Usually in Germany, most students start their studies when they are at least 18 years old. The majority even starts at the age of almost 24. However, more minors are currently studying at German colleges and universities than ever before. According to the Federal Statistical Office, there are almost 4,600 students under the age of 18, which makes up 0.16% of the total number of students. The main reason for the increase is the G8 Abitur. It shortens schooling by one year and enables earlier entry into vocational training or an academic career. In addition, the suspension of compulsory military or civilian service, which used to be compulsory in Germany, is an important factor for an increasing number of underage university entrants. However, an important factor is also the increasing number of underage international students coming to Germany to study.
Studying as a minor has advantages on the one hand, but on the other hand, also brings with it various restrictions that also apply to international students. In many areas, you cannot yet act completely independently and have only limited legal capacity. This means that you will need the signature of a parent or legal guardian on many forms and applications. Theoretically, as a minor, you may neither enrol at university nor apply for the necessary library card yourself. Also, you are not allowed to register for university sports or excursions without permission or sign a tenancy agreement for your flat.
So in spite of all these restrictions, how can you still have a carefree study time as a minor in Germany?
In order to make life easier for you as a minor in Germany, some German federal states have adapted their regulations. For example, if your studies will take you to Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, amendments of the state higher education laws now allow under-18s to have full capacity to act in all study matters and thus no longer require the signatures of their parents.
However, in federal states where there is no such legal regulation, it is recommended to get a legally binding general parental consent at the beginning of the study programme. However, the general consent usually does not include matters that deviate from the regular course of studies, such as withdrawing from exams, extending exam deadlines or concluding contracts as a student assistant. In those cases, a separate declaration by the legal representatives of the minor may be necessary. Therefore, it is recommended that your legal guardian issues you with a power of attorney. With this document, you can take care of all matters concerning your studies yourself – meaning you no longer need your parents to sign individual permissions related to your studies.
In the event that your legal guardians do not wish to give you general parental consent or a power of attorney, certain actions taken by you in all study matters must be signed separately. According to the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz), this is both practical and legally secure.
To provide more clarity, many colleges and universities have published special information for parents on their websites regarding the studies of their underage children. They are showing legal transactions of underage (international) students to which parents or legal guardians must consent with their signature (e.g. registration for examinations, use of the library and IT services, payment of fees and contributions, participation in university sports, change of course of study, but also, if applicable, address of postal delivery).
However, you need to consider that the power of attorney is often not sufficient. For example, if an excursion is planned, the express permission of your parents or legal guardian is required. In this case, make sure you organise the additional permission in good time so that you are allowed to take part in the excursion.
In the following you find the special requirements needed at certain steps of your studies in Germany:
- Parent’s/guardian’s notarised consent for unaccompanied trips abroad and for a longer stay of the child in Germany;
- Notarised confirmation of the guardian’s presence in Germany with copies of his or her identity card;
- The child’s birth certificate;
- The application for a D visa must be signed by the parents
- Special blocked account for minors as financial proof
- Sufficient health insurance coverage
Underage applicants and underage international students (who have not yet reached the age of 18 when starting their studies at the Studienkolleg) must ask the responsible Studienkolleg whether the general consent of the legal guardian(s) is necessary.
In general, it is recommended that you obtain general parental consent for your enrolment, which allows you as much flexibility as possible for your studies. In addition to this, a power of attorney gives you even more freedom. If your legal guardians do not want to issue you these documents, they must sign all of your study-related activities individually.
Many students take on a student job to improve their financial freedom in Germany. However, as a minor, you are restricted in terms of your job and working hours. For example, you are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week and you are not allowed to work in a bar if you are under 18. There must be at least 12 hours between the end of work and the start of work. Due to your young age, the Youth Protection Act applies to you which prohibits employment after midnight. Therefore, ideal student jobs include delivering newspapers, babysitting, waiting tables, working in a café or giving private lessons. These are just a few examples of how you can earn money. This way, with just a few hours of work, you can increase your budget and better focus on your studies.
As you are not allowed to sign the tenancy agreement alone, your legal guardians must sign it. If both parents have custody, both father and mother must sign, otherwise, only the one who is responsible for you.
We really hope that this information could help you! Enjoy your stay in Germany and in case you need more information on the Fintiba blocked account for minors, learn more here.