The application

To apply for ISWI 2023 you have to be at least 18 years old (on 2nd June 2023) and you must be a student. Unfortunately we cannot consider other applications.

There will be two rounds of applications. The first round of applications starts on the 15th October. It consists of two steps (1. Registration 2. Filling out the application form, writing two essays & submitting the application)

  • Essay 1: A statement on your personal connection to the topic of ISWI 2023 ‘Impact of Knowledge: With great knowledge comes great responsibility!’ and your motivation to join ISWI 2023.
  • Essay 2: A statement concerning the choice you made regarding the working group. (Overview over all working groups)

The essays will serve as the basis for choosing the participants of ISWI 2023. They will be assessed by the Organising Committee of ISWI 2023.

The second round of applications will be only for participants directly from Ilmenau. It will start beginning of 2023.

Tip: Use a text document to compose your essays before you apply. This way, you can take your time writing the essays. Furthermore, your essays won’t get lost if your Internet connection breaks down.

The deadline for the application process for in-person participants is the 15th of November.

It is not possible to join with a friend just because they are a friend of yours. As stated above, we choose the participants on the basis of their essays, so everybody has the same chances. That is why each of you has to apply individually with different essays. The better they are, the more likely you are to get invited.

Do not copy any texts from the Internet, books, friends or other sources. Mark every quotation and state the source. Applications containing plagiarism will not be taken into consideration for ISWI 2023! Please be sure of this as we will read every essay and check for plagiarism.

After the deadline we begin reading and assessing your applications. This can last for about two months. If we have chosen you to participate in ISWI 2023, we will send you an official invitation letter. (We would appreciate your patience until all of the applications are reviewed and you receive your official invitation.)
After you have received the message saying that you are invited, please plan your journey and apply for a visa, if necessary. Please contact us if you are not able to come, so that we can give other people the chance to visit ISWI 2023.

In case that some circumstances prevent your participation, please contact us as fast as possible.

There will be another application period for online participation later next year. Be aware if you are already selected for ISWI 2023 and plan to participate in the in-person ISWI in Ilmenau, then you can’t apply and participate in the online version.

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No, it is not possible. The online and in-person group work will run parallel, so you won’t be able to participate in both.

Yes, if you didn’t get selected or can’t come to Ilmenau, you can still apply for the online ISWI. We’ll put the application period beginning of next year, so you’ll already know if you got selected or not.

Visa & Invitation letter

Yes, you will get an official invitation to ISWI 2023. We will send out the invitations at the end of December 2022 or the beginning of January 2023.

The official invitation confirms that you are invited to the 16th International Student Week in Ilmenau. It is signed by the board of the ISWI assoication as well as by the President of “Technische Universität Ilmenau”. The ISWI 2023 is officially supported by Technische Universität Ilmenau.
The invitation is important for obtaining a visa to enter Germany (that is if you require one – you can check here). You can also use it as a confirmation for your university that you are officially invited to ISWI 2023, in case you need a document in order to be released from your classes.

(Check here, if you need a visa, first.)

Please visit a German embassy or consulate in your country and apply for a visa. Please make sure that the visa is also valid for your traveling days (not only for the days of the conference). At the embassy, you will have to present your official invitation letter (and potentially some other documents the embassy in your country may require. These vary from country to country).
Please inform yourself at the website of the German Federal Foreign Office and the website of the respective embassy before visiting the embassy. It might be helpful to present a document from your university or from another official authority confirming your student status. The German Federal Foreign Office has promised us that the German Embassies will help you as much as they can in getting your visa upon presentation of your official invitation letter. But please be aware that the final decision on issuing visas for Germany is up to the embassy in your home country. Naturally we will do our best to inform the respective embassies and cooperate with them. If you have any problems or questions, please read the FAQ on our website first. You can also contact us via e-mail, phone or fax and we will do our best to help you.

Unfortunately, the visa for ISWI 2023 participants is not free of charge in general. We have tried to establish such an agreement but the Federal Foreign Office has tightened the rules concerning the grant of free visas.
Nevertheless, we would like to inform you about some exceptions. Our advice: When applying for the visa, take this leaflet with you and ask the embassy if they can make an exemption from the visa fee in your case, because you are a student and visiting an international student conference.

Travel & Arrival

In general, going by bus or train might be the most cost effective, environmental friendly and also convenient way to go to Germany – especially when you’re based in Europe. If you have a longer distance to travel you might need to take the plane. The nearest international airport to Ilmenau is Leipzig (LEJ – about 2:30 hours to Ilmenau by train). However, you can also fly to Berlin or Berlin Brandenburg (BER) (SXF, TXL – about 4:00), Munich (MUC – about 5:30), Frankfurt (FRA – about 3:30) or Hamburg (HAM – about 6:00). Berlin Tegel and some other smaller Airports are not directly connected to the German rail network. Shuttle buses will be available to take you to a train station. If are arriving from Europe, you may take the train. You can check for special prices on the German Railways website.

