A key prerequisite for the internationalisation of German universities and the raising of their international profiles is a diverse student population. On average, over 11% of students currently studying at German universities are from outside Germany, either attending as part of an exchange programme or with the goal of attaining a German university degree.
Due to the substantial increase in applications from non-EU countries over the past decade, the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) has helped to establish the uni-assist (e.V) service which pre-processes the applications of prospective international students in order to ease the burden on university administration services.
Good German-language skills at an academic level are essential to study successfully German taught programs in Germany. The HRK has worked together with the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) and other partners in developing a regulatory framework and series of examinations for assessing language competency. The Professional Association of German as a Foreign Language (FaDaF) verify the content and standard of the universities’ DSH examinations, which are registered by the HRK; this then guarantees that they are recognised by other universities.
The use of the TestAS (assessment test which measures intellectual abilities particularly important for university studies), which was developed by the TestDaF Institute, enables universities to evaluate the chances of an applicant’s success. The subject-specific sections of the test make it particularly suitable as a university entrance examination.
Applicants from China, Vietnam and Mongolia are required to have their documents pre-checked at the Academic Evaluation Centre (APS) in order to obtain a student visa. However, German universities may request that this procedure be fast-tracked, known as a “simplified procedure”, if the quality of the applicant has been confirmed through a university’s internal selection process. A special programme then prepares these students for studying in Germany.
Students from schools abroad that have a connection to Germany represent an especially interesting group of potential applicants. In this case, it can be assumed that students have had some preparation for studying in Germany in terms of knowledge of the language and culture. It is even possible to take the German ‘Abitur’ at accredited German schools abroad.
In November 2009, the General Meeting of the German Rectors' Conference adopted a
National Code of Conduct for German Universities Regarding International Students.