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GermanyGermany

Official Name:Federal Republic of GermanyPopulation:82,5 million people
Capital:BerlinState language:German
Form of Government:Federal RepublicAdministrative division:Germany consists of 16 states
International phone code:49Time difference with Moscow:-2 hours
Monetary unit:Euro (EUR)Rate:1 EUR = 69.59 RUR

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Germany

INFORMATION ABOUT GERMANY AND ITS EDUCATION SYSTEM

Basic Information about Germany.

Germany is located in North Central Europe, on the Great North European Plain. It is bound by Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. The capital of the country is Berlin. The population (82.5 million in 2005) is almost entirely Germanic with Germans accounting for 94.4%. Ethnic minorities include Danes, Greeks, Italians, Serbs, Slovaks, Spanish and Turks. Germany is a federal republic with its government based in Berlin. The Federal Government consists of the Federal Chancellor and the Cabinet of Federal Ministers. The Federal President has mostly ceremonial duties. In addition, there are sixteen state governments and thousands of local government communes. Each state has its own constitution and a state parliament.

Higher education in Germany.

Germany has a long tradition in education, science and research. There are 340 higher educational institutions located throughout Germany. Those interested in studying in Germany can choose between universities and university-status institutions, such as the technical universities, the universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen), or the colleges of art, music and film. All state higher educational institutions are open to students of all nations.

German Universities.

German universities are not merely institutions which provide education and training; they are also the places at which independent, pure and applied research is pursued. University departments offer the following study courses: medicine, science, engineering, arts and humanities, law, theology, economics and social sciences, and agriculture and forestry.

Technical Universities.

Originally, and as the name implies, technical universities restricted their teaching to technical and engineering disciplines. However, over the years, they have developed into more comprehensive higher educational institutions. Hence, students can now also take arts and humanities degree courses at technical universities. Nevertheless, the focus of their activities continues to be directed towards engineering and science.

Universities of Applied Sciences.

Students are increasingly taking courses at any of Germany’s universities of applied sciences, particularly since the programmes are shorter and have a more practical focus than in university courses with their greater research orientation. The education and training provided by colleges of art and music in Germany aim to prepare students for careers as professional artists or musicians, as well as teachers of artistic subjects. Courses at a college of music or art differ substantially from those at a university.

Other University-Status Institutions.

Apart from the above-mentioned higher educational institutions, Germany also has colleges of education at which teachers are trained for primary schools, lower secondary schools, special needs schools, and, in some cases, standard secondary schools and lower grammar school classes. In general, however, teacher training has been integrated into the university structure.

Academic Reforms and the Bologna Process.

Germany’s higher education institutions are passing through a period of extensive change. One of the first European governments (with Germany as a member) signed the Bologna Declaration in 1999, to create a single European Higher Education Area. This involves introducing comparable programmes and degrees at institutions in the participating countries so that the range of studies offered throughout Europe is both transparent and compatible. The objectives are to increase student mobility, facilitate the recognition of academic degrees abroad and encourage higher education institutions to compete for the “best minds”. A total of 46 countries have now signed up to the Bologna Process. Its core element is based on two cycles of academic study: Bachelors programmes (BA) – the first cycle, and Masters programmes (MA) – the second. Many countries have already approved Promotion (Doctorate) as a third cycle. Performance in Bachelors and Masters programmes is assessed in accordance with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). ECTS measures the total student workload required for successful completion of the degree programme. One ECTS credit point corresponds to a student workload of 30 hours. Currently two organisational structures of study exist in parallel at German universities: the new two-cycle system of Bachelors andMasters programmes and the traditional degree courses that lead to a Diploma or Magister Artium degree.

• Bachelors degree – is usually the first degree with a professional qualification. The duration of studies is 3-4 years. Students must hold a general higher education entrance qualification (Abitur). To gain a Bachelors degree between 180 and 240 credit points are required. Bachelors programmes deliver the principles and fundamentals in a subject, method skills and a broad professional orientation.

• Masters degree – is the second degree after 1-2 years (60-120 credit points). Students can enter a Masters programme either directly after completing the Bachelors or after spending a few years working in their profession. The programme enables the students to deepen and extend their knowledge. To gain this degree is a necessary prerequisite for entering a doctoral programme.

• Diploma (specialist) – traditional study. Students complete the course with a Diplom thesis and written and oral examinations.

• Promotion (Doctorate) – seen as the third cycle of the Bologna Process in Germany. A Doctorate can only be gained at university. It involves the production of a dissertation (an independent research paper) that contains new scientific findings plus defence of the dissertation in an oral examination. Doctorates can take between 2-4 years. Holders of Masters or equivalent degrees (Diplom/First state examination/ Magister Artium) are admitted.

Structure of Programmes.

Bachelors and Masters programmes are divided into modules, i.e. study units made up of thematically-related courses, like lectures, seminars and exercises which involve a student workload of 6 to 10 hours per week. Students receive ECTS credit points for each successfully completed module. They need to score a specific number of credit points to complete the programme and graduate.

Traditional degree programmes (Magister, Diplom and State examination) are divided into two

Study stages:

1. Basic study stage (Grundstudium)

2. Main study stage (Hauptstudium)

The first stage delivers the basic content of a subject in 4 semesters (2 academic years). At the end of this stage students pass the intermediate exam which entitles them to continue their studies in the main study stage. During the main study stage students can specialise in their core study areas. This stage takes another 5 semesters to finish with an extensive examination. Subsequently students graduate with a Diplom degree that counts as a professional qualification.

Start and Length of Studies in Germany.

The academic year is generally divided into two six-month periods called semesters. The winter semester usually begins in October, the summer semester in April. Students are expected to use the time between the semesters to pass examinations or to complete internships. Each academic subject has its own set of study regulations that specify the standard time in which the programme should be completed. The degree course includes practical semesters and semesters abroad, plus the final examination phase. Many degree programmes allow 9-10 semesters for graduation: Bachelors programmes – 6 semesters and Masters programmes – 2 – 4 semesters.

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