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German University Entrance Qualification: International Students’ Guide

German University Entrance Qualification: International Students’ Guide
Amarnath pratapwarOct 6, 2022

To study at a German higher education institution, students need “Hochschulzugangsberechtigung.” It is also known as “university entrance qualification.” Abbreviated as HZB, it refers to a school leaving certificate that qualifies a student to study at a university in Germany. Before enrolling at a university, the entrance qualification of a student must be deemed sufficient. This article guides you in understanding the German university entrance qualification and how you can determine your suitability to study in Germany.

What is German University Entrance Qualification?

As highlighted earlier, university entrance qualification is the English term for Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB).  Generally, it is a collective term for school and university certificates. A university entrance qualification is a prerequisite to studying at a German university. In Germany, this qualification is demonstrated by a school-leaving certificate or the “Abitur.”

However, students with a foreign qualification must first determine if they are eligible to study at a university in Germany.

Determining eligibility for German universities

When determining eligibility, the most crucial factor students must pay attention to is their home country. The regulations vary depending on whether a student’s home country is in the EU or outside the EU.

For students from the EU

Students from the EU with a school-leaving certificate recognized in the home country will also be recognized in Germany. This region includes students from Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. 

If the students have studied in any of the 140+ German schools abroad, they must have received “Abitur.” These students will carry the same status as German students who have completed their higher secondary education in Germany.

For non-EU students

International students from non-EU countries must ensure their high-school qualifications are recognized. The DAAD database is an efficient way of determining your qualifications’ validity. The database asks simple questions regarding your home country and previous education. After selecting the suitable answer options, the DAAD will confirm whether your certificate is valid. There are four possible outcomes. The DAAD portal may determine a student to be:

  • Not eligible for admission for academic study in Germany without additional proof of education
  • Eligible for subject-restricted admission to a preparatory course related to the subject area during your high school.
  • Eligible for direct subject-restricted admission for studying in the subject area of previous academic studies.
  • Eligible for direct general admission for academic studies in any subject area.

For more information about the recognition of educational certificates, students can visit Anabin. However, this website is only available in the German language.

When school qualifications are not recognized in Germany

Students whose school-leaving certificates are not recognized for direct entry into a program in Germany must attend a “Studienkolleg.” Known as “foundation courses” in English, Studienkollegs are offered at Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences. The duration of studienkollegs is generally two semesters, with 30 hours of lessons per week. The language of instruction is German. Therefore, students must prove adequate proficiency in the German language to be admitted to a studienkolleg. The proficiency level is at least CEFR B1. There is no tuition fee for studienkollegs at a state higher education institution.

The university qualification exam

A studienkolleg in Germany ends with an examination. This examination is known as Feststellungsprüfung. It is short for Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung Internationaler Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums an Hochschulen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland,” which translates to “Exam to assess the qualification of international student applicants for entering studies at universities in the Federal Republic of German.” It is also simply referred to as a university qualification exam.

The test includes a number of topics that are crucial for pursuing a degree program in Germany. Successfully passing the exam allows students to enroll in a bachelor’s program in Germany. The bachelor’s program should correspond to the subject area (“Fachrichtung”) they have prepared for at the studienkolleg. If the exam is taken at a university of applied sciences, students can only study at a  university of applied sciences. But if the exam is taken at a university, students can study at either a university or a university of applied sciences.

Some studienkollegs allow students to take the Feststellungsprüfung without attending classes. This is known as Externe Feststellungsprüfung. But it implies that students must prepare for the exam on their own.

German Language proficiency

International students’ eligibility to study at a German university also depends on their German language skills. Many German universities require students to be familiar with German up to a level. To attend a studienkolleg too, German proficiency is required. There are, however, exceptions to this. If international students choose international study programs in Germany, then German language skills are not a prerequisite. Many English-taught programs at private universities as well waive the German language requirement. International students can test their German language skills through TestDaF or DSH.

Aptitude Test for German universities

It is possible for international students to check their readiness for studying at a German university. TestAS is a standardized test to measure one’s ability to study at a German university. This test is specifically intended for international students who plan on pursuing an undergraduate degree in Germany. TestAS covers three main aspects: language skills, cognitive abilities, and subject knowledge. The test result can give students a fair idea of their ability to complete studies in Germany. It can also help international students decide about a study program. One can take TestAS in either English or German, depending on their preference. The certificate obtained after completing TestAS is valid indefinitely.

In a nutshell

  • If you’re an international student from the EU, your high-school qualifications will most likely be accepted in Germany. 
  • However, if you are an international student outside the EU, recognizing your school certificates depends on a few factors. 
  • This DAAD link can help you determine whether you are eligible to study for direct entry in any subject, subject-specific entry, or attend a studienkolleg.
  • If you are required to attend a studienkolleg, you may have to prove your German language proficiency of level B1. 
  • After studienkolleg, international students must take the university qualification exam. A successful result entitles them to study for a bachelor’s degree in Germany.

The final decision of accepting applications is with the university itself. It is essential to be aware of what the university’s admission requirements are. Apart from the German university entrance qualification, a university may have additional criteria. Students may be required to submit resumes, work samples, letters of reference, motivation letters, etc., as part of the admission process.

Do you have more queries? To learn about admissions in Germany, contact our counselors at Gyanberry. Through a personalized counseling session, you can learn more about the most suitable universities for your profile, the cost of studying in Germany, admission requirements, and much more. Book an appointment today and have your queries resolved.

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The DAAD database can help international students determine their eligibility to study for a bachelor’s program in Germany. Students can find out if their qualifications will be accepted for direct general entry, subject-specific entry, or studienkolleg.

The university qualification exam or Feststellungsprüfung comes into the picture after studienkolleg. International students who complete studienkolleg are required to clear the university qualification exam to enroll in an undergraduate program in Germany.

International students who wish to study in Germany but do not meet the educational qualifications will have to attend a studienkolleg to become eligible.

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