Helpdesk issues- from application to post-admission

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NEW - A walkthrough for the application portal - NEW

Due to popular demand and lots of emails on this matter we will be leading you step by step through the portal

The KIT application portal is slighty more complicated for non-German users, especially if you're not used to the German education system. To keep this main help desk page easier to read, the walkthrough is on an extra page "Admission portal guide"

Your visa

Visumsantrag Kay Dittner
visa application

First things first: the visa procedure

The experience of the last semesters has shown that the first big hurdle is the visa. I know that the visa process can take a long time, and for some of you it might take much longer than expected. Once your visa application leaves the embassy/consulate's visa office there is a so-called 'Schweigefrist': they will normally issue a visa after a prescribed period of three weeks and two days (= Schweigefrist / period of no objection), provided no objection has been received from the visa office in Karlsruhe. However, this is the minimum period of time required for the processing of the application.

So please start your visa application as soon as you have the admission letter!

Some of you seem to be struggling with the notoriously slow visa offices around the world. My offer is that I can try to intervene at the Foreign Affairs offices if you allow me to forward your key data: the reference number you got for the waiting list and your passport number. For data protection reasons, I need your written consent to do this, e.g. as e-mail. Please note that this is only a service for our international students here at the BGU department!
Also make sure you are well prepared for the visa interview: have at least basic knowledge of Germany and Karlsruhe, KIT and your study programme. If you can’t answer the simplest of questions then the visa officer may doubt your intention to come here to study and could reject the visa application.

Don't despair if it takes a while. Once you have everything else sorted out, you will be ready when the visa is issued.

***New***
I get a lot of applicants from different countries complaining about having to transfer the study fee for two semesters instead of one. Your KIT-admission letter asks for the fee for one semester only. Your consulate/embassy asks for two semesters' worth. This is due to the way they interpret the law: you need to provide sufficient funds for one whole year. One part is the Blocked Account, the other is the study fee for one year. Which is the study fee for two semesters, i.e. 3000€. There's no way we can influence their interpretation (I've tried several times) and unfortunately you'll have to go with what they say as they are the office issuing your visa. Depending on how it is received here you will get the second half reimbursed or carried over to the next semester.

If you want legal certainty on the details, the Federal Ministry of Justice has an English version of the "Act on the Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory Residence Act" online.

Costs

Let's base the calculations on the summer semester 2024 for non-EU citizens and start with the fees:

Each semester will cost €1500 in study fees plus the semester fee for administration, Studierendenwerk (the institution that runs the dining halls & cafeterias, students housing, counselling, etc.) and student union (covering for students' concerns) of €190. So round about €1700 per semester. Say your masters course takes a regular four semesters then multiply that by four which brings the total cost up to around €6800.
In addition, you need a Blocked Account with €11208 with a max. payout of €934 per month. This is is obligatory as non-EU member to get a visa and to serve as minimum living cost during the first of the two years. Let's double that to around €22420 as you'll be here for two years and hope that covers all sorts of costs - travel to and from Germany and excursion costs excluded.

Summed up we get a grand total of €30k for two years, i.e. four semesters for a master degree, a bachelor degree would sum up to about €45k for six semesters. Consider adding an extra semester or two just in case you run into delays.

The semester fee is adjusted each semester and will increase by a few Euros. The €1500 tuition fee remains constant.

Details on the fees are listed on this page at the International Students Office and there's more on 'financing your studies' further down this page.

scholarship applications Kay Dittner

Language certificates

If you are admitted to a study programme that requires a language certificate, you will need to provide proof when you enrol. It is compulsory for the visa application if the admission letter does not state that your language certificate has been approved.
If you need a certificate or have a certificate under par and have not uploaded anything to your application, you'll have a small note in your application portal starting page. In any case, please do not take the test at the very last minute. If the admission regulations require a TOEFL with 90 points, then 88 points are not enough and you will not be enrolled. The same goes for IELTS results: falling slightly below the requirements with, for example, a 5 in one part is not good enough. There is no tolerance range.

