University degrees lose their value

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Step 4

Have you found a course or apprenticeship that interests you? Then it's time to apply. To do this, you must be able to show certificates that prove your suitability. Petra Kourukmas, a consultant at the Central Office for Foreign Education at the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in Bonn, answers questions about the recognition of foreign qualifications.

In order to be admitted to a degree, your educational qualification must be recognized in Germany.

Photo: Martin Rehm

abi » Ms. Kourukmas, who do I contact if I want my certificate to be recognized?

Petra Kourukmas: In Germany, various bodies are responsible for professional or school recognition. The universities themselves decide on admission. If you do not know where to contact, you can write an email to us - also in English or Arabic - and include a scan of the certificate. The address is [email protected]

abi » How do you decide what my degree is worth?

Petra Kourukmas

Photo: private

Petra Kourukmas: We don't make decisions, we advise the competent authorities, and we orientate ourselves towards the education system of the country from which the certificates come. If, for example, you have obtained a scientific secondary school diploma in Syria, then you can study all subjects there. For medicine and other highly sought-after subjects, you must also provide evidence of a special grade point average. That's the way it is here too. If, on the other hand, you have a secondary school diploma in literature, you can use it to study subjects in the fields of social sciences, humanities or law, just like in Syria.

abi » Can I enroll directly at a university as soon as I know?

Petra Kourukmas: First of all, you have to decide which university you want to study at. On the university's homepage you can find out whether you are applying directly there or via Uni Assist, the central work and service center for international applicants in Germany, and whether you need to have your certificates translated.

abi » Where can I find a suitable translator - and what do I do if I can't afford one?

Petra Kourukmas: The advisory body or the university itself can name a translator and perhaps also tell you where you can get support for the cost of a translation.

abi » The university entrance qualification alone is of no use to me if I don't speak German ...

Petra Kourukmas: That is why you have to learn the language, ideally starting with it in the refugee accommodation. The Federal Employment Agency or the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) arrange language courses. Many universities offer their own intensive German courses. German language skills are also required for admission to a preparatory college.

abi » What is a preparatory college?

Petra Kourukmas: A preparatory college prepares foreign applicants for studies if the schooling in their country of origin is not yet sufficient. There you will then have subjects such as mathematics or biology - depending on the study objective. You also learn German. The advantage is that the German lessons are directly related to the course. After completing the preparatory college, you will take an exam that entitles you to start studying.

abi » If I find out that my certificate does not qualify me for a German university - what do I do?

Petra Kourukmas: You can catch up on the higher education entrance qualification on the second educational path, for example at evening grammar schools or colleges. This is also possible at some vocational schools. Or you think about what kind of training you would like to do. Let us advise you, just like Germans who do not yet know exactly what profession they want to take up.

abi » What about language skills?

Petra Kourukmas: That too is different. In the IT industry, for example, you can get quite far with English, but you can't go to vocational school without German. Many vocational schools offer additional language courses for non-Germans.

abi » What if I couldn't take my certificate with me or I lost it while trying to escape?

Petra Kourukmas: Then the university has to check your qualifications differently. It works in three stages: firstly, you must have a residence permit, secondly, your previous educational path must be credible, and thirdly, you may have to prove what you already know or can do. For example, if someone says they studied civil engineering, they should be able to draw a construction plan. The universities decide on this.

More info

In the Anabin database you can research how educational qualifications obtained abroad are rated in Germany. The search is carried out via "school qualifications with university entrance". The country of origin can be selected from the list. The publisher is the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.


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