If you are going to Mannheim, you will cry … “, this is a common phrase heard about Mannheim, a city that is apparent to lack a good reputation amongst other cities in Germany. So why do the rational economists pick this rather unhappy place for their studies? The reason lies within the walls of the Mannheimer Schloss – the second biggest Baroque palace after Versailles.  Here the city hosts its university, which is considered as one of the best places to study social sciences and business studies in Germany, and which is a partner university of TSE within the ENTER network. Mannheim is located in the southwest of Germany, close to the picturesque student cities of Heidelberg and Frankfurt.

The University of Mannheim is a rather young university, founded in 1967 and counting 12,000 students. The economics department is one of the largest of its kind in Germany, with 23 senior and 21 junior faculty members. Currently, 859 students study economics at bachelor and master’s level, and another 77 students are pursuing PhDs in the Graduate School of Economic Sciences (GESS). Many professors from Mannheim have received awards and grants for their research.  For example, the macroeconomist Klaus Adam has received the Junior Prize in Monetary Economics and Finance of TSE and Banque de France in 2012, and the macro and family economist, Michèle Tertilt, the Gossen-Prize of the Verein für Socialpolitik, the association for German-speaking economists.

Only a few metres away from the department of economics is the Centre for European Economic Research (Zentrum) für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, ZEW), an economic research institute with over 180 employees that holds very close ties with the economics department. For instance, many researchers of ZEW are also lecturers at the department of economics and there are weekly seminars in cooperation. For students, the ZEW offers many research assistant jobs as well as internships and thus provides a great opportunity to gain practical experience.

The master’s and PhD programmes of the economics department are entirely taught in English whereas the bachelor’s programmes is mainly held in German with a wide array of electives as well as core courses taught in English. As many international students prove each year, it is possible to study in Mannheim without any knowledge of German. However, as in Toulouse, basic knowledge will make everyday life outside of the university easier and more enjoyable.

The links between TSE and Mannheim are quite strong. There are Erasmus exchange possibilities for undergraduates. Graduate students can apply for a joint master’s programme in partner universities within ENTER network such as Toulouse. In addition, the ENTER network allows PhD students either to spend one or two semesters as a visiting scholar in Mannheim or to present in one of the Ph.D. seminars.

Pierre Boyer and Raphaël Levy obtained their Ph.D.s from TSE and are now assistant professors of economics in Mannheim. They both recommend TSE students to visit Mannheim. Pierre Boyer: “I would definitively encourage Ph.D. students of TSE to consider a stay in Mannheim and current students at licence or master level to consider the master or Ph.D.-programme in Mannheim. The department and the graduate school are very friendly places for exchange students and Ph.D. students. Students will have an opportunity to interact with the faculty and  to present their ongoing work. Our programmes are very competitive at the international level and our students are well received in the best places. For instance, our graduate school has an exchange program with Yale and Berkeley in the second year of the Ph.D.” Raphaël Levy emphasizes the close relationship between TSE and Mannheim: “We have had very close connections to Toulouse both in terms of research interests and organisation of joint events, and we are always sympathetic to applications from Toulouse students.  Our Ph.D. program is very good here, with a student seminar in different fields, and a general audience Ph.D. seminar. I also think that interaction between students and faculty is very easy , which is very beneficial for the students.”. So is the place the bitter pill anyone – who comes to study economics in Mannheim – has to swallow? Well, having lived more than three years in Mannheim, I can say that the place is certainly better than its reputation. Students in general can hardly complain since they study in the nicest building in the city.

Many lecture theaters and the economics library are located in the palace. Moreover, the city offers many cultural activities, there is a stunning opera house and a variety of different theaters. The living expenses are relatively low compared to European standards. Students can easily find cheap accommodation within walking distance to the university and the city centre. In fact, the full phrase about Mannheim goes like this: “If you are going to Mannheim you will cry twice, once when you arrive and once when you have to leave.”