On April 30, federal minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek announced all students would be able to receive interest-free loans of up to €650 a month via state-owned development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.
“These measures are essential to prevent dropouts from international students”
Additionally, the ministry would provide students in “particularly acute emergencies” with non-repayable grants. The €100m would be distributed to students by the Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW).
Germany’s University Rectors’ Conference (HRK), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Deutsches Studentenwerk hailed the “commendable” announcement.
“It is very good and right that students in emergency situations now receive financial support,” said Joybrato Mukherjee, DAAD president.
“These measures are essential to prevent dropouts from international students in particular and to maintain Germany’s excellent reputation as a destination for foreign talent.
“We are particularly pleased that the grant solution that we proposed in mid-March is also part of the emergency relief measures.”
A survey carried out by online information portal Studying-in-Germany.org found that some nine in 10 international students in Germany have been affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic.
President of the HRK Peter-André Alt added that the federal government was “tackling a problem that is burning for many students”.
“We are grateful that those affected can now bridge the current crisis,” he said. “Even if we had hoped for such a solution for everyone, the emergency aid fund, from which direct loan-free grants can be granted, is a very commendable measure.”
President of the Deutsches Studentenwerk, Rolf-Dieter Postlep, added that the organisation will “very quickly clarify” the specific procedure with the ministry as to how assistance for students in acute emergencies should be structured.
“It is now important that the students who are in financial trouble because of the corona pandemic through no fault of their own get this help,” he said.
According to the Studying-in-Germany.org platform, a large number of international students depend on part-time jobs for living expenses. Along with affordable tuition fees, visiting students are additionally attracted to the country for work opportunities.
Students are permitted to work 120 full days or 240 half days per year, which helps with the cost of living, according to the platform.
“Two-thirds of international students choose to work part-time to cover their living expenses,” Study-in-Germany.org’s Njomza Zeqiri noted.
A further survey carried out by Studying-in-Germany.org revealed that 85% of international students have admitted that Covid-19 has affected their plans to study in Germany.
Summer semester 2020 scholarships have been postponed due to the pandemic, meaning prospective students will have to wait to re-apply the following year, the platform highlighted.
“University doors are closed and the classes moved online,” Zeqiri added.
“As per the winter semester, a nationwide decision will be made later based on what happens with the Abitur examinations this year.”