And because it's often ignored: There is no possibility to submit test results after enrolling. If you come to KIT and want to enrol, you must have a sufficient test result. And please remember: test results often take two or even four weeks after the actual test.

Experience shows: Don't underestimate the timeline for the language certificate.

If you can't enrol then you won't be able to register in the online campus system, file for class assignments, etc. If left too late, you'll also get in trouble for being here on a student visa and not being able to register as student. That and not being a student leaves you without the financial advantages of being able to file for a dorm, student tickets, reduced dining hall prices and other goodies.

language certificates Kay Dittner
Language certificates

What can you do in the meantime?

12 To-Dos Kay Dittner
12 to-dos

Accept your study place! This comes at no cost. Once you start the enrolment process, you secure your place at KIT, more options open up and you can push your deadlines back a few weeks, making it easier if you arrive a little late.
You can then enrol even before you receive your visa (this changed in early 2023)!
If you fully enrol then you can arrive at any time during the semester.

The International Office has a great page on what you need to prepare. The way to get there is through the mouseover drop-down menu: Start with the KIT International Office https://www.intl.kit.edu/english/index.php and follow the top menu Incoming Students -> Degree-Seeking -> Prior to Studies and then ->Enrolment.

Best hint: This list with 12 to-dos is essential and will help you through your first steps. And it's concisely packed in a handy PDF.

KIT's International Office has lots of other helpful advice online - I hope you've already found it (e.g. the preparation page). They also have an online consultation hour (returning soon) - feel free to use this service.

Accomodation

Try to find accomodation before you get to Karlsruhe. Hotels and short-lease apartments are very expensive if you arrive and need a place to stay at short notice.

Already apply for housing at the Studierendenwerk. And also use their web pages to search for private housing offers in case the student dorms are full (highly likely). The private offers are mainly local places within a decent range around Karlsruhe and the offers are updated daily.

Remember Karlsruhe has a great tram & bus system that has good connections to the surrounding areas. Commuting twenty to fifty minutes isn't unusual for a cheaper room on the outskirts or catchment area of Karlsruhe -> go to transportation and have a look at the KVV map and get an idea of how far out you can look. Also think about the possibilities you have if you get yourself a JugendticketBW ticket: commuting from Pforzheim/Baden-Baden/Offenburg/Bruchsal/Vaihingen(Enz) or anywhere along the local train lines (REx, IREx, MEXx) to Karlsruhe.

Other helpful links to dorms in Karlsruhe:

And if all else fails and you find yourself without anywhere to stay then the AStA and Studierendenwerk have a so-called 'Notunterkunft', an emergency place at the very beginning of the semester only (!).

StuWe Wohnheimsantrag Kay Dittner
Studierendenwerks Karlsruhe dorm application

Health insurance

In short: Every ongoing student must submit an insurance certificate of a German public health insurance at the latest when you enrol. This certificate provides information on whether you are covered by a health insurance or whether you are exempt from insurance, are exempt from the obligation to have insurance or are not subject to compulsory insurance. Please note that before enrolling, you must decide on the type of health insurance (private or public/statutory) -  a change is usually not possible during the course of your studies! Full details are on the International Students Office's page. If you're not sure what to do then contact the insurance office. Some offer online chats or have international call lines.

