In general, access to German higher education with foreign school leaving certificates is possible. As a basic requirement, the certificate has to be a higher education entrance qualification in the country of origin. In the European region and also with some non-European countries, access to higher education is regulated by international treaties.
The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) publishes recommendations for the evaluation of foreign higher education entrance qualifications for the purpose of studying in Germany since 1953. These recommendations can be found in the database 'anabin' under 'Schulabschlüsse mit Hochschulzugang'.
The recommendations contain a listing of all foreign certificates that qualify for studies at German higher education institutions. For certificates that do not qualify for direct entrance, the database informs about additional requirements. The evaluation recommendations are to be taken as a basis for recognition decisions according to the ‘Rahmenordnung für den Hochschulzugang’ (legal framework for entrance to higher education). They are used in all 16 Länder and are often embodied in legislation at Länder level.
Responsibility for the decision on the admission of German, foreign, or stateless applicants lies with the universities.
When applying for nationwide degree programmes with a numerus clausus, the application is to be directed to the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung 'Hochschulstart' (formerly ZVS). Applications for all other programmes are to be directed to the respective universities.