Another alternative would be taking a bus to Erfurt, Nürnberg, Dresden, Berlin or München, etc. There are several different bus lines to European countries, such as:

For travel within Germany, there are several cheap bus services, the so-called ‘Fernbusse’ – i.e. long-distance buses. Tickets are often cheaper than train tickets, especially when you book early. There are many different companies that run long-distance coaches. You can check the busliniensuche website for a connection that fits your travel plans. Tip: For better results, click ‘Expand search range around departure and destination’ under ‘Display further options’.

Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) is a big international airport in Frankfurt. Almost all international flights arrive at FRA. Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) is just a small airport, about 120km to the west of Frankfurt. Some cheap flights with Ryanair arrive there from European countries and Morocco. To get to Frankfurt, you will have to take a bus.

If your flight arrives at Frankfurt, Berlin, München, Leipzig or Hamburg airport, the best way to get to Ilmenau is by train or by long-distance bus (see question 1).

Look for the next German Railways (“Deutsche Bahn”) train station. You can buy a ticket to Ilmenau at German Railways offices (“Reisecenter”) or at any ticket machine. Note: some airlines offer a train ticket within Germany (Rail + Fly). This could be a cheaper way to get your ticket.

There are no direct trains from the aforementioned cities to Ilmenau, and you will at least have to change trains in Erfurt, which is the nearest larger city to Ilmenau. For more information about tickets and schedules, please check out: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml.

You can also take a bus from Erfurt to Ilmenau. In this case, you buy the ticket on the bus.

Make sure that you don’t confuse the Ilmenau station, where you’ll get off, with the other two Ilmenau stations, which come before Ilmenau. The correct station is simply called ‘Ilmenau’ and is the final stop. On the 2nd of June, there will be someone from the Organising Committee waiting to collect you at the train station. If you decide to take the bus, get off at the Ilmenau bus station “Busbahnhof” (you can ask the driver when you’re not sure if it’s the correct station). The Ilmenau train station and bus station are right next to each other.

Please don’t hesitate to ask the staff at information centres in the airport and/or at the train stations, if you need more information. Also, don’t hesitate to call us if you need help. If you get lost in Ilmenau, try following the signs to ‘Technische Universität Ilmenau’ and asking passengers.

Please check out the website of German Railways. You will find a lot of information about schedules, prices, special offers and more.

German Railways have different special offers. You can buy a “Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket” and travel with a group of 5 persons. With this option you are not allowed to take the ICE and IC, but you pay just 76 € for the whole group for one day.

On weekends (Saturday & Sunday) you can also take the so called “Happy Weekend Ticket”, which is even less expensive –which currently costs about 44 €  for  1-5 persons.

For your fly back, you can easily buy the train ticket to the airport in advance and find cheaper prices in this way.

Some airlines offer tickets which include the train ticket within Germany (Rail & Fly), which could also be a good option.

We will be expecting you to arrive in Ilmenau on Friday, the 2nd of June, (or Saturday the 3rd.) The info point and check-in area can be found in the Mensa building on the campus of Technische Universität Ilmenau. On the above days, somebody from the Organising Committee will be waiting at the Ilmenau train station for every train or bus that arrives, to collect you. For the duration of ISWI 2023, you will be able to reach us by phone (+49 3677 – 69 1946) 24 hours a day from Thursday, the 1st of June. If you arrive before Friday, please contact us a few days in advance.

Please inform us of the exact date and time of your arrival. We will try our very best to find a place for you to stay until the beginning of ISWI 2023. However, we cannot guarantee that it will be free of charge, as the accommodation costs are only covered for the duration of the conference.

Usually, it is no problem if you can’t make it on the 2nd of June, but you should arrive no later than the 3rd of June, because the group work starts on Sunday.

If you can’t find a flight back home on the 11th of June, please be aware that, after the conference, you will have to take care of your food and accommodation on your own. Naturally, we will help you find a place to stay until you fly back home. Please be aware that your flight back home must be before the expiration date of your visa, so please consider this during your planning.


You will have to pay for your travel and visa expenses, as well as any additional expenses like club entrance fees and drinks. Accommodation during the conference and basic meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) will be provided by us. In addition, you will have free entry to all ISWI 2023 cultural events.

No, ISWI 2023 does not have a participation fee. 

That depends on what you would like to buy. Accommodation, meals and festival events are free of charge for you, but you might want to buy some souvenirs or beer, juice and coffee at the student clubs while hanging out with friends. If so, we would like to stress that the standard of living in Germany is high. To give you an idea of the prices: a coffee is about 1 euro, a beer about 2,50 euros and a soft drink about 2 euros. These prices are taken from the student clubs on the campus, where everything is usually much cheaper than in other clubs or in restaurants.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to give any financial support for your travel expenses. We are only a student organisation that tries to do its best in organising this conference. Thus, we depend on public funding from the German State and from private sponsors and foundations. It is hard work to get all the money to realise the conference. We hope that you can understand our situation, and that you kindly refrain from asking for such support. However, we can assist you by writing a letter of support if you plan to ask your university or local companies for a scholarship or sponsorship. Please contact us and tell us the details if you would like such support.