For Germans, EU-citizens and citizens from countries that have a social security agreement with Germany (e.g. Switzerland or Turkey):
At the moment the info on health insurance at KIT's Business Unit Studium und Lehre (here) is only in German so here is my translation. And as it's quite a lengthy amount of info, I've hid it under this neat drop-down:

Health insurance (D, EU, TR, CH...)
Based on the Student Health Insurance Notification Ordinance (SKV-MV), every applicant enrolling at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology must provide proof of health insurance or an exemption from compulsory insurance. The public German health insurer sends this information directly to us electronically. Please request the "Meldegrund 10 für das Karlsruher Institut für Technologie" from the public German health insurer of your choice. The insurance card or a written membership certificate is not sufficient.
There are different certification and notification obligations for health insurers and for universities according to §199a para.2 to 5 SGB V (German Social Security Code) to adequately verify, assess and implement health insurance for students. These are:
  • Reporting obligations for health insurers:
    • M10: Insurance status (compulsory or exempt).
    • M11: Start of insurance after changing the health insurer
    • M12: Delayed payment of fees
    • M13: Settlement of outstanding fees
  • Reporting obligations for universities:
    • M20: Start of studies with semester start and day of enrollment
    • M30: End of studies with end of semester and day of de-registration/completion
Who is responsible for the confirmation towards the university?

German citizens
Please request a "Meldegrund 10 für das Karlsruher Institut für Technologie" from your public health insurance. The health insurer reports and confirms to the university whether you are

  • insured with the health insurer as an independent member or are covered through your parents (family) insurance, or
  • exempt from the statutory insurance obligation, e.g. due to a private health insurance. You are free to choose which public health insurance should report this for you. It is important that you apply for the exemption within 3 months after the semester starts, otherwise you will automatically be subject to compulsory insurance and will have to pay for public health insurance. (§8 Abs. 2 SGB V).

Please note: any form of health insurance other than student public health insurance must be checked by a public health insurer. If your health insurance provides sufficient insurance coverage for studying in Germany, a public health insurer can issue a confirmation of exemption from compulsory health insurance on your behalf.
This procedure is obligatory as it is based on the federal Student Health Insurance Notification Ordinance (SK-VMV).

EU citizens
Applicants from EU countries who have a European Health Insurance Card do not need additional insurance in Germany. You only need to present your European Health Insurance Card to a public health insurer of your choice here in Germany and will receive a confirmation ("Meldung 10 an das Karlsruher Institut für Technologie") that you are exempt from compulsory insurance.

Citizens from countries that have a social security agreement with Germany (e.g. Switzerland or Turkey)
If you have public health insurance in your home country, ask your insurance agent for a form certifying your health insurance coverage abroad. The forms have different names depending on the country of origin, e.g. E-111, AT 11, ATN11 or BH6. The form can then be presented to a German public health insurer to obtain a confirmation ("Meldung 10 an das Karlsruher Institut für Technologie") of exemption from compulsory insurance.

Prepare for studying

All module handbooks at our department have a detailed explanation of the structure of the study programme, which content is offered, etc. They also explain the technical side of selecting modules, how many credit points are needed, how to register for exams, when to decide you own study path, deadlines, contact people, etc.

Therefore it's strongly recommended to delve into your module handbook and work your way through the first pages. If you aren't familiar with the system here it will help a lot and if you get stuck you'll know who to ask.

The module handbooks are ll available on the central web pages of the SLE-unit. They have a comprehensive list of all study programmes. Just chose your programme and klick on the appropriate dropdown menu for the module handbook. If your study programme is taught in English then there'll be an English version of the module handbook. These handbooks are updated every semester so make sure you have the right one.

There's also the ZSB, the Student Advisory Service at KIT (ZSB as in German it's called Zentrale Studien­beratung). They offer online study preparation sessions and other sessions like 'Master your Master'. The best thing is to see what they are offering on their web page https://www.sle.kit.edu/english/wirueberuns/zsb.php. You can also see which ones they offer in English.

Arriving on campus

Ehrenhof, Campus Süd Kay Dittner
Ehrenhof, Campus Süd

You will soon notice that almost all locations on campus (especially Campus Süd, the main campus in town) have a building number, not an address. Sometimes even the lecture halls are numbered or at least they have a name. The best way to find your way round is to get together with other students and ask them. The building numbers are all listed on the campus map, and once you find the building, you will often find a map inside pointing to the different lecture halls or rooms.

