Historical accounts of Civic Education in Germany — or Political Education , as it is labeled there officially — of course is, in a democratic sense, only able to be narrated as the history of Civic Education in the western Federal Republic of Germany. Those crimes, especially the genocide against the European Jews and other sections of the population like Roma, homosexual or handicapped persons and others, who were ideologically declared inferior, were committed by the totalitarian National Socialist mass movement and regime of its elites — at least by all of the state institutions and without any resistance by most of the population rather the opposite. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content.

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Language: English German. Objective: Due to the increasing degree of internationalization and migration movements, German universities must increasingly pay attention to the cultural diversity of their students. Numerous studies have shown that there is still considerable room for improvement at German universities with regard to the integration of foreign students. Therefore, the University of Cologne aims at improving study conditions for students from third countries especially non-EU by introducing a compulsory study entry semester Studienstart International.

In this study, we ask if effects on the dropout rates of international students before the introduction of Studienstart International can be observed after the introduction of the study entry semester.

In addition, results of a survey of foreign students about familiarizing themselves with the German university educational system and on social contacts with fellow students are presented. The comparison of dropout rates before and after the introduction of Studienstart International as well as the results from a survey of foreign students are presented descriptively.

Statistical significance of the difference in dropout rates between the two groups of students is tested using a Chi 2 -test. Conclusion: With the introduction of the compulsory study entry semester Studienstart International , the University of Cologne aims at improving integration of foreign students. Although dropout rates could not be significantly reduced, survey results suggest that Studienstart International can certainly support international students.

Reliable statements on the success of the study cannot yet be made due to the small number of cases. A follow-up study will deal with this question. International students show increased interest in studying in Germany.

As a result of the Bologna Process and the associated joint internationalization strategy of the Federal and State Governments in , the number of foreign students at German universities has risen steadily in recent years [ 1 ].

According to the Federal Statistical Office, in for the first time more than , foreign students studied at German universities. Germany is now one of the most popular university locations for foreign students after the USA and Great Britain [ 1 ]. Despite these encouraging developments, for example, the survey results of the Deutsches Studentenwerk Organization providing social, financial and cultural support services to students from on foreign students in Germany show that there is still room for improvement in the integration of international students [ 3 ].

Especially the search for accommodation, contact with German students and the wider population as well as finding their way around the German university education system still cause difficulties for many international students.

Many of the respondents also mentioned struggling with communicating in German. Further studies show that in addition to study-specific factors, the social integration of international students is an important factor in academic success [ 4 ]. For example, international students are less likely to consider dropping out of university if they find an inclusive environment at university, and are better able to cope with the study requirements [ 5 ]. Regarding medical degree programs, international studies also show higher dropout rates among international students [ 7 ], [ 8 ].

Furthermore, they show that foreign students spend significantly more time at university before graduating successfully [ 9 ]. A study from German-speaking countries shows a significantly longer duration of study until the final exam, especially for non-European medical students [ 10 ].

As early as , the University of Cologne responded to the rising numbers of international students and their high dropout rates. It is the first German university, which has started to set up a compulsory study entry semester for third-country students Studienstart International who wish to complete their entire undergraduate studies at the University of Cologne.

Various studies have already confirmed that especially students from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa have difficulties with the expected behavior and forms of learning at German universities [ 12 ]. The Medical Faculty of the University of Cologne also saw the greatest need amongst these student groups. This article examines the question of whether effects on the dropout rates of international students can be seen before the introduction of Studienstart International or after the introduction of the study entry semester.

In addition, international students who have passed through Studienstart International were asked about their social contact with German and international students as well as about finding their way around the university education system, as these issues are considered the biggest problems in integrating students into their study environment.

The University of Cologne is currently one of the largest German universities with more than 50, students. Due to its geographical location and the wide range of fields of study offered, the university is particularly attractive to international students.

The University of Cologne wanted to be the first university in Germany to improve the study conditions for foreign students from third countries by introducing the compulsory study entry semester Studienstart International. A primary objective of the study entry semester is not only to guide international students but also to offer them orientation aids and opportunities for participation and integration into their study environment right at the commencement of their studies.

