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Studying in Europe: Red tape hurdles when studying abroad

According to the makers, studying in Europe is incredibly easy - and in reality incredibly complicated. What is important?

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Studying in Europe - the hurdles are there

Europe is moving closer together. Many borders have already fallen in the EU. The universities also give special priority to international relations and, for example, on the homepage of the University of Bonn, warmly welcome foreign students.

However, there are still a number of bureaucratic hurdles that students from Europe have to overcome if they want to study in a neighboring country - especially if their home country is not part of the EU. Has studying really become easier in a united Europe?

Is studying in the EU easier?

“Not necessarily,” says Marie-Amelie Lawn from France. When she started studying in Germany, she had positive and negative experiences. Her French Abitur was recognized without any problems: “I didn't even have to translate the grades,” she says happily. Proof of finance, with which all foreign students have to prove that they have at least 1300 marks a month at their disposal, was also no problem for the Frenchwoman:

“A written confirmation from my parents was sufficient,” she says. Initially, however, it was different with the language, although she had learned German at school: “I had a lot of forms that I was supposed to fill out or the people in the offices just didn't understand,” she reports. In addition, the mathematics student had to pass the German language proficiency test (PND) in order to be able to study in Bonn at all.

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Typical bureaucratic hurdles

However, she found it a shame to have to take the oral exam on the first day of the lecture of all places. “As a result, I missed important introductions at the university. That could have been organized better ”, she annoys in retrospect and adds:“ Since I didn't know until the end of the language test whether I could really study in Bonn, I was able to look for a room very late and therefore have the first Semester only used temporarily. "

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Many foreign students, even if they come to Germany from an EU country, have similar or bigger problems than Marie-Amelie when they start studying. In order to keep the difficulties as low as possible, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in its brochure “Studium in Deutschland” advises foreign applicants to start planning one year before starting their studies. The brochure also explains the German higher education system and its admission requirements, lists the subjects that can be studied and gives the addresses of German universities.

If you want to study, you have to take care of a lot yourself

However, applicants from abroad have to take care of many things themselves, for example accommodation or any admission restrictions in their subject. However, it is positive that a certain percentage of subjects with restricted admission is reserved for foreign students. The DAAD also addresses the need for a visa:

Students from EU countries and some other countries such as Norway or Lichtenstein do not need a visa. All others have to apply for a visa at the German consulate or embassy in their home country if they have been admitted to the university. This visa is only valid for the duration of your studies.

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A lot is more difficult for applicants from non-EU countries

Anyone who does not come from an EU country must also have it checked whether his school leaving certificate qualifies him to study in Germany. Course achievements that have already been completed are not always recognized, as Luba Lobonosov reports. The Russian had already studied mathematics for four semesters in Moscow. In Bonn she had to start all over again with her studies. "In Russia we only go to school for ten years, the Russian school leaving certificate was credited to me here like a German secondary school leaving certificate," says Luba.

Therefore, in her case, the two years of study were rated as 12th and 13th grade. However, the Russian is quite satisfied with that: “Many of my compatriots have to prepare for the assessment test at a preparatory college, which gives them access to the university. I was spared that. " But Luba also had problems with the PND: "I took the exam after a year of language course in Marburg and then again in Bonn, because the Bonn university has stricter regulations than other universities and does not recognize PND exams from outside," she remembers themselves.

The greatest difficulty is the financing of the studies

One of the greatest difficulties for many foreigners without a scholarship is, in addition to the language, how to finance their studies. "Do not plan to organize your study visit by working in Germany!" it says in “Studying in Germany”.

The DAAD makes it clear: Students who do not come from the European Union have significant disadvantages because they are only allowed to work for three months during the semester break. Anyone who breaks this rule can be expelled.

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Going abroad as an Erasmus student

Christine Peters did not have any problems with financing during her ten-month stay in Italy. “My ERASMUS scholarship only covered the most necessary financial needs, but I also received an international grant”, says the student of history and Italian studies. However, before she had the scholarship in her pocket, she had to submit numerous applications: “The whole bureaucracy was quite cumbersome,” she still groans today. However, she was spared a language test, as is often the case: “My Professor said I went there to learn the language, ”she says.

ERASMUS (European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is an exchange program that the EU launched in 1987 to promote student mobility in Europe. ERASMUS has been continued since 1995 as part of the SOCRATES framework program, which aims to strengthen cross-border cooperation in the field of general education. A similar program has existed since 1990 for some countries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Mongolia: TEMPUS (Trans-European Mobility Program for University Studies) is intended to support the reform process towards a market economy and democratization of society through cooperation between the universities.

How does an ERASMUS degree work?

Students can take part in ERASMUS from the third semester at the earliest. You will then receive a partial scholarship for a minimum of three and a maximum of twelve months, which is intended to cover the additional costs that arise during a stay abroad. Tuition fees, which are the norm in many European countries, are not charged. The funds for these scholarships are passed on from Brussels to the universities via national ERASMUS agencies. How much a university receives depends on how many students and lecturers went abroad in the previous year as part of the ERASMUS program.

A university must also have a so-called university cooperation agreement with another European university, which regulates the exchange of students. These regulations should include, among other things, that the host university provides adequate support for the students and, for example, helps them find a room, and that study achievements made abroad must be credited to the agreed extent.

ERASMUS is not a sure-fire success

Christine didn't feel too much of either of these during her stay in Italy: “I had to look for a room or register with the Italian municipality all by myself”, she reports and adds: “Even the exams I took in Italy were only in Italian studies, not but recognized in history. " Nevertheless, the student does not want to miss the experience:

"Studying abroad broadens your horizons. An ERASMUS scholarship is the easiest way to go abroad, because it is relatively easy to get and some hurdles are eliminated." Christine would have liked to stay in Italy, but she couldn't imagineto finish their studies abroad. “I would just lose too much time taking the language test or catching up on academic achievements,” she explains.


Conclusion: Studying in Europe is still difficult but not impossible

Studying in Europe has become much easier, not least thanks to the ERASMUS program. Nevertheless, as the three examples show, there is still a lot to be done at the universities themselves to make it easier for foreign students to study in Germany and for Germans to go to a foreign university - especially within, but also outside of the European Union.

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2 responses to “studying in Europe: bureaucracy hurdles when studying abroad”

  1. View Profile says:

    Thanks for the numerous interesting hints, especially for studying abroad.

    • Simone Janson says:

      Thanks, I'm happy if older posts still find readers!

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