Study in Germany
School-Leaving Qualification at Home, Then a Bachelor’s in Germany
A-level students and high-school graduates from abroad have various ways of fulfilling their dream of studying at a university in Germany. What linguistic and subject-specific requirements, however, do they have to bring with them? And what do their teachers in their home countries have to be aware of in order to give them the best possible advice for their studies abroad?
Anybody wanting to enrol for a Bachelor’s degree in Germany has to have a sound knowledge of German. German universities require applicants from abroad to submit verification that they have passed certain exams, such as the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH / i.e.: language proficiency test for entry to a German university) or the TestDaF (test of German as a foreign language). The applicants can prepare for these exams in their home countries or by doing a summer school or by taking a language course in Germany. Like German university applicants, students from abroad also have to verify that they have the necessary qualifications and working techniques in order to obtain university admission. School-leavers from EU countries prove this by submitting the university entrance qualifications from the country they come from, which are classified as being the same level as the German Abitur exam (the German qualification for university entrance). Applicants from other countries, on the other hand, as a rule have to take a more roundabout route. They can either apply for a course in preliminary studies at a Studienkolleg (preparatory college) or start their course in their own country and then be admitted to a course in the same subject in Germany.
Direct access to a German university
Since 2012, however, these applicants, whose qualifications are not automatically classified as the same level as the German Abitur exam, have actually been able to obtain a place at some German universities, i.e. those in the German federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW). This became possible because in NRW the Hochschulgesetz (the German Higher Education Act) was changed. “The roundabout route via the Studienkolleg or by students starting their course of study in their home countries can be quite complex and time-consuming compared to the American and English university study systems. This means that we come off rather badly when trying to recruit foreign students. That is why we welcome the fact that we are no longer only taking the education system of the students’ country of origin into consideration, but also the individual skills and talents of the applicants,” says Hans-Joachim Althaus, head of the TestDaF-Institut and director of the Gesellschaft für Akademische Studienvorbereitung und Testentwicklung (Society of Academic Study Preparation and Test Development). He is optimistic that other federal states in Germany will follow suit. In addition to the university entrance qualifications from their home country applicants for direct entrance also have to take a test, for example TestAs (A centrally devised, standardised study capability test that examines the cognitive abilities that are important for taking a course of study), to prove they are capable of studying. They also have to take part in a propaedeutic event at the university.