Here you'll find help on
Coming soon: a walkthrough for the application portal
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. Covid has slowed down the systems even more, and more people are travelling after the pandemic.
So please start your visa application as soon as you have the admission letter!
Some of you also have to go through the APS centres, which also seem to be struggling. My offer is that I can try to intervene at the Foreign Affairs offices if you allow me to forward your data (name, APS unique token number) to them. This also goes for the notoriously slow visa offices around the world. In those cases I'd need 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 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.
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.
Another issue is trying to get a written statement for financial help. Sponsors will want a list of the costs for your stay. So for the winter semester 2023-24 for non-EU citizens:
Let's 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 €180. So round about €1680 per semester. Say your masters course takes a regular 4 semesters then multiply that by 4 which brings the total cost up to around €6800.
In addition, you need a Blocked Account with €11208 with a payout max 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 as you'll be here for two years and hope that covers all sorts of costs. Travel to and from Germany excluded.
Summed up we get a grand total of €30k for two years, i.e. four semesters.
What can you do in the meantime?
Accept your study place and enrol. Yes, you can enrol even before you receive your visa (this changed in early 2023)! 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. If you fully enrol then you can arrive at any time.
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 do-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 every Thursday afternoon - feel free to use this service.
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.
Remember Karlsruhe has a great tram & bus system that has good connections to the surrounding areas. Commuting thirty 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:
- International Department Hostel, KIT
- Augustin-Bea-Haus (ABH) and Reinhold-Schneider-Haus (RSH)
- Hermann-Ehlers-Kolleg (HEK)
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(!).
In short: Every applicant 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 your studies! Full details are on the International Students Office's page.
At the moment the info on health insurance at the 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. This is for Germans, EU-citizens and citizens from countries that have a social security agreement with Germany (e.g. Switzerland or Turkey
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?
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 based on the federal Student Health Insurance Notification Ordinance (SK-VMV).
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.
Arriving on campus
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 and the International Office during the first weeks until the start of lectures. These events are rarely obligatory, but meeting others, all the information and workarounds, campus & city tours, etc., that you'll get there are something you can't catch up on 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. 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.
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 - see section Financing your studies. At KIT you have a team in the International Office to help you, at the faculty you have our office and there are mentors for the programmes themselves. Please contact these people for advice.
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 if 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).
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.
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 an extensive list on this (non-KIT) web page.
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 as to how many hours your are allowed to work.
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.
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.
Here's the great change in 2023: KVV offers a "JugendticketBW" for all students -> here's direct link . Of course that's the ticket to go for as you'll get to travel the whole of the state of Baden-Württemberg for the equivalent of one Euro per day. That's the cheapest price ever and you don't need to study the different tariffs/rates/fares every time you travel. And the best bit is: on 1st December 2023, the JugendticketBW will be replaced by a discounted Deutschland-Ticket. For 365 euros a year, you can then use public transport throughout Germany. The plan is that the subscribers will be automatically switched to the new Deutschland-Ticket, but you will be informed about this by the KVV.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Transcripts / Certificates
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
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
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