Thanks to this blog, quite a few people approach me for guidance about choosing a German university. Before I proceed any further, I need to put the following disclaimers:
- All the text that I write in this blog post is my personal opinion. It may or may not work for you.
- This blog post assumes that you have your area of interest, and the area of interest is within Data Science.
- There is a slight bias in favour of Otto-von Guericke Universität, Magdeburg because I am currently a student here. I’ll try to de-bias it!
- Examples taken include universities which are hot favourites among the young friends that I am connected with, in Calcutta, India.
Process 1: If you are applying to a Universität (university) in Germany, you’re most probably willing to pursue “Science”. Scientists work on new concepts and/or newer implementations and publish “papers” in conferences. The previous statement shouldn’t surprise you. But how do you know which conferences are good and which ones are not? Could you discover universities while searching for conferences?
Conferences have a ranking. The better the conference, the better the rank, probably the better is the work, network and reach of the researcher (faculty/Professor). You can find the ranking on websites such as this.
Let’s search with a generic term, “data mining”. 3 conferences have “A*” (highest) rating. The 3 are, ICDM, SIGKDD, WSDM. Now, let’s see who are the chairs of the conferences, and how many of them are associated with universities in Germany.
- In ICDM 2018, there are no names from Germany chairing any committee. However, there are 13 people in the programme committee who are from German universities and research centres. TU Dortmund, Darmstadt, Max Planck Institute for Informatics, University of Ulm are a few of them.
- In SIGKDD 2018, there is one faculty associated and that’s Prof. Dr Myra Spiliopoulou. She’s one of “Applied Data Science Track PC Chairs”. She’s currently teaching at the university I study in. In the “Research Track Program Committee”, there are a few German universities mentioned. Researchers from TU Darmstadt, Luneburg are there.
- In WSDM 2018, there is one person from Saarbrücken (Saarland) in the “Senior Programme Committee”.
You can also check with other search terms, like “machine learning”, and/or “NLP”. It should be a little time consuming, but it is your life… so maybe, you would want to invest a little time into it.
Process 2: Check DAAD + CHE Ranking of German Universities, sign up for free and fill in the required details. You’ll get a list of universities and an array of parameters you can judge the university on. Select the parameters that you believe are best fit in your case. Make a list of the universities, go to their course/discipline homepages. Check out the faculty, the positions they hold and/or their recent publications. Below are a couple of pointers:
- It might be a little uneasy to navigate, and the sites might be in German. In that case, take the university URL and search for the faculty on Google.
- Check out the chairs / departments / tracks. This also shows the span of research you can choose from, in case you’re still undecided.
- Go to each faculty web page and check their most recent works published.
Examples: I saw a Bengali name, and thus natural curiosity led me to see the details of TU Munich’s Univ.-Prof. Debarghya Ghoshdastidar, PhD. While it was a little confusing to search for his publication on the TUM website, it was easy on Google Scholar. Here’s his link to his profile. His publication in 2018 was in NIPS, which is rated A*. In Saarland, Prof. Dr. Joerg Hoffmann has multiple publications, at least two of which is A* conference (AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, International Conference on Automated Planning and scheduling). For Prof. Stober (OvGU), it was also A* conference where his works were published in 2017 & 2014.
You’d also find faculty members who are chairs of different conferences. For example Prof. Andreas Nürnberger (OvGU) is the Vice President of IEEE SMC Human-Machine Systems.
Please note: The narrower the scope of the conference, it is more likely to be an “A” or “B” category, as it does not attract mass attraction.
This analysis is important, please do this carefully. It is your life and you should have control over things, especially in decision making of this sort. There’s no alternative to better-informed decisions. [And do not outsource this to a consultancy.]
Make sure that your decision making/choice of a German university is based on parameters, of which the faculty has the highest importance. Everything else like the population of a city, ease of getting accommodation, whether you have relatives/ family members in and around the city etc., can be taken care of.
All the best. Do leave a comment for me below.