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applying for a german university

(37 Posts)
mudandmayhem01 Tue 17-Nov-15 18:28:38

Hi a student I am supporting is on an exchange programme completing her AS levels here before going back to Germany next year to complete her abitur ( German leaving certificate) She is loving being in England and wants to complete her A levels here and maybe even going to uni here We found lots of useful information on funding ( Germany would be a lot cheaper!) but any other useful info on comparing the two education systems. could she apply to a German university with A levels?

nearlyteatime101 Tue 17-Nov-15 18:45:06

Have you checked the website of any university in Germany? I think the entry requirements would likely be on there. From my own (albeit limited) experience, I don't think A levels would be accepted. I think it will depend on the course and the institution.

Comparing the two education systems generally is difficult. It would depend so much on which course, which university and what their career ambitions are. German universities are poorly funded, they don't have the library/computer facilities and they don't have the different 'societies' that english universities have. In my experience English universities at undergraduate level... its more like kindergarten... with lots of alcohol. Not many take it seriously, its more about 'finding oneself'. Undergraduate degrees are bought. Its a shame. Postgrad, I prefer english, undergrad, I prefer german.

HTH

mudandmayhem01 Tue 17-Nov-15 18:52:04

Thanks that helps, we looked at Leipzig university together, it was a little unclear, it seemed to suggest A levels were an equivalent but didn't give a lot of detail, I think she needs to send some emails, speak to admissions.

HocusUcas Tue 17-Nov-15 19:39:30

In my experience English universities at undergraduate level... its more like kindergarten... with lots of alcohol. Not many take it seriously, its more about 'finding oneself'. Undergraduate degrees are bought.

Nearly, I obviously cannot argue with your experience, it is yours, but I think this might be a wee bit of a generalisation smile.

Mud - I am not expert but if she is EU would a Scottish university be cheaper?

mudandmayhem01 Tue 17-Nov-15 19:44:01

The Scottish idea is a good one! No tuition fees for eu students, thanks for jogging my memory.

TheDrsDocMartens Tue 17-Nov-15 19:54:06

Dd1 wants to go to a German university. She's interested in sciences , something biology related. She's only GCSE year at the moment but a German friend thinks German universities are much harder than here. Her only reference is her own /talking to others so I'm not sure how accurate that is!

Archfarchnad Tue 17-Nov-15 19:56:27

Yes, you can attend a German university with A-Levels, I know this because I have done so myself! In fact, over the years I've been registered at 3 universities here in Germany. For 2 of them there were no minimum grades required, and for those it was enough to show my A-Level certificate (ie I had shown that I had at least the 'minimum' entrance requirement for a university.) But for one programme there were very strict admittance criteria under the Numerus Clausus process. For that I had to get my A-Levels assessed and 'converted' into German Abitur grades. There will be a body in each Bundesland responsible for doing this, and you have a pay a fairly small fee for the process (I think I paid 45 DM 20 years ago). They want to see your O-Levels AND A-Levels because a German Abitur has 10 subjects, including a mixture of arts and sciences, while A-Levels obviously have fewer and are more specialised. Because I hadn't done Maths after O-Level I was only allowed to study arts subjects, for example. I got an AAB at A-Level and this equated to a 1.3 at Abitur, which is pretty good and easily got me in to my programme of choice. So because A-Levels are more specialised they allow you to focus on your strengths and drop your weak subjects, so it's actually easier to get a good converted Abitur grade than it would be in Germany.

I don't know how they do the conversion though if you're German and have only done A-Levels without GCSEs, ie I don't know how they take into account that you haven't done the required subjects after 16. Germany doesn't have a GCSE equivalent, you just pass Year 10 and that allows you to start your Abitur.

Is that in any way clear?

A friend's daughter is considering Leipzig Uni at the moment and went to visit a few weeks ago, she said it was lovely and they're clearly keen to attract good students. There will be an international office which can answer conversion questions.

"German universities are poorly funded, they don't have the library/computer facilities and they don't have the different 'societies' that english universities have."

That varies considerably. Some programmes have excellent facilities which put the UK to shame (think of Fachhochschulen in the Neue Bundesländer), while others are cramming 400 students into a hall designed for half as many. It's true that German students tend to be older and more mature when they start, and that students are less 'nannied'.

