at the beginning of each semester:
Tuition and fees (for summer 2023)
Student government fee: a financial contribution to support the elected student bodies, e.g. the student parliament
Student services fee: charged for using the social services maintained by Studierendenwerk Essen-Duisburg, such as dining halls, cafeterias, residence halls or sports facilities
Semester ticket fee: The semester ticket fee allows Ruhr West students to use local public transport at no extra cost. The ticket covers trips to Essen, Duisburg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and many other cities in the region.
NRW ticket fee: The NRW ticket allows Ruhr West students to use buses, local trains and regional trains throughout the state of North Rhine-Westphalia at no extra cost.
Total semester fees
International students in Germany are required to have sufficient health insurance coverage. At Ruhr West, this means you will have to take out health insurance in Germany and present proof of your coverage before you are allowed to enrol.
The requirement to take out health insurance in Germany may only be waived if your home country insurance is also valid in Germany and is recognised as sufficient here. This applies, first and foremost, to the countries of the European Union. If you are from one of these countries, you will have to present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or forms E 128/E111 from your home insurance provider to AOK (a major German public health insurance provider) for approval.
If this exception does not apply to you, you are required to take out health insurance in Germany - which involves additional costs to consider. In Germany, there are two types of health insurance: public health insurance and private health insurance. As a student, you are eligible for public health insurance at the lowest monthly rates, which are typically around €75-80 per month, regardless of which provider you choose.
Cost of Living
Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, leisure activities, cultural events and so forth are generally equivalent to the EU average. Compared to other popular study destinations such as France, Britain and the Netherlands, prices are actually quite low.
Moreover, university students in Germany can make use of various special rates. Public theatres, museums and opera houses, for example, frequently offer discounted tickets. Sometimes theatres, public libraries and other cultural facilities are free of charge. Daily papers and magazines are also cheaper with a student subscription.
Furthermore, all Ruhr West students can take advantage of the so-called 'semester ticket', a fantastic deal that allows them to ride buses, trams and local and regional trains throughout the entire state of North Rhine-Westphalia, including destinations as far as Cologne, Bonn and Aachen! The semester ticket is a mandatory part of the semester fees collected at the beginning of each semester.
Overall, the average cost of living in the Ruhr region for students who don’t own a car is €675-700 per month, including rent – a little above the national average of €673 per month, according to recent statistics. How much you will actually spend depends on your interests and lifestyle, of course. Students tend to spend most of their money during September and October, when the winter semester starts (semester fees, deposits for accommodation, books, supplies etc.). Plan to bring some extra funds to cover these initial costs.
International students at Ruhr West are allowed to work part time, just as many German students do – often as waiters, delivery drivers, bike couriers and the like. Keep in mind, however, that working part-time during the semester might delay your studies, especially if you are new to Ruhr West and university life in Germany. Furthermore, German immigration law requires you to prove upfront that you will have enough money to support yourself while in Germany. In other words, you should not depend on finding temporary employment to finance your studies.
Depending on your nationality, you may also face a number of formal restrictions compared to German students. No work permit is needed if you are an EU citizen or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. As long as you have registered with the local Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt), you can be employed under the same conditions as German students.
Students who do not come from any of the abovementioned countries are only allowed to work for a maximum of 120 full or 240 half days per calendar year. This also includes unpaid internships. Any work exceeding these limits must be approved by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) and the local Aliens’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde). Jobs related to higher education can usually exceed the time limit of 120 days, but must be reported to the Aliens’ Registration Office. The office then decides if a job can be classified as student employment and is therefore not subject to the above ruling.
Scholarships and financial aid
As a general rule, scholarships for international first-year students who plan to study for a full bachelor’s degree are not available in Germany. After all, German universities do not charge tuition. Likewise, specific Ruhr West scholarships for outstanding first-year students awarded in cooperation with businesses, foundations and private individuals as part of the HRW Talents Programme are restricted to German citizens or permanent residents.
But if you come to Ruhr West as an international visiting or exchange student, you can apply to a number of organisations for grants and scholarships. Aside from the ERASMUS programme for European students, the most extensive range of scholarships for German and international students, postgraduates and researchers is offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). For further information, contact the international office staff at your home university or the DAAD regional office/information centre responsible for your country.
Funding for a full course of studies from the first to the last semester is not possible with the DAAD or with most other organisations. To qualify for financial support, applicants must demonstrate above-average academic ability in their chosen field of study. Personal or social circumstances only play a minor role.
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