Studienstart International lasts at least one semester and directly precedes the degree course. The contents range from various specialist or foundation events in the field of study to subject-specific German courses through to seminars on inter-cultural awareness and study competencies see Table 1 Tab.

At the events for improving German language skills , special attention is given to the teaching of German as a scientific language. Students take a grading test so they can receive support according to their existing language skills. It has been shown that the existing knowledge levels of German of students varies widely and that students often have not achieved the level of language competence required for studying at university — despite having passed the DSH German Language Test for University Entrance.

The competence-based German course only has to be completed as part of the program if a student achieved Level 4 or lower in the German grading test. If students do not reach Level 4 during the course of the semester, another pre-semester course in German as a Foreign Language weeks must be completed during the semester break after Studienstart International.

The Seminar Interkulturelle Sensibilisierung Inter-cultural Awareness Seminar was conceived in order to facilitate the potential of cultural diversity, the students bring with them, to achieve effective and successful cooperation see also [ 13 ], [ 14 ]. The seminar is open to students from all faculties and enables international and local participants to meet in a protected space. Exchanges and reflection on values, culture and communication take place under professional guidance.

The seminar is interactive and includes topics such as clarification of the concept of culture, cultural models and inter-cultural communication. The connection to relevant inter-cultural encounters dialog with international patients and colleagues is emphasized on, and presented in detail through Critical Incidents.

In addition to regular and active participation, an essay must be written to fulfill the course requirements. The study competence course provides students with an overview of the relevant forms of communication at university and introduces them to the usual tasks of a student.

Getting to know things such as learning strategies and time management strategies enables students to reflect on their behavior in terms of learning and studying, thus develop helpful methods for successful studies. The course, amongst other things, covers topics such as time and self-management at university, exam formats with particular reference to the multiple-choice exams at the medical faculty and communication at the University of Cologne email correspondence with lecturers, etc.

In addition to regular and active participation, a presentation must be held to fulfill the course requirements. Orientation events and intensive support complement Studienstart International.

Mentoring programs and tutorials , which delivered by student assistants, flesh out the offers of Studienstart International , always with the aim of integrating international undergraduates as early as possible into the overall student body.

Contents specific for the faculty of medicine are also part of the orientation series, such as a visit to the transfusion and anatomy sections, a lecture on the German health system and an introduction to the contents of the pre-clinical part of studies.

The Tutorial on German terminology intends to prepare students for the medical terminology practical, which takes place during the first semester in Cologne. While students must pass the subject-specific biology practical , the chemistry practical is optional.

For the biology practical, international students are prepared for this exam in a tutorial and have three attempts to pass the exam as part of Studienstart International. When enrolling in the first semester, the subject-specific biology practical and the chemistry practical will only be credited if the students have passed the respective exams. International students receive a program of events tailored to their needs and knowledge during Studienstart International.

They are closely supervised and looked after in Studienstart International by staff members of the Department of International Affairs and the faculties, so that in the event of potential problems an early intervention can be made.

After successfully completing Studienstart International , students will be enrolled directly in the first semester. The prerequisites for admission to the degree program are passing the above-mentioned exams and regular participation in the above-mentioned courses see Table 1 Tab.

Passing the chemistry practical is not a requirement for passing Studienstart International. If the students do not pass the study entry semester Studienstart International they can once re-take the semester. Every winter and summer semester approximately nine students are enrolled in the Studienstart International program for the human medicine degree course.

The following Table 2 Tab. In the course of the investigation, the study progression of foreign students were examined with regard to study dropout the termination of studies without a degree. Students who have changed university are not included in the statistics, since successful graduation at another university is a possibility. The dropout rates listed in this study are not directly related to interview data to identify reasons for dropping out. The Studienstart International team at the University of Cologne developed the questions asked in the final survey see Attachment 1.

The written survey is voluntary and anonymous and conducted in the last week of the program. Since not all of the questions asked in the survey are useful for the research question of this specific article, only the questions relevant to the study are analyzed.

