En Studies Abroad in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements For Your Course at Your Home University
- 1 Probable Timing of a Teilstudium and a Postgraduate Study
- 2 Exchange Programme for the Teilstudium
- 3 Free Mover
- 4 Accreditation of Study Credits
- 5 Erasmus Initiatives – Orientation on Important Issues
- 6 Proficiency in the German Language – Precondition for an Incomplete Study
- 7 Collecting the Application Materials
- 8 Applying for Grants
Probable Timing of a Teilstudium and a Postgraduate Study
Should you wish to study at a German university or college for a limited period of time (one or two semesters), that does not constitute a complete degree course (undergraduate and graduate levels). That means that you as a foreign student would not study towards graduation or towards a degree in Germany but that you would rather collect credit points that count as part of your degree course at home.
Only you can decide on the right point in time when to go abroad. At any rate, experience shows that a period during the undergraduate phase is most appropriate (in as far as your home university or college has a division in undergraduate and graduate study phases and another point in time is not recommended).
Apart from following a full degree course and using this 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 on having completed a first degree. It is a further degree, complementing your first course. Pre-requisites for a postgraduate degree in Germany are an acknowledged university or college degree and having passed a German proficiency test. The graduation degree would be either diplom or Master.
Exchange Programme for the Teilstudium
The exchange programme Sokrates/Erasmus offers the possibility to many students to spend a part of their studies at a university or college in Germany.
Since 1995, the Erasmus programme of the European Union is 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 developed into a powerful stimulus for the international mobility of students and it contributes substantially in the internationalisation process of universities and colleges in Europe. A network of national Sokrates/Erasmus agencies is responsible for the intensive cooperation between the European universities and colleges. The Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD), the German Academic Exchange Service, supports this undertaking. About 250 German universities and colleges are participants, which gives a clear impression of the extent of this exchange programme.
All participating German universities and colleges have Erasmus coordinators, staff members dealing with your queries, questions and problems. Use this opportunity to get information about the cooperation between your home university or college and the universities and colleges in Germany. There are other exchange programmes next to the Sokrates/Erasmus exchange programme, and also foundations where one can find help and/or financial aid concerning a Teilstudium in Germany. For instance, the European Community education programme Leonardo da Vinci, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD), or the Herbert-Quandt-Foundation offer financial aid for a stay abroad for study purposes.
If there is no partnership with your home university or college, it is still possible to apply for a place of study in Germany as a so-called free mover. As a free mover you organise your stay for study purposes independently, without taking part in an exchange programme. Such a form of Teilstudium requires a great deal of organising and self-initiative and a preparatory time-frame of at least 18 months. Only a minimal portion of the international students are free movers, since the freely disposable departmental or faculty contingents are limited. In addition, the respective German university or college departments have to ensure and guarantee the supervision of those free movers.
Accreditation of Study Credits
Students who take up a Teilstudium in Germany are confronted with the problem of the accreditation (recognition) and transfer of the earned credits at their home university or college.
That is why the European Commission introduced the so-called European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), which is very important for international students. When taking up a Teilstudium in Germany you take courses, participate in classes etc. at your host university or college. Of course, it is in your interest to make those credits count as part of your studies at your home university or college. It is exactly this academic recognition of credits earned abroad that is made easier by the ECTS. It is not about grades in the normal sense, but about a transfer, a system of conversion. The workload of the respective student is converted into credits (points). Credits are a composite of 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 the accreditation and transfer of credits beforehand. A Transcript or Course Description is a basic requirement for credit transfer and recognition, and a Learning Agreement and a Transcript of Records are instrumental in the process. A Learning Agreement is reached in cooperation with both your host and your home institute. Your Erasmus coordinator can help you in clarifying which course will be accredited and will have transferable credits.
Erasmus Initiatives – Orientation on Important Issues
The Erasmus Initiatives are instrumental in helping you to participate in the exchange programme Sokrates/Erasmus.
Since most universities and colleges in Germany are part of the Sokrates/Erasmus programme, they also have own initiatives within the network of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), the German Academic Exchange Service. Since 1999 the Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) has an Erasmus initiative whose objective is to answer questions and to solve problems of the international students. Among other things, they try to facilitate the orientation of newly arrived international students, they stimulate meetings and contacts between German and international students and they cultivate a lively exchange of experiences and information. Visit the Erasmus website or go to an evening organised by the Erasmus initiative and you will get incentives as well as overcome initial orientation problems.
Proficiency in the German Language – Precondition for an Incomplete Study
For intercultural exchange to work, it takes "tools", that is to say sufficient language abilities. Proficiency in the German language is, as a matter of course, a basic ingredient for a Teilstudium at a German university or college. All lecture courses, seminars and exercises (Übungen) are held in the German language, so that participating in language courses in your home country often does not suffice to meet the required standard. In this case your host university or college of choice also comes to the rescue. They offer language courses in order for you to expand your language abilities and thus contribute to a more stress-free stay while studying. Still, it is recommended to gather information directly and on time from the German university or college of choice, before embarking on your studies.
It is of course possible to visit a preparatory German language course for your studies in Germany before you start your first semester. An alternative, free of charge this time, is the study-integrated language course, which takes place during the semester. The only requirement for participation is an admission test, allowing for admission to the specific course level suited to your abilities. The date for this entrance test will already be mentioned in the matriculation materials sent to you.
Collecting the Application Materials
After having informed yourself about the existing levels of co-operation between home and host university or college and selecting a preferred university or college, you can put together the necessary application materials.
Your documents should be sent to the International Office responsible, complete, on time (mind the deadline!) and in writing. That saves time and allows for a speedy 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 the relevant information on the websites of the respective universities and colleges.
An application for a Teilstudium at the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) should include the following:
- Application form / ECTS Application form
- Study plan
- University hall of residence application
- Enrolment for the preparatory language course at TUDIAS (Technical University Dresden Institute for Advanced Studies)
Applying for Grants
Next 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. Being an international student you cannot apply for BaföG (the existing financial aid system for students who are German nationals) so the universities and colleges can only help through stipends/grants. Naturally, not all applicants receive a grant, due to limited financial resources. Yet one should try to use this type of financial aid, preferably while you are still in your home country. Yet again, an application on time is strongly recommended as the average application processing time is six months. One can only apply when there is an existing partnership between the home and the host university or college.