HocusUcas Tue 17-Nov-15 20:14:38

Mud - finances aside - a good choice of very good universities!

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 13:11:55

Ok perhaps not kindergarten. More early secondary school age. I'll give you examples:

In the red brick very highly rated uni I went to recently the undergraduates are expected to sign in to each lecture/seminar/lab practical to prove attendance. This is for many many reasons not all because of the immaturity of students, but it is in part because students simply can't be trusted to take the initiative and turn up! Very childish.

There is a 'parents portal' type page on many uni websites and ucas too i think. How infantilising! There are also 'talks for parents' at uni open days.

On the first and last days of term hoards of parents drop off/pick up their kids from the halls of residence. This isn't uncommon even after the first year.

This is not my experience I'm referring to, this actually happens! It's a shame because it devalues the degree qualification that everyone pays through the nose for.

mummytime Wed 18-Nov-15 13:44:27

nearlyteatime101
signing in - I never had to do that at any of the Unis I went to, but have heard of it, it is certainly common in the US (but then your grade is affected by attendance and participation). Not childish for large courses, and does show at least a minimum of care - as without it in classes of 200+ you wouldn't have a hope of even the first signs that someone isn't coping.

UCAS parent portal - is because parents pay a lot, so have a big investment. Grants and loans don't cover even fees+accommodation. Less needed in Germany where it is more normal to live at home.

Parents taking students to and from Uni - because students often have to clear their rooms for the vacations - and having a car on campus is often very difficult/impossible (never mind the cost).

You seem to see parents still caring about their children as students being babied.

MyVisionsComeFromSoup Wed 18-Nov-15 13:53:49

nearlyteatime - not sure how you would propose students in self catering halls bring back all their stuff at the end of their first year by public transport confused. Just because parent collect, doesn't mean the DC are being babied, just that somehow a lot of stuff has to be moved from A to B, and maybe it's easier for mum or dad to pick up.

TheDrsDocMartens Wed 18-Nov-15 13:54:19

As a current student I have to scan into lessons. If you miss 5 you get an email asking if you're coping. In reality there's often 50% of the class missing and not penalised.
Foreign students can be penalised though and there's a lot at my uni hence the new system.

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 15:51:01

Yeah like said, there are a lot of reasons that attendance is recorded. One of those reasons is that students cannot be trusted to attend without incentive. At some point/points in ones time at university, students are often surveyed to find possible areas of improvement on their course. Lecturers find that increasing contact hours is almost always requested. These would then be provided, and students would not attend. Hence attendance records were introduced in part to illustrate that this request was being fulfilled. DrsDoc - its very disheartening that so many students miss classes that come at such expense to themselves and taxpayers.

Re ucas parent portal Mummytime, you have hit the nail on the head. The parents have a lot invested in their grown up children's life/education. Students should be studying for their own sake, not their parents. Parents, for better or for worse, have more of a say in their adult children's lives for longer. In this way they stay 'children' for longer.

As far as getting to and from uni Myvisions... I think you summed it up nicely at the end '...maybe it's easier for mum and dad to pick up'. Of course it is easier, but that doesn't mean it is helping anyone grow up and become a fully independent adult. I'm certainly not advocating leaving ones children in times of need, I would move heaven and hell if my children needed it. I'm only suggesting that this is the type of predicament that is likely to crop up time and time again and mum and dad bailing them out just because its the easiest thing to do is not going to help in the long run. Also, there are lots of students that don't have this facility and they cope, you just have to be creative in your problem solving. They might even learn life lessons along the way.

Yes I do think that some students are babied when 'caring' adults step in to rectify relatively everyday problems. I believe it has created a change in collective attitude and makes them difficult to teach. Its very unfair to the ones that are there to learn.

I love British universities, but the standard at undergraduate level is slipping down.

ragged Wed 18-Nov-15 15:58:49

So bizarre that English (European??) parents of university students are criticised for being supportive.

When DD goes to look at Unis I will be one of the main people she will bounce ideas off of, there are compelling reasons why my impressions and observations could be uniquely useful. Of course the university should curry my favour if they want to increase odds that DD will get a good impression of them.