When should I preferably arrive?

The year is split into two semesters. Summer semester lasts from April to September and the winter semester from October to March. So technically the semester starts on the 1st April and the 1st October. The lecture periods are shorter as to leave time for exams, study papers, rest, etc. Lectures start about two weeks into the semester but every semester starts with an orientation phase for new students. The International Students Office, the student representatives and other units have "Welcome Days" or an "O-Phase" (Orientierungsphase - I guess you can understand the German word) with guides on how to study and what to start with. As this is highly recommended we suggest that you arrive in the first weeks of April/October to make sure you don't have to dive in straight away with lectures in a system you haven't got your head round yet. You will need time to adapt to the uni system and life here in Germany.

Which leads us to the question: what happens if I arrive late? And how late is too late?

What about late arrivals?

If your arrival on campus is delayed (visa bother, etc.), there are several phases that involve different bureaucratic steps:

The semester starts on 1st April for the summer semester and 1st October for the winter semester. You are enrolled for the entire time, no matter when you arrive here in the semester. You are officially a student during that time - this is important for insurances (e.g. health insurance), bus & tram tickets, and other student benefits.

If you arrive at the beginning of the semester, you can take part in the different orientation events organised by the student councils, the AStA (student union), the Studierendenwerk, the KIT library and the International Office during the first weeks until the lectures start. These events are rarely obligatory, but meeting others, all the information and workarounds, campus & city tours, etc., that you'll get there is something you can't catch up with online. This is an important start to your studies here and will help you a lot.

If you're a little later and arrive at the beginning of the lectures, then you'll drop right into the lectures and seminars. You can hook up with your fellow students and learn a lot that way. However, you will have to take care of the essential formalities yourself. You can read up on most things in the online KIT learning platform ILIAS and, if necessary, ask the lecturers or their assistants whether and where you still have to register. Each subject or institute handles this differently so beware.

If you arrive in the middle of the lecture period, it will be more difficult. Many lectures are well into the subject and registration deadlines may have passed. If you can foresee that it will take longer, then try to find out what online offers there are, or whether you can still register for MINT (=STEM) or language courses at KIT that can tide you over.

If things don't go smoothly at all and you only make it here in the last weeks of lectures or even later, then check out the regulations for reimbursement of tuition fees - more on this in the section 'Financing your studies'. At KIT you have a great team in the International Office to help you; at the department you have our office and there are mentors for the study programmes themselves. Please contact these people for advice.

Adapting to life here in Germany

Authorities

As you already know, authorities at different levels all have their own way of working. Some can be quite stubborn, others want yet another form filled in. But most are friendly. If you get stuck, feel free to come our office and I'll see how we can work things out.

Please remember to have ID on you at all times and preferably a copy of your visa status. If, on the odd chance, you do get stopped and checked by the police, you should be able to identify yourself. And despite open borders around Europe, always have your documents on you when you cross borders  (I can't emphasise this enough).

German grammar sheet Kay Dittner
German grammar

Everyday life

KIT has special offers for international students who are struggling with everyday life here in Karlsruhe. There is a lot of help available and I would encourage you to reach out if you feel like things are getting too much for you.

A favourite is the international buddy programme at the International Office. They offer meetings such as an International Café where you can meet other students from all over KIT in a friendly atmosphere, inform yourself of all sorts of topics on student life and generally relax and take your mind off work. They also offer board game nights and excursions to nearby sights and places around the Black Forest. All of this is highly recommended! For more information, check out their website and log in to their programme in ILIAS to register for the events and get regular updates.

KIT often has small events or meetings for students who are having problems adapting to life here. Rest assured that you're not the only one struggling and reach out for help.

