abi>> Ms Kourukmas, to whom do I turn if I wish to have my diploma recognised?
Petra Kourukmas: In Germany, various bodies are responsible for professional or school recognition. The universities themselves decide on admission. If you don't know whom to contact, you can send us an email - also in English or Arabic - and include a scan of your diploma. The address is email@example.com.
abi>> How do you decide what my degree is worth?
Petra Kourukmas: We don’t decide, we advise the competent authorities, and we orient ourselves on the educational system of the country in which the diploma was obtained. For example, if you have a high school qualification from Syria, you can study all subjects there. For medicine and other highly sought-after subjects, you also have to provide proof of a superior grade average. That is also the case here. If, on the other hand, you have a literary studies high school qualification, you can study subjects in social sciences, humanities or law - just like in Syria.
abi>> Can I enrol directly in a university as soon as I know that?
Petra Kourukmas: First of all, you should decide at which university you wish to study. On the homepage of the university you can find out whether you should apply directly or via Uni Assist, the central employment and service centre for international applicants in Germany, and whether you need to have your diplomas translated.
abi>> Where can I find a suitable translator - and what can I do if I cannot afford one?
Petra Kourukmas: The advisor or the university itself can provide you with a translator and perhaps also tell you where you can get assistance for the cost of the translation.
abi>> But the university entrance qualification alone is of no use to me if I don't speak German...
Petra Kourukmas: That's why you have to learn the language, preferably starting at the initial reception center. The Federal Employment Agency or the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) arrange language courses. Many universities offer their own intensive German courses. Knowledge of German is also required for admission to a preparatory college.
abi>> What is a preparatory college?
Petra Kourukmas: A preparatory college prepares foreign applicants for a degree course if the secondary education in the country of origin is not deemed sufficient. There you will have subjects such as mathematics or biology - depending on your study objective. You will also learn German. The advantage is that your German lessons are directly related to your studies. After the preparatory college, you take an examination that entitles you to begin your studies.
abi>> If I learn that my diploma does not qualify me for a German university - what do I do then?
Petra Kourukmas: You can make up for your lack of higher education entrance qualification through the second educational path, for example at evening schools or colleges. This is also possible at some vocational schools. Alternatively, you can decide which vocational training you would like to do. Let us advise you, just as we do with Germans who do not yet know exactly which profession they would like to pursue.
abi>> What about language skills?
Petra Kourukmas: That, too, is different. In the IT sector, for example, you can get quite far with English, but at vocational school you can't do without German. Many vocational schools offer additional language courses for non-Germans.
abi>> What happens if I could not take my diploma with me or lost it on the way here?
Petra Kourukmas: Then the university must evaluate your qualification differently. This takes place in three stages: Firstly, you must have a residence permit; secondly, your previous educational path must be credible; and thirdly, you may also have to prove what you already know or can do. For example, if someone says that they have studied civil engineering, they should be able to draw a construction plan. However, it is the universities that decide this.
In the Anabin database you can research how educational qualifications acquired abroad are evaluated in Germany. The search is carried out via “School degrees providing access to higher education”. The country of origin can be selected from the list. The publisher is the Standing Conference of the Education Ministers in Germany.