We live in a paperwork age & if a university wants to expel someone for lousy effort they have to very clearly document the many ways that the student hasn't been making an effort.

disquisitiones Wed 18-Nov-15 16:02:48

I love British universities, but the standard at undergraduate level is slipping down.

What's your evidence that undergraduate standards are better elsewhere? I have worked as an academic in four countries (Europe and North America) and it definitely isn't true in my experience.

Germany and surrounding countries have large drop out rates and many students take a long time to complete their degrees. The UK has considerably lower drop out rates and the vast majority of students complete their degrees within the standard time frame. American undergraduates are babied (even at top Ivy Leagues) to a degree that would be unthinkable in top UK universities.

Standards are also very inconsistent in many European countries, as there are no systems of external examining, moderating exams and quality curriculum assessment is very loose.

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 16:16:48

Thank you for replying ragged. I didn't mean that parents shouldn't be supportive of their adult children studying at university. I'm sorry if that came across, I'm really trying to be clear and I'm aware that this hasn't worked.

I assume your referring to the 'parent portal' type web page when you say that the universities would be looking to curry your favour? Firstly i totally agree that a parent should be there to bounce ideas off. I suppose my response to that would be that the university should not really have to set up a specific web page to do this. They could just advertise their merits through the normal channels. I'm not saying that a parents portal is the devil (or not useful for that matter), I just think that its one of a few things that the universities do differently here (verses other EU) that may perhaps be leading the students to take a different attitude towards their university education. Becoming a bit more 'provider/consumer' rather than 'educator/student'.

Yes I agree also that if a uni wanted to boot out a student for poor effort they would have to have documents to prove their point. I've never personally known of this to happen so can't really say much more than that. However, for a university to kick out a student who doesn't attend it would be like shooting themselves in the foot! Missing out on all that cash for someone they don't even need to teach anything to!

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 16:28:38

Hi disquisitiones. I've no evidence that standards are better elsewhere, only personal experience. That said I didn't say that they were better anywhere else, just that they are slipping here.

I do think that universities here in the UK have a bigger incentive to keep their students on the courses. It's even possible to finish with a 'certificate of further education' for those who don't achieve an actual degree, i.e. didn't get an average of 40% or more in their assessments.

American university undergraduate students and babied to an extreme. Needless to say I don't think that is something we should aspire to, and nor does it excuse us. However, as UK system inevitably becomes more Americanised I do expect this will happen.

As for the external examinations in the European system, I had no idea, I'll be reading about that more soon I expect. so thank you.

Thank you for replying

titchy Wed 18-Nov-15 18:32:26

Teatime you're clearly unaware of the context English universities are operating in. Parents HAVE to contribute to the upkeep of their university kids where they can afford to. There is no access to funding other than the statutory amount of loan which often doesn't even cover hall fees.

University staff here are supportive of their students. We like to know if students aren't coping and signpost help if we can. One of the first signs someone isn't coping is not turning up. A good company would do the same for its employees. I certainly don't see that as babying.

If students are about to drop out we also require evidence of their last date of attendance so the SLC doesn't over charge the student. We also have to monitor attendance of overseas students legally.

Certificates and other exit routes are NOT awarded when someone gets less than 40%. They are awarded if someone gains over 40% but doesn't take as many modules as required for a degree.

The European context is very different. Students live at home (how does that make them less independent that UK students?).

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 19:11:55

I am aware of the context, I have the debt to prove it. My parents did not contribute to my upkeep in any way at all. I had a job throughout university working 36 hours each week. I am convinced that this job was the reason I walked into good employment straight after graduating. I paid my own rent and maintenance. Got a first class degree. Had a great social life. Did additional 'work experience'. Nevertheless I have tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt. Perhaps because of the low academic expectation and how few contact hours I had. My parents certainly did not HAVE to give me money.

I apologise for what I wrote about the award for getting 40%. I remember just after posting it is actually 50%.

Consuming higher education: why learning can't be bought (Joanna Williams) - interesting book.

mummytime Wed 18-Nov-15 19:15:10

"The European context is very different. Students live at home (how does that make them less independent that UK students?)."