If you feel you need a more personal advice because you are stuck in your studies, have  financial trouble or an expiring residence permit then you can contact the Welcome-group. And you are always welcome to stop by our office, sit down and tell me what is bothering you, and we will find a way to resolve it over a cup of tea.

tea @ 10.81 Kay Dittner
tea @ 10.81

Financing your studies

Scholarships & grants

The KIT International Office has its own page on financial aid with a list of foundations and organisations that offer grants in the form of individual scholarships. There are also ecclesiastical and party-affiliated foundations in Germany and the EU that offer scholarships. A search for  “Stiftung” & “Stipendium” will help. And then there's global players such as the World Bank, the UN an its subdivisions, and other international institutions. To get an idea there's the ScholarshipTab page with an very international database.

Career start BW has information on studying here in the federal state Baden Württemberg (hence the BW) and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) offers a neat and extensive database with all scholarships connected with Germany.

Finding a job

You'll find HiWi (=student assistant) jobs in the different institutes. KIT has a Jobbörse (=job market) - if you click on "show only KIT jobs" above the search bar and you'll see all the "working student" offers. Most institutes also have a (digital) bulletin board where new positions are advertised. A HiWi job can tie in with the content of your studies or give you insight into new research fields at KIT. It could also lead to your thesis! Check with your visa regulation and conditions as to how many hours your are allowed to work. Your visa might have something like this: [citation of the appropriate paragraphs § 16b ...AufenthG]: Study at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in degree program XY. Employment of up to 120 days or 240 half days and part-time student employment permitted. Self-employment not permitted." If you're employed outside of those boundaries you risk being fined and having your visa revoked.

Study fees for non-EU students

If you arrive very late in the semester or are limited in your ability to study due to other so-called 'undue hardships', then there is the option to apply for a reimbursement of the study fee. The form is on this page and Mr. Mohrhardt can answer detailed questions. The semester fees remain unaffected, they have to be paid in any case.

Transportation

Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof Kay Dittner
Hauptbahnhof
Durlacher Tor (U) Kay Dittner
Durlacher Tor (U)
JugendBW Ticket Kay Dittner
Tickets
NextBikes Kay Dittner
NextBikes
Trains

The DB - Deutsche Bahn runs most trains in Germany and you can book tickets online. Be aware that early-booking discounts are often bound to a specific train. Karlsruhe's main train station has fast links to almost all major cities with none or one stop, depending on the time of day. DB trains schedules are updated live online (the DB-app is handy). And when you book you'll see if they expect the train to be full. Reserving a seat can come in handy, too.

Other train services run locally and are often integrated into the DB online schedules and booking system.

Trams & busses

You'll often see the abbreviation ÖPNV = "öffentlicher Personennahverkehr" which translates as "public transportation".

The Karlsruhe Transport Association KVV (Karlsruher Verkehrsverbund) organises local public transport with its trams and busses around Karlsruhe and the region. It reaches half way to Heidelberg and down south towards Freiburg, from Heilbronn in the east to the French border an across to Rheinland-Palatinate in the west. It offers a high train frequency with operating times between 5am and midnight. Here's a link to the network map for the trams and bus services to give you an idea of how far the system reaches.

The stops relevant for BGU students at Campus South are Kronenplatz and Durlacher Tor. Both have an underground ("U" after the name) and overground stop.

Tickets

Here's the great change: there is a D-Ticket JugendBW - a discounted 'Germany ticket' for all pupils, apprentices and students (up to 27 years old). Of course that's the ticket to go for as you'll get:

  • a ticket valid throughout Germany (that's new, it used to be for the state Baden-Württemberg only)
  • it costs €365 per year - so only €1 per day!
  • the ticket is an annual subscription.
  • and after the first year, it can be cancelled on a monthly basis.

That's the cheapest price ever and you don't need to study the different tariffs/rates/fares every time you travel. You can get more info at the KVV and DB customer centres in Karlsruhe and at any larger train station.

Note, however, that not all DB trains can be used with it. The express trains and long-distance trains are not included! If you have the time though, you can travel across Germany with local transport. Remember to carry proof, i.e. your student card & ID!