You can exchange your money in any bank in Ilmenau (banking hours are from Mo-Fr, 9 am – 4 pm), but, due to the schedule of the festival events, you probably won’t have much time to do this. We would also like to warn you that some banks do not accept some currencies. The US dollar is probably the most advisable and convenient foreign currency to carry and exchange if you do not carry any Euros. Be aware that you won’t get the full value back because banks charge about 5 Euro commission each time you exchange foreign currency, so it would be better to exchange all of the foreign currency you think you’ll need for your stay in just one transaction. We should also warn you that exchange centres in airports and train stations charge a higher commission than regular banks. ATMs (automatic teller machines) are available all over Ilmenau as well. In general, the best option is to withdraw money from a local ATM directly in Euros using a credit card or similar.

If you plan to use traveller’s cheques instead of cash to exchange into Euros, we should warn you that the exchange rate for a traveller’s cheque is lower than that for cash, and that the “commission” system applies to traveller’s cheques too (see preceding question). You can avoid these commissions by using your bank card or credit card to withdraw money (if you withdraw money in Germany, the ATM will give it to you in Euros no matter the account currency). Master Card and Visa are widely accepted in Germany, and you can also use them (and your Euro Cheque bank card, if you have one) to withdraw money from the automatic teller machines 24 hours a day.

The conference

The final selection of your working group will be made after your arrival in Ilmenau at the check-in, where you will register for the working group you will participate in. We will try to give you your first choice, but due to capacity reasons it is possible that we can only offer you your second or third choice topic. Note: You will only be able to participate in one working group during the conference.

You will participate in only one of the three working groups you selected during the application process (see the preceding question).

You can change your selected working group during the registration after your arrival in Ilmenau.

Currently we are working on an exciting and varied program.  You can find news about it here.

Your stay in Ilmenau

During the whole course of ISWI 2023 you are insured. The Organising Committee will provide you with free health-, accident-, and third party- liability as well as legal protection. That fact also will be stated in your official invitation letter.

We have a host program, where Ilmenau students and citizens voluntarily host the participants of our conference at their house/apartment. In previous conferences we had good experiences with this, because both sides can meet each other and get to know each other throughout the week. Often, the hosts and the participants become close friends. You will meet your host at the check-in. Breakfast will be provided at the host’s place.

If you do not wish to be part of this program and would not live with one of our hosts during the conference, you are free to book a hotel or hostel in Ilmenau yourself – e.g. https://www.jugendherberge.de/en/youth-hostels/ilmenau-163/portrait/ . Please keep in mind that in this case you will be responsible for paying for your room/bed and breakfast.

Lunch and dinner will be provided by us. There will be several dishes available each day, including at least one vegan and one poultry option. 

We will provide an online platform (i.e. discord), where the participants and hosts can contact and find each other before the start of the conference. But in our experience most participants will find their host upon arrival in Ilmenau, where the Organising Committee will assist every participant in finding a host. So don’t worry if you do not find a host before your travel. We will inform you as soon as the platform is online.

Ilmenau weather can be very capricious. One minute, the sun may be shining and five minutes later, it may start to rain. So when you pack, bring both – clothes for warm and sunny as well as for cold and rainy weather. (If you want to pack light, remember you can always wear clothes in layers when it’s cold.) Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes, too, if you plan to go hiking in the forests around Ilmenau or participate in the sports event.
The other important things you need, are listed below:


  • passport (Make sure you have the necessary visa!)
  • copy of all personal documents (passport, visa, …)
  • ticket (flight and return flight)
  • money for your personal expenses
  • a sleeping bag (if you have one)
  • sense of humour and an open mind


  • outdoor clothes for hikes and other outdoor events
  • national costume and traditional music (for the International Brunch on Saturday)
  • traditional food of your country (for the International Brunch on Saturday).
  • lecture materials (If you want to give a lecture, be well prepared and if you need any equipment, let us know.)
  • medication you might need
  • comfortable and sturdy walking shoes (if you plan to go hiking on Saturday)
  • musical instrument (if you like to play some own music, especially in the music group)
  • camera (if you want to take photos, especially in the photography group)

Ilmenau is a small town (approx. 26,000 inhabitants), so most of the destinations can be easily reached on foot. Furthermore the majority of working groups will take place on campus of the TU Ilmenau.


Please send us an email to info@iswi.org with your detailed request (What do you need the reference for? What information should the letter contain?). Within a few days we will send you a reference letter.

To contact other participants (e.g. from your country) you can use different ways. We’ll provide a Facebook group and other platforms to get in contact with other participants. You’ll get more information about the platforms.

For data privacy reasons we cannot give you the contact of other participants. But we can give your contact data to the other participants of your country, if you allow us to do so. Then they can contact you. If you want us to give your contact data to the other participants from your country, you can write to info@iswi.org.

We try our best to answer all your requests as soon as possible. But since we are all volunteers and organise the conference in our free time after our studies, it could take a few days up to a week until we are able to answer your request. We try our best to answer urgent questions immediately. Thank you for your understanding. Please don’t send your email more than once! It doesn’t make us answer faster.