The German university system
In Germany there are essentially three types of higher education facilities:
- universities of applied science
- art and music academies
While universities offer very academic courses, the defining feature of universities of applied science such as the Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences is the practical orientation of the courses that prepares you for the specific demands of professional life. The tightly organised courses and the good support provided mean you need less time to obtain your degree compared to universities. This in no way is at the expense of the transfer of innovative and research-relevant knowledge.
The universities of applied sciences have intensive research programmes with a strong focus on practical issues and applied problems.
The grading of academic achievements and theses at German universities of applied science ranges from 1 to 5 with the following meaning: 1 – very good; 2 – good; 3 – satisfactory; 4 – adequate; 5 – failed.
In recent years the structure and subjects of the courses have changed considerably as part of the Bologna Process initiated by the European ministers of education. The aim of this process is to create a uniform and consistent European university environment by introducing a recognised system throughout Europe for the credit, transfer and accumulation of academic achievements. This should greatly improve mobility within Europe, between universities of applied science and between courses of study.
One of the key reforms has been the introduction of a two-step system for qualifications with the bachelor degree as the first step and the master’s degree as the second. Doctoral degrees form the third step as an extension to the master’s degree. The Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences only offers bachelor and master’s degrees and does not have the right to confer doctoral degrees. Nonetheless, doctoral degrees can be completed in cooperation with supervisors from universities.
Another reform is the introduction of a credit point system based on the workload for academic achievements and examination results. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is a system recognised throughout Europe that enables academic achievements to be easily credited, transferred and accumulated within European educational institutes.
Several instruments have been developed to ensure the recognition of academic achievements that is key to international mobility. As a ‘free mover’ or exchange student you will become familiar with the following documents:
In the Learning Agreement the academic achievements to be completed abroad as well as their recognition are agreed between the student and both the home and host university. The Transcript of Records documents all the academic achievements completed and is therefore an important foundation for recognition of the academic achievement after international study. The Diploma Supplement provides information about the course and the qualification from the university of applied science.