Background information about the Pre-College Fulda programme
University entrance qualification
Anyone wanting to study in Germany must have a suitable university entrance qualification (Hochschulzugangsberechtigung – "HZB"). Many applicants from outside the EU, however, have a school-leaving certificate that does not directly qualify them to study in Germany. If this is the case, they usually then complete one or two years of study in their home country or attend a foundation or preparatory course in Germany which qualifies them to enrol at a German university.
An alternative to this traditional procedure is Pre-College Fulda – Preparing International Students for University Studies and Careers. This programme offers prospective students from abroad without suitable entrance qualifications alternative ways to access higher education or vocational training in Germany.
What is unique about this orientation programme is that it prepares international participants for different educational and career pathways, helping them identify and prepare for the kind of training or education in Germany that best suits their abilities and interests.
Skilled labour shortage and university education versus vocational training
Due to the shortage of skilled workers, the recruitment and training of specialised personnel from abroad is becoming increasingly important. Many international applicants are initially interested in studying in Germany. This is why many universities offer preparatory programmes to help students enter higher education with additional German language and specialist courses.
But academic study is not for everyone – a fact that is frequently reflected in high dropout rates, longer study times and comparatively poor academic performance. The German vocational training system as an additional educational path is often relatively unknown abroad or not considered of equal value. As a result, many school-leavers start a university degree, although vocational training might have been a more suitable option.
Recent studies have shown that prospective students from abroad not only lack academic preparation, but that they also receive insufficient support and guidance after they have completed preparatory programmes.
Elements of the Pre-College Fulda programme
International students often concentrate on their studies and neglect to develop practice-related contacts. They also receive insufficient guidance during the practical phases of their studies or before entering the German job market, making it more difficult for them to find the right job after they have graduated. As a consequence, many international students who actually want to work in Germany fail to find employment and return to their home countries.
The Pre-College programme fills these gaps not just by preparing international students for higher education or vocational training in Germany but also by helping them establish contacts to businesses in the economic region of Fulda at an early stage and by involving the University's International Career Service from the very beginning.
Participants are also supported by the International Office from the application phase until after the end of the programme: it helps students find accommodation, sort out visas, apply for subsequent study programmes or vocational training, and offers regular consultations and additional services if required.
The Pre-College Fulda project is part of the programme "Open Universities – Utilising Potential, Preparing Transitions". The project runs from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2022 and is funded by the European Social Fund.