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Berlin’s universities edge closer to the global elite

High grades from international students

Berlin’s universities and colleges have a long-established, strong international profile. They are widely regarded as a magnet for the best students from all around the world – almost one in five students registered at Berlin’s state-run universities have an international background. There is, however, a major difference in comparison with Oxford or Harvard: state-run universities and colleges in Germany’s capital do not charge tuition fees. Students benefit from an excellent education, and it costs them almost nothing. In addition, Berlin’s universities and colleges offer their students first-class student exchange programs. The Humboldt University alone, the city’s biggest university, maintains exchange programs with more than 400 partner universities worldwide. Thanks to the ERASMUS+ and ERASMUS Mundus programs, large numbers of international students are able to study at one of Berlin’s universities. In doing so, they become part of a rich tradition. As early as 1810, the Humboldt University launched its teaching activities and was the first modern university in the world to follow the groundbreaking principle of unified teaching and research. Since then, more than 40 Nobel Prize winners have researched and taught at Berlin’s universities, including Albert Einstein, Max Planck and Fritz Haber.

Top international rankings for Berlin’s universities

The fact that Berlin is a great place to study is reflected in the strong reputations of the city’s universities and colleges. Every year, Times Higher Education, the influential London-based academic and university news magazine, crowns the best universities in the world. The latest ranking shows that Berlin is just as much an engine of European innovation when it comes to the education sector. Berlin’s biggest universities, the Humboldt University and the Free University (FU), have been awarded first-class rankings in international comparison. The Times Higher Education study doesn’t only assess criteria such as the quality of tuition and research, it also considers an institution’s international reputation and the frequency with which a university’s publications are cited around the world. There are also regular awards from the public sector. Together with the Technical University (TU), Berlin has three major universities with pioneering concepts for the future of education and cutting-edge research, each of which regularly receives public sector excellence awards and are recognized for offering the best study programs in Germany. The wide-ranging private sector study programs add to the mix, ensuring that every student can find the course they are looking for in Berlin.

The pulse of life outside university

Life is just attractive for students outside the city’s lecture halls. Whereas elite universities such as Oxford or Cambridge are famous for their antiquated, small-town atmospheres, Berlin is renowned for its world-class nightlife. Once the day’s learning is done, students can meet their friends at Neukölln’s rooftop Klunkerkranich bar, or in Club der Visionäre, right on the bank of the Spree River, or meet up at a performance in one of the city’s countless local theaters. Most of the universities and colleges are conveniently located in the city’s central hotspot areas. And there is much more to discover than just the world-famous Berghain or Tresor, a nightclub that attained legendary status in the 1990s. Each neighborhood has its own unique bars and nightclubs, where students flock to party until the sun comes up.