Studying without the usual qualifications
For a long time, only high-school graduates with an Abitur were eligible to study at university. As our society has evolved in recent decades, university has been opened up to new audiences. You no longer need to have an Abitur but can fulfill other requirements instead: According to the Lower Saxony Higher Education Act, you can also qualify for university entrance with, for example, a relevant Fachabitur (a subject-specific high-school leaving qualification intended for entrance into a university of applied sciences), a diploma from a university of applied sciences, or a vocational qualification like the German Meister or Techniker certificates. You are also entitled to study a particular subject at university in Lower Saxony if you have completed a three-year course recognized under the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz) and have gathered at least three years’ experience working in the same field. Our Advisory Service will be pleased to provide details.
The open-universities initiative had also given rise to Lower Saxony’s first collaboration between a university and a technical college: TU Clausthal and the Technology Academy of Braunschweig have been working in partnership since 2014. Anyone who has completed a vocational-training program in mechanical engineering or mechatronics at Braunschweig can have it recognized in the form of credit points when they start studying at Clausthal, with the result that they will need only two years to complete their bachelor’s program instead of three.
The direction of travel need not be only from Braunschweig to Clausthal, either. This collaboration can also offer the option for university students who drop out of their studies to try a different path towards vocational qualifications. In future, a student who breaks off an engineering degree program in the Upper Harz region without graduating will be able – despite lacking the requisite work experience – to transfer to the Technology Academy of Braunschweig. Credit points previously gained at Clausthal will be counted towards the Braunschweig program.
A subject-specific university entrance exam for prospective students with previous vocational training, known as a Hochschulzugangsprüfung, Immaturenprüfung oder Z-Prüfung, is another way to gain access to higher education in Lower Saxony. They are offered by universities themselves and count specifically for the degree program that the student in question wishes to take. To be admitted to the exam, you need to fulfill certain criteria, which are set in law by the relevant exam office subordinate to the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture and attached to NiLS, the Lower Saxony Teacher Training and School Development Office. Each university has appointed a member of its own staff to organize these exams. Once you pass your exam, you will receive a certificate that you can use, like an Abitur or high-school diploma, to apply for the degree program for which you took the exam.
All the information you need about getting to university in Lower Saxony without the usual qualifications is available on the Studieren in Niedersachsen portal.
Criteria for admission to the exam
- Main residence in Lower Saxony for at least one year (some exceptions possible);
- Completed course of vocational training lasting at least two years in an accredited or equivalent occupation, followed by at least two years of experience working in that occupation, or at least three years of experience in a different occupation; or
- At least five years of experience working in a job with requirements comparable to those of an equivalent job with formal training;
- Evidence that the student has prepared for the exam, provided either by a specialist from an institution of continuing education, a VWA business and administration academy, or a distance-learning institution, or a person who has a university degree in the chosen subject and has intensively supported the prospective student’s exam preparations.
Use this form to register for an entrance exam. The address you should send it to is given on the form itself.