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German appeal

Why did the English speaker from Canada come to Germany to learn about North America in English? Sounds like the start of a corny joke, but many English-speaking students are flocking to German universities as a range of English language courses prove more appealing than those in the UK and the States.

Germany was recently named in an international league table as the most supportive country for overseas students. The appeal? English-speaking students never have to utter a word of German in order to complete their degrees.

As it stands, Britain ranks third in the same table, but risks losing this spot due to government policies making it harder for overseas students to study in the UK and to stay in the UK afterwards, whereas there are very few barriers for international students in Germany.

Tuition fees in Germany are significantly lower than the UK and far lower than in the US, where tuition fees can be as high as $50,000.

Germany is currently at the forefront of true internationalism in its education system, with many university lecturers being so proficient in English that an outside observer might not be able to tell who is a native speaker and who is not.

Since the cap on tuition fees in the UK has been lifted and universities can now charge up to £9000 per year, as opposed to a price in many German universities of 500 Euros per semester, will more UK-based students opt for an English-speaking degree from a German university?

It remains to be seen, although if you’re planning to trade in life in England for a German adventure, we’d recommend learning the language, as it’s a really valuable skill to bring home to the UK jobs market!

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It’s great news that the Government is going to fund the placement scheme for undergraduates studying abroad for the next year. But we must make sure that this funding doesn’t just last a year, but is long-term. What is the alternative? The UK could be in danger of developing a real language skill shortage that could compromise its position as an international business leader.

At Euro London we have seen a significant fall in fluency levels among language graduates over the past five years, largely down to a decrease in the number of people taking a year abroad. The UK already has rising University fees and fewer young people studying languages now that they are no longer compulsory. If we remove the year abroad, it would lead to the problem worsening, causing a severe lack of language talent.

With the UK operating in an increasingly global marketplace, employers need people that can communicate effectively with others around the globe. Not only does that require strong language ability, but also good cultural knowledge, and the year abroad is crucial in providing students with both of these skills. However increasing costs and student debt mean that many aren’t willing or financially able to take advantage of the experience. The UK needs to try and preserve the year abroad if it wants to remain competitive.

It’s understandable that students may be scared to put what they have learnt in the classroom into practice, or that they want to avoid the year abroad so they can graduate as quickly as possible. However the best way of securing the top jobs and start paying off those debts is to take full advantage of the year abroad to really boost their employability. Language speakers – you don’t realise how in demand you are!

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