This is exactly the point I was making. The majority of students in the UK live away from home. If their parents have a reasonable income, the funding they get is reduced in line with parental income. So parents have to support their student children. Even low income students struggle to pay rent, even with the full amount of maintenance - which is being phased out.
If I make a big investment I research it, whether that is a house, a car, or my children's education.

One of my children received careers advice which suggested they studied for a course which was heavy on continual assessment. I had grave doubts about this, knowing how they struggled to keep up to date with work, but did seem able to fluke exams. If I'm paying for the course or helping to pay, then I will try to influence their decision, to ensure they have the highest chance for success.
That is not babying them, but protecting my investment.

When looking at US universities I was surprised/shocked how often even extra curricula activities are all staff led; which is very different from the UK.

And from personal experience, the standard of education seems to be improving in the UK. A certain highly thought of university now has a syllabus for its degrees, so you know what to learn for the exams.
Also most new lecturers have to take some kind of training in teaching. All very different from my day.

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 19:37:52

Mummytime I understand entirely that you want a good return on your investment.

But this is entirely my point. The very fact that you (and tens of thousands of parents across the country no doubt) quite reasonably and sensibly want a good return and therefore take an active role in, what should be, your child's career choices, along with many other contributing factors, mean that adults studying at university are not ready for the demands it places upon them.

nearlyteatime101 Wed 18-Nov-15 19:42:43

And I think teaching to the syllabus is a completely nonsensical way to inspire creativity and ingenuity. Which university is it please? I would really like to look more into this development. Knowing what you need to learn for the exams seems entirely contrary to what is currently considered desirable.

disquisitiones Wed 18-Nov-15 19:49:21

And from personal experience, the standard of education seems to be improving in the UK. A certain highly thought of university now has a syllabus for its degrees, so you know what to learn for the exams. Also most new lecturers have to take some kind of training in teaching. All very different from my day.

Traditionally places such as Oxbridge did not have a rigid detailed syllabus because students were meant to have studied deeply enough to not need one. Giving a detailed syllabus in such contexts lowers the standards as students know precisely what to learn (and what not to learn) for exams, and therefore study much more narrowly.

Teaching training for academics is also known not to be strongly correlated with effective delivery of university level courses. Admittedly it is hard to measure teaching effectiveness but many measures used do not seem to correlate good teaching at university level with training in teaching.

Box ticking to try to prove quality of university education is increasing in the UK. I would not say that standards of educations are increasing. (In my experience Oxbridge students graduating in my subject are weaker than they were ten or twenty years ago as their starting point on entrance is lower.)

BTW one of the main reasons for introducing monitoring systems for attendance at lectures is international students rather than home students: universities are terrified they will be stripped of their ability to take international students, so they are monitoring attendance to be able to prove that such students are studying and not using their study visas just to enter the UK.

mummytime Wed 18-Nov-15 20:03:29

I have been influencing my children's career choices since they were tiny. All parents do.
Whether it is "University isn't for the likes of us."
Or the general expectation that most of them will go to University.

In my case it has included offering options that they might want to consider (eg. study overseas). For some options they need to get relevant experience, which they can be helped towards.

I am surprised when some friends children seem to only consider careers linked to the NHS. But then again lots of teachers are the children of teachers.

But this is true everywhere I think. Certainly my German pen friend's sister studied a course related to her taking over their father's business.

mummytime Wed 18-Nov-15 20:07:49

"Traditionally places such as Oxbridge did not have a rigid detailed syllabus because students were meant to have studied deeply enough to not need one. Giving a detailed syllabus in such contexts lowers the standards as students know precisely what to learn (and what not to learn) for exams, and therefore study much more narrowly. "

This might be true for English, but for subjects in the Sciences, it was disastrous - as there is too much to possibly know, and students did encounter exam questions on topics they might never have come across even if they attended all lectures and tutorials and read widely etc.

Also some of my lecturers could not teach, struggled to convey any information and at times one would leave the lectures knowing less than when you went in. Never mind the course that I missed the first 5 minutes of and never learnt what it was about (although by fluke it was the area I used for my doctorate at another University).

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