The open structure of the university creates an excellent basis for knowledge transfer.

While I was in school, a lesson on Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helical structure of DNA taught me that DNA is the genetic material needed for the existence of life. This created an intense craving in me for becoming a Biotechnologist.

I set upon my goal to pursue Ph.D. in Germany due to two factors: the quality of science and technology available there and the short duration (3-4 years) for the doctorate degree, when compared to the period in U.S. or India (at least five years). I have got a Ph.D. position in my favourite area, “Structural Biology,” at Heinrich Heine University (HHU), Dusseldorf.

HHU is particularly attractive for collaborative research. HHU's institutes, faculty and the university hospital are located on one campus south of the city and an estimated 25,000 students study there.

HHU has five faculties (in Medicine, Life and Natural Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Economics and Business Administration, and Law, respectively), the University Hospital, the University and State Library (ULB, a regional library) and the central administration. There are many interdisciplinary and postgraduate courses available. Currently Bachelor, Master's, Ph.D. and State Examination degrees can be obtained at HHU.

The open structure of the university creates an excellent basis for knowledge transfer and cluster development. Life sciences incorporating the interdisciplinary interaction of medicine and natural sciences is a core research area.

The medium of instruction for both bachelor's and master's degree is German (Deutsche) language. Knowledge of German is a compulsory for people who want to settle over here. HHU ranks 29th among the top 40 universities (154 in total) in a survey conducted by the German Rectors' Conference and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). It also has the privilege of having a Nobel laureate, Werner Forssmann, as an honorary professor, who developed a procedure for cardiac catheterisation.

For bachelor's and master's degrees, the mode of admission involves six steps. It starts with online registration, then follows various document verifications and culminates in the final approval.

All information on application deadline, prerequisites, necessary documents and information on application procedures can be found on the HHU webpage. Regarding Ph.D., one can directly contact the HHU scientists or can apply through the international office. Various scholarships are available for Ph.D. programmes.

University fees are low compared to the U.K. and the U.S. All students registered at HHUD have to pay the semester fee. It is around 200 Euro that covers University administration services, Centre for Student Affairs and the Student Union and a semester ticket (NRW-Ticket). With this, the student can travel throughout the state for free. Semester fees are not identical with tuition fees.

The German university system receives most of its funding from the State. In the past, students were not required to pay tuition fee. But recently Germany's federal states have introduced general tuition fees.

Tuition fees at HHUD is currently 500 Euro per semester. Students in the first semester and exchange students are exempted from it. Students can earn money by working on a student work visa (90 hours/month). HHU also offers part-time jobs in dining services, library or in a department, but competition is fierce.

Hostels are available for international students at a cheap price.

Ananda Ayyappan J.V.

Ph.D. Scholar,

Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf.