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Frequently asked questions

Questions and answers on spending time abroad

Planning and looking for information

There are many reasons for choosing to study abroad. We recommend that you should first and foremost be clear what your personal motivation is for spending time abroad. Once you know what expectations, hopes and aims you have when it comes to spending time abroad, you will be able to find your way more easily around the wealth of opportunities available.

Reasons for a stay abroad may be:

  • Increasing your subject knowledge
  • Exploring academic/scientific issues in more depth
  • Improving your language skills
  • Gaining initial work experience
  • Developing skills in dealing with other cultures
  • Experiencing something new
  • Facing a new challenge and personal development

The ideal time for a stay abroad depends on why you are going abroad (to study, for an internship, language course or summer school, or to write your final thesis) and on the requirements of your degree programme (structure, teaching units which stretch over several semesters).

Generally speaking, shorter stays (language course, summer school) and internships abroad are possible from the first semester of study.

If you want to study abroad, it is better to wait until a later semester when you have a good grasp of your subject:

  • Bachelor’s: from the 3rd semester
  • Master’s: from the 2nd semester
  • Degree programmes leading to a State Examination: from the 4th semester

Depending on the type of stay, the length of time spent abroad can vary from a week (summer school) to a full year (studying abroad). The length of time you spend abroad depends on your objective. If you just want to get an initial impression of a country or brush up your language skills, then a few weeks may be enough. If you would like to really get to know a country well and submerge yourself in its language and culture, then it would make more sense to spend a semester or even a year there.

A general rule of thumb is that you should start researching and preparing for the stay abroad roughly one year before you plan to go. For some countries (e.g. USA) you have to start even earlier, as applications for some scholarship programmes (DAAD, Fulbright) have to be submitted as much as 18 months before the planned commencement of the stay abroad.

Sometimes, a stay abroad can be organised at shorter notice, in particular traineeships, language courses or summer schools.

The language skills you require for a stay abroad depend on your host institution. Generally speaking, you require a solid grounding in the teaching or working language in order to be able to actively participate in lessons or complete your tasks during your internship. You are well prepared to study or work abroad if your proficiency in the relevant language is equivalent to at least level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference.

In many cases it is also possible to spend time abroad with a less advanced knowledge of the relevant language. Information on required language skills is available from:

  • Programme coordinator (FAU exchange programmes)
  • Employer abroad (internships)
  • Scholarship organisations
  • Host university abroad (for stays abroad organised independently as a free mover)

The FAU Language Centre offers a wide range of language courses to help you obtain the language skills you need.

Information on funding a stay abroad is available on our website.

There are several people you can contact at FAU if you have questions about spending time abroad as part of your degree.

The Office of International Affairs works with all faculties and is the first point of contact if you have questions on the following:

Please consult your points of contact at the faculties if you have any subject-related questions concerning your time abroad and questions concerning faculty or degree programme-specific exchange options:

Questions about taking leave:

Questions on accreditation of achievements obtained abroad:

Opportunities for studying in an English-speaking country abroad within the framework of FAU exchange programmes depend which degree programme you are enrolled in. Many of the exchange places offered at FAU are only available for students of particular degree programmes.

Options for studying abroad at FAU partner universities in English-speaking countries (Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, Canada, USA, South Africa):

At the current time, FAU does not offer any options for a study exchange with New Zealand.

It is also possible to organise a study stay abroad independently, outside the exchange options offered by FAU (free mover). You should bear in mind that tuition fees are charged in a lot of English-speaking host countries, which you have to pay yourself if you do not take part in an organised exchange.

Possibilities to study abroad in English are not only available in English-speaking countries. A number of universities in Asia, the Netherlands, Northern and Eastern Europe offer lectures and seminars in English. Information on lectures and seminars offered in English is available on the websites of the foreign universities.

A good place to start finding out about studying abroad is the website of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Under ‘Länderinformationen’ you can find information (in German) about higher education systems and universities abroad.

Initial information on the possibilities for studying abroad as part of an FAU exchange programme available on our website. The coordinator for the exchange you are interested in will be able to answer any detailed questions you may have. The foreign universities’ websites also give information about the various options for studying there.

Organisation and preparation

You can take study leave in order to study or complete a traineeship abroad. If you take leave in order to spend time abroad, your studies at FAU are put on hold. As this means that you remain enrolled at FAU, you must remember to re-register in time. A semester of leave does not count as a study semester, however. Even if you have been granted leave from FAU to study abroad, you can and should obtain course achievements abroad and have them accredited when you return to FAU. The FAU Student Records Office will be happy to answer any questions you may have about taking leave.

The accreditation officers for the specific subjects and the Examinations Office are responsible for accrediting course achievements obtained in countries other than Germany. Detailed information and a list of accreditation officers are available on our website.

Please note that course achievements from abroad are not accredited automatically. You need to actually apply for accreditation yourself.[/hinweis]

Accreditation is granted as follows:

  1. Before going abroad: Discuss your intention to study abroad with the accreditation officer responsible for your degree programme, and possibly draw up a learning agreement.
  2. During your time abroad: Remain in touch with your accreditation officer and consult with him or her before making any changes.
  3. Before returning from abroad: Remember to bring all the documents required for accreditation back with you (seminar plan, module or course descriptions, transcript of records).
  4. Once you have returned to FAU: Ask the accreditation officer to complete and sign the application for accreditation. Submit the application for accreditation to the relevant Examinations Office. The Examinations Office will then enter the accredited course achievements into your student account.

Depending on your destination, the reason for your stay abroad and the length of time you intend to be away, you may need a visa, a residence permit or a work permit.

Please note that you cannot enter a country as a tourist if you are intending to study or complete an internship there. The simplified entry requirements for tourists do not apply. You should therefore take care to find out in good time about the entry and residence regulations which apply to you. Information on entry regulations can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office (information only applicable to German citizens) and from the embassies and consulates of your destination.

