En Studies Abroad in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements For Your Course at Your Home University
- 1 Probable Timing for a Study Stay and a Postgraduate Study
- 2 Exchange Programmes
- 3 Accreditation of Study Credits
- 4 Proficiency in the German Language – Precondition for a Study Stay
- 5 Collecting the Application Materials
- 6 Applying for Grants
- 7 Free Mover
- 8 Erasmus Initiatives – Counterpart for Important Issues
Probable Timing for a Study Stay and a Postgraduate Study
If you wish to study at a German university or college for a limited period of time (one or two semesters), you decide for a Teilstudium (undergraduate and graduate levels). That means that you do not study towards graduation or towards a degree in Germany but rather collect credit points that count as part of your degree course at home.
Only you can decide when the time is right to go abroad. At any rate, experience shows that the period during the undergraduate phase is most appropriate (if there is a division between undergraduate and graduate study phase at your home university or college and no other point in time is recommended).
Apart from following a full degree course and using this study stay Teilstudium to collect a number of credit points in partial fulfilment of your course requirements, there is also the possibility of completing a post-graduate course in Germany. A postgraduate course takes two to four semesters and is taken up after having completed a first degree. It is an extension degree complementing your first course. Pre-requisites for a postgraduate degree in Germany are an acknowledged university or college degree and a passed German proficiency test. The graduation degree would be either diploma or master.
The many students the exchange programme Sokrates/Erasmus provides the opportunity to spend a part of their studies at a university or college in Germany.
Since 1995, the Erasmus programme of the European Union has been part of the education parent programme Sokrates. For the past ten years, this programme has been a typical representative of international cooperation in several areas of education. In the meantime, Sokrates/Erasmus has developed into a powerful stimulus for the international mobility of students and is substantially contributing to the internationalisation process of universities and colleges in Europe. A network of national Sokrates/Erasmus agencies is responsible for the intensive cooperation between European universities and colleges. The Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD), the German Academic Exchange Service, supports this undertaking. Approximately 250 German universities and colleges take part in Sokrates/Erasmus, a fact that gives a clear impression of the enormity of this exchange programme.
All participating German universities and colleges have Erasmus coordinators, staff members dealing with your queries, questions and problems. Please use this opportunity to get information about cooperation between your home university or college and universities and colleges in Germany. However, there are also other exchange programmes and foundations besides the Sokrates/Erasmus exchange programme proving help and/or financial aid for a study stay in Germany. The European Community education programme Leonardo da Vinci, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD), or the Herbert-Quandt-Foundation for instance offer financial aid for a stay abroad for study purposes.
Accreditation of Study Credits
Students who come to Germany for a study stay are confronted with the problem of the accreditation (recognition) and transfer of the earned credits at their home university or college.
Therefore, the European Commission introduced the so-called European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), which is of great importance for international students. During a study stay you take courses, participate in classes and tutorial at your host university or college. It is of course in your interest to make those credits count as part of your studies at your home university or college. The ECTS makes it easier that your credits earned abroad are recognized at your home university. The ECTS is a conversion system, not a system of grading in the normal sense. The workload of the respective student is converted into credits (points). Credits combine both attendance and self-study time required for the course in question. In principle, 30 credits can be earned per semester. For every course, practical training, or optional subject forming a required part of your studies, credits can be earned after active participation.
Concerning the recognition of credits, it is advisable to contact your Erasmus co-ordinator and the ECTS co-ordinator of your department before coming to Dresden. That will give you the opportunity to clarify and resolve specific questions and problems about accreditation and transfer of credits beforehand. A transcript or course description is a basic requirement for credit transfer and recognition and a learning agreement as well as a transcript of records are of fundamental importance in the process. A learning agreement is reached in cooperation with both your host and your home institute. Your Erasmus coordinator can help you clarify which course will be accredited and will have transferable credits.
Proficiency in the German Language – Precondition for a Study Stay
Successful inter-cultural exchange requires sufficient language skills. As a matter of fact, proficiency in the German language serves as basis for a study stay at a German university or college. Most lecture courses, seminars and tutorials are held in German, so that participating in language courses in your home country is often barely sufficient when it comes to meeting the required standards. In this case, your host university or college of choice provides assistance by offering language courses that will help you improve your language skills and thus contribute to a more relaxed study stay. Still, it is recommended to gather information directly and early enough from the German university or college of choice before embarking on your studies.
It is of course possible to attend a preparatory German language course before the start of the semester. A cost-saving alternative solution are study-integrated language courses, held during the semester. The only requirement for participation is a placement test to ensure that you attend the respective course for your language level. The date for the placement test will already be specified in the matriculation materials you will receive.
Collecting the Application Materials
After having informed yourself about the existing co-operations of your home university and selecting a university or college for your study stay, you have to compile all necessary application materials.
Your complete documents have to be send in writing to the responsible International Office. Mind the deadline! You will thereby save time and may reckon on the prompt processing of your application.
Contact your host university or college concerning required materials and application deadlines, since documents arriving too late cannot be taken into consideration. You will find relevant information on the websites of the respective universities and colleges.
An application for a study stay at the Dresden University of Technology (TUD) should include the following:
- Application form
- ECTS Application form
- Study plan (approved by your home university)
- University hall of residence application
- Enrolment for the preparatory language course at TUDIAS (Dresden University of Technology, Institute for Advanced Studies)
Applying for Grants
In addition to the application for admission to the study course of your choice at a German host university or college you might try to obtain financial aid through grants. As international students cannot apply for BaföG (the existing financial aid system for German students), the universities and colleges provide help through grants. Of course, not all applicants receive a grant due to limited financial resources. Yet, you should try to get this type of financial aid, preferably while you are still in your home country. An application in time is strongly recommended as the average application processing time is approximately six months. Please note that applying for grants is only possible if a partnership between the home and the host university or college exists.
If no partnership exists with your home university or college it is still possible to apply for a study study in Germany as a so-called free mover. As a free mover you organise your study stay autonomously without taking part in an exchange programme. That requires great organising skills, self-initiative and a preparatory time-frame of at least 18 months. Only a very small number of all international students are free movers, since disposable contingents of the faculties are limited. In addition, the respective German university or college departments have to ensure and guarantee the supervision of those free mover students.
Erasmus Initiatives – Counterpart for Important Issues
The Erasmus Initiatives are important counterparts helping you participate in the exchange programme Sokrates/Erasmus.
Since most universities and colleges in Germany take part in the Sokrates/Erasmus programme, most universities also have own initiatives within the network of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), the German Academic Exchange Service. Since 1999 the aim of the Erasmus Initiative at the Dresden University of Technology (TUD) has been to answer questions of international student and to solve the problems they might have abroad. Among other things, the initiative tries to help international students who have recently arrived to settle into the new surrounding, it stimulates meetings and contacts between German and international students and cultivates a lively exchange of experiences and information. Visit the Erasmus website or attend an evening organised by the Erasmus Initiative. You will surely get interesting incentives and will soon overcome initial orientation problems.