The questions relate to social contacts with fellow students as well as getting their bearings in the university education system. The questions have to be answered with yes or no or on a three-point scale.

The Chi 2 test is used to measure the difference between the dropout rates between the students who took Studienstart and those who did not, and descriptive statistics are used to evaluate the survey data. The paper-based final survey, which is carried out after the Studienstart International semester has been completed, by a total of students.

A comparison of survey results between international students who have and those who have not completed the entry-level semester cannot be carried out, because the survey was only conducted with the introduction of Studienstart International. However, contact with other international students was more pronounced. The University of Cologne has introduced a mandatory study entry semester for foreign medical students Studienstart International , with the aim of improving the study conditions through intensive support.

The expectation of contributing to a reduction of the dropout rate through the introductory semester, while there appears to be a tendency towards reduction, there is not yet statistical proof, even though well-known issues such as lack of orientation in the university education system, social contact with German students or deficits in German language skills are addressed in the program. The extent to which Studienstart International , for example, leads to shorter study duration or an improvement in the exam results of international students could not be analyzed in the context of this study, because the results are not significant due to the small number of cases.

However, the positive survey results from international students suggest that Studienstart International can certainly support in the problem areas mentioned above. A lack of orientation in the German education system is often seen as a negative influencing factor on study progress and is still mentioned as one of the main difficulties of foreign students [ 3 ], [ 15 ].

According to Rech, disorientation in the German education system can be remedied by effective support [ 5 ]. Not only the lack of orientation causes many foreign students problems, but many also feel that contact with German students is difficult [ 3 ].

Overalls, the results should be seen as positive, but they also reveal that there is yet more room for improvement in terms of social contact with German students, because only just under half have contact daily or several times a week.

This may result in contact with students with a German educational background becoming more difficult. Against this background, supplementing Studienstart International with special tandem or mentoring programs between foreign and German medical students should be considered. Mentoring, for example, makes it possible to bring international and German students together, so that a subject-related and inter-cultural exchange can take place on both sides [ 16 ]. In order to be able to establish contact with German students in particular, good to very good German skills are essential.

In the context of the program, a focus is therefore placed on teaching the German language, because in addition to vague ideas concerning the degree course, a lack of knowledge of the German language can often be a reason that leads to dropout by foreign students [ 17 ]. In a survey of the medical study deaneries in Germany from , the majority of the interviewed representatives saw the German language as the biggest challenge for international students [ 11 ]. However, the focus must not only be on the linguistic and scientific integration of foreign students into the existing university education system, but also on inter-cultural differences such as different educational experiences, other learning styles but also other forms of communication and contact should be taken into account [ 18 ].

Although the results presented in this study show that the introduction of Studienstart International did not significantly reduce dropout rates, numerous studies confirm that successful commencement of studies generally contributes significantly to study success [ 4 ], [ 19 ], [ 20 ]. A lack of social integration and identification with the university as well as a deficit of key interdisciplinary qualifications make it particularly difficult for international students to successfully commence their studies [ 4 ].

Against this backdrop, the study entry semester, i. For this reason, closely supervised study entry should ideally be followed by closely supervised degree studies [ 21 ]. After completing Studienstart International , this task is taken up by the study advisors of the medical faculty of the University of Cologne.

Study progress analyses are carried out regularly after the first semester in order to identify students with low success rates regardless of nationality.


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Language: English German. Objective: Due to the increasing degree of internationalization and migration movements, German universities must increasingly pay attention to the cultural diversity of their students. Numerous studies have shown that there is still considerable room for improvement at German universities with regard to the integration of foreign students. Therefore, the University of Cologne aims at improving study conditions for students from third countries especially non-EU by introducing a compulsory study entry semester Studienstart International.


From an international perspective, the Social Survey is a unique long-term time series analysis. Nothing quite like it has ever been conducted in other countries. German students were questioned for the first time back in Since then, every third year the survey has examined the social and economic situation of students as a cross-section analysis. The most recent survey is the 21th Social Survey carried out during the summer semester.

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