Plan sufficient time for applying for a visa. In some countries you have to provide proof of certain immunisations and health certificates before you can enter; again, you shouldn’t underestimate the time you will need.

When preparing for your time abroad, you must make sure that you have sufficient insurance cover. The following are particularly important:

  • Health insurance
  • Accident insurance
  • Liability insurance:

Since 1 January 2006, the ‘European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)’ has been accepted in all EU countries as well as in Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. It replaces form E 111 but, unlike the E 111, it is only valid for temporary stays abroad (holidays, transfer of employees, job search, study stays) and may only be used for services necessary on medical grounds.

You can obtain an EHIC from your statutory insurance company. To find out whether you already have an EHIC, check the back of your insurance card for the EU star sign. If you are privately insured, you should contact your health insurance company to find out which services will be covered in other European countries.

For stays abroad outside of the European Union, it is worthwhile taking out additional private health insurance. Please also look into what is required by your host university abroad. In some cases you are required to take out insurance specifically offered by the university itself.

If you receive funding from the DAAD or one of its partner institutions, you may opt for insurance cover via the DAAD group contract which, next to health insurance, also includes accident insurance, liability insurance and luggage insurance. The same type of insurance packages for stays abroad are also offered by other insurance companies.

FAU exchange programmes

FAU cooperates with a number of foreign institutes of higher education. Students at FAU have the opportunity to study abroad for one or two semesters at many of these partner universities.

The range of FAU partner universities you can choose from for studying abroad depends on the degree programme in which you are enrolled at FAU. There are only a few partner universities which accept applications from students of all faculties. Most FAU partner universities only accept applications from students from certain degree programmes or a certain faculty.

The FAU exchange programmes available to you depend on what you are studying at FAU. You should first of all find out which opportunities FAU offers for students on your degree programme.

There are three steps to carrying out your research successfully:

  1. ERASMUS+ programme: Study stays in Europe and partner countries
  2. Partner universities for your faculty or your degree programme
  3. Direct exchange programme for students of all faculties: study stays in Asia, Europe (not ERASMUS+), Canada, Latin America, USA

Your faculty will be happy to advise you about the partner universities available for the faculty or specific degree programmes:

There is not a uniform procedure for applying for exchange places at FAU partner universities and no one application deadline which applies to all exchanges. How to apply, when to apply and where to apply all depend on which partner university you are applying for.

Generally speaking, the following applies:

  • Deadline for exchanges starting in the winter semester (either for one semester or a whole year): between November of the previous year and February of the year you plan to travel
  • Deadlines for exchanges starting in the summer semester (remaining places; just one semester): in summer of the year before you plan to travel

There is not a uniform procedure for applying for exchange places at FAU partner universities and no one application deadline which applies to all exchanges. How to apply, when to apply and where to apply all depend on which partner university you are applying for. Please therefore be sure to get details in good time from the office responsible for the exchange with the university you are interested in.

Generally speaking, the following applies:

  1. ERASMUS+ exchange: If you would like to study at an ERASMUS partner university you should apply to the ERASMUS coordinator for your subject.
  2. Partner universities of your faculty or your subject: apply to either the International Office of your faculty or the chair in charge of arranging the partnership.
  3. Direct exchange programme for students of all faculties: Please apply to the Central Office for International Affairs.

If you are interested in several exchange programmes, you can apply to more than one at one time.

The Erasmus programme is a European Union educational programme.

ERASMUS+ offers two options for students:

  • “ERASMUS+” study abroad: Exchanges with FAU’s ERASMUS partner universities in Europe and selected partner countries
  • “ERASMUS+” work abroad: Traineeship places are not allocated as part of programme, but financial support is offered for traineeships organised by students themselves in member states of the European Union (including oversee territories), as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Norway and Turkey

There are a number of benefits to studying abroad with ERASMUS+: exemption from tuition fees at partner university, monthly mobility grant, simplified application procedure, simplified transfer of credits and a special assistance/service programme at most host universities.

The ERASMUS+ traineeship programme offers financial support for completing an internship.

Yes, you can take part in several ERASMUS+ exchanges. You are entitled to 12 months of funding from ERASMUS+ (work abroad or study abroad) in each phase of your education (Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, doctoral degree).

No, that is not possible. The only exception are interdisciplinary degree programmes such as industrial engineering and management or degree programmes from one faculty which are very closely related in terms of content. In this instance, please check with the office responsible for the exchange with your preferred university whether they can accept applications from students studying a different subject.

First and foremost, exchange places at FAU partner universities are allocated on the basis of how qualified applicants are. The selection criteria vary from programme to programme. Please contact the office responsible for the exchange with your preferred university to find out details.

It is difficult to say how likely it is that your application for a place on an FAU exchange programme will be successful. Demand for certain exchanges is very high (often those to English-speaking countries), whilst only very few students apply for other exchanges. The situation can vary from year to year.

Our advice to you would therefore be to not become unduly anxious, and just apply for the exchanges you are interested in – you may be lucky. If you are flexible concerning the host university and destination, there is a good chance that you will get a place on an FAU exchange.

You can always organise a study stay abroad independently, irrespective of the partnerships FAU has. You then complete your stay abroad as a so-called free mover.

The effort required to organise a stay abroad as a free mover is greater than if you take part in an FAU exchange programme, in particular because it involves much more research. The advantage is that as a free mover, you can choose to study at universities which are not one of FAU’s partner universities.

One challenge often faced by free movers are tuition fees which are incurred in several countries. As a free mover, you are not exempt from tuition fees and have to pay them yourself. You should therefore consider how to finance your stay well in advance of your planned journey.