New German pathway college brand launched
01 February 2016
German Pathway Colleges has been established as a new private provider of bridge programmes into German universities for international students, opening a first college in Freiburg with more locations planned.
Operated by the Braun Foundation for International Exchange, the Freiburg college is located very close to the city center.
Dr Kurt Gamerschlag, Academic Director of German Pathway Colleges, said the Germany Pathway Colleges model was a contrast to the state-run Studienkolleg preparation programmes, which sometimes fail to successfully integrate international students.
“Our new German Pathway Colleges have, therefore, chosen a new approach to this support area which aims at integrating the services into the academic curriculum, especially into the German language instruction. Here classroom study will be complemented with out-of-class experiental learning in small, monitored groups that continuously gather samples of German everyday life through personal involvement.”
The curriculum at German Pathway Colleges includes German language preparation up to advanced (C1) level, alongside academic training in priority courses in one of three streams: natural sciences, technology or economics.
The goal of the preparation studies is to pass the Festellungsprüfung (FSP), a government-monitored assessment test that is normally taken after two semesters. On passing the FSP, students receive the Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (university entrance qualification), and are able to apply for specialty study at a German technical college or university. A failed assessment test can only be repeated once at the same pathway college.
Assessing international student recruitment, Kurt said that they would be expecting most applications to come from China, South East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, parts of Latin America and some Eastern European countries.
Introducing the location of the first college, he said, “Freiburg is one of the most popular university towns in Germany, both because of the famous university there, the quaint old town, and because of the fabulous surroundings between the Black Forest and the wine-growing Kaiserstuhl area, Swiss Alps and the French Vosges mountains. In addition, the climate down here in the south west is very mild.”
He added, “The Pathway College, with bright, modern-equipped lecture rooms and classrooms, spacious social room with kitchen facilities, cosy seating and modern computing facilities, generates a pleasant atmosphere and is highly conducive to learning.”
Regarding growth of the new pathway chain, Kurt explained, “The next one is planned in Berlin this year. Also, negotiations are under way in Munich, Heidelberg and Cologne. Further expansion plans include Karlsruhe in the south, and Bremen and Rostock in the north. Austria and Switzerland are also being looked at for the years ahead.”
The number of international students enrolled on higher education programmes in Germany increased by seven per cent to a record level of 301,350 in 2014/15, leaving the country well on track to reach a target of 350,000 by 2020.
Kurt emphasised the need for more private sector provision in the university preparation sector. The number of international pathway students in the public studienkollegs has remianed steady at around 3,500 to 4,000 over recent years, with hundreds of applications rejected due to lack of capacity, he said. “The German government has recently announced that funding for about double that number will be granted. In view of the enormous number of migrants choosing Germany as their country to settle in, the number of applications is highly likely to exceed the government’s projection through applications coming from applicants already resident in Germany, let alone those from outside the country.”
A special feature in the September 2015 issue of StudyTravel Magazine examined the growth in demand for German pathway programmes, with input from both providers and agencies.