Bicycles

Cycling is healthy, fun and you get to see a lot of nature and the surrounding area. The cycling path network is well developed and is constantly being expanded. And there are plenty of places to park bicycles in Karlsruhe's bicycle-friendly city centre.

The Karlsruhe area has lots of Nextbikes - those are bike you can rent for short trips. You book them online on the spot and can leave them anywhere in the designated area (see the website for more). They, too, have cargo bikes and some are e-bikes. The app shows you where the nearest bikes are and let's you book ahead.

Helmets are not yet mandatory for cyclists in Germany. Nevertheless, it is advisable to wear a helmet when cycling.
Please be aware that the long pedestrian zone in Karlsruhe is a no-bike zone and they do have officers enforcing the rules and issuing on-the-spot fines. And traffic lights are for cyclists as well. Check the road traffic regulations (in Germany the StVO) for details - here's a link to a short version PDF in English published by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.

Scooters

Several firms have e-scooters scattered around Karlsruhe's inner city area. There are no-go zones and slow-go zones in the pedestrian zones. The apps will tell you more.

Cars

AStA, the student union, offers rental cars at good rates or students. There are also local and the usual global rental car services. Please be aware of the regulations for foreign driving licences and the road code in Germany.

 

Out and about

Treat yourself and get out and about while you are here and explore the area and Europe. Karlsruhe's at the north tip of the renowned Black Forest and within half an hour by tram you can be wandering up to small castles, waterfalls, lakes, and observation platforms overlooking the Rhine valley. Within an hour (by tram & bus) you could be on the highest point of the northern Black Forest (Hornisgrinde), in Heidelberg or enjoying French cuisine in Wissembourg.

By train you can be in

  • Stuttgart and Frankfurt within an hour,

  • Cologne in two hours,

  • Munich, Nuremberg, Paris, Luxembourg and Zurich in under three hours,

  • Brussels in under five hours,

  • Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Salzburg, Amsterdam and Lyon in under six hours,

  • Milan (Italy) in under seven hours,

  • Vienna and Prague in eight hours.

 

The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

– Anthony Bourdain

What I found appealing in life abroad was the inevitable sense of helplessness it would inspire. Equally exciting would be the work involved in overcoming that helplessness. There would be a goal involved, and I liked having goals.

– David Sedaris

Alumni issues

Transcripts / Certificates

Master/Bachelor

If you want to send transcripts and/or certificates in sealed envelopes to other institutions or administrations, you will find the appropriate form on the SLE pages (of course there is a form for that!):

This is how you get there: follow the drop-down menu https://www.sle.kit.edu -> After Your Studies

Or simply follow https://www.sle.kit.edu/english/nachstudium/6545.php

Diploma / Pre-Diploma

Here is the situation for those of you who completed degree programs with study and examination regulations from before the Bologna reform, i.e. which did not have the Bachelor or Master structure and modularization with assigned ECTS credits:
For the study programs before the Bologna Reform, there is no traceability of the study achievements in the individual semesters at KIT, so that no one can provide an overview similar to that provided by a "Transcript of Records". However, it is possible to have the "KIT Archive" send you certified copies of the study and examination regulations as well as the study plan and thus have the study regulations confirmed up to the time of the examinations . Your matriculation certificate and your diplomas can be certified, too. The fee for this is approximately €25.
Documents on intermediate examination certificates are usually not considered to be of historical value and therefore have not been archived in the KIT Archives. Therefore, KIT Archives cannot issue certified copies of your intermediate diploma. However, there is a small chance that documents related to your intermediate examination certificate are still available at KIT's Student Service Office.

KIT Archives can also prepare a qualification certificate for you in English. This will indicate your course of study/major, the start and end dates of your studies, and your degree with the date of graduation. The cost of this is approximately €30.

All services offered by the archive are listed here.

The KIT alumni network

Keep In Touch! is the KIT alumni network.

It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.

– Eric Roth