Year Abroad Accreditation

The following summary was sent to the list by Dr Winifred V. Davies (wid@aber.ac.uk) on 17 May 1999.


Some time ago I asked for information about how institutions accredit the year abroad and whether / how those institutions who asked students to bring back Scheine incorporated those marks into the final-year mark total. Here, finally, is the analysis of the responses.

18 institutions replied. Three institutions do not give students the option of bringing back Scheine, but accredit the year abroad by means of dissertations or year-abroad logs.

The following is a summary of the responses by those institutions who do require students to bring back Scheine (even if only as an option):

1. How many Scheine per semester are students required to bring back?

Most places ask for 2. A few specified in their responses what sort of Schein it had to be (Hauptseminar- or, more often, Proseminarschein).

2. Do you accept Teilnehmerscheine or only Leistungsscheine?

A narrow majority accepts Leistungsscheine only. Most of the rest accept both as long as at least one Schein (or 50%) is a Leistungsschein.

3. Do you accept DaF Scheine?

The majority do so, although ocasionally with a proviso (e.g. they count less than other Scheine, they may only take one per year).

4. Any differences between requirements for Single and Joint Honours?

Not all replied to this question. Most institutions who did respond seem to treat both categories the same as long as they spend the whole year in Germany or Austria. One or two places require them to bring back a Schein in the second subject as well as German.

5. Do you require them to write a dissertation while abroad?

The majority do not require a dissertation as well as Scheine. One institution requires a dissertation from non-Erasmus students instead of Scheine; one requires a log-book and a short essay as well as Scheine; one requires a 1,500-word report as well as Scheine. More than one insititution offers students who fail to get a Leistungsschein the chance to redeem themselves by writing a long paper which is then marked by the home uni.

6. Do you use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to work out equivalences for German marks?

Five institutions say yes, unreservedly; 2 say yes, with some adjustment by home uni.; 5 say no.

Those who say they do not use ECTS either do not feed the marks from the year abroad into the final degree classification (i.e. the marks are used to accredit the year abroad but do not contribute to the degree classification), or they re-mark year-abroad work themselves.

The impression I got from comments on the last question was that ECTS is seen as problematic even by institutions who use it. Some institutions are against it on principle, as they consider it too crude a tool. A couple of institutions try to control their students' learning during the year abroad by re-marking work or/and by testing students when they return to Britain (oral tests and translation tests were mentioned by two institutions).

Because of the problems of finding equivalences for marks awarded by German and Austrian universities (and because of the need to be fair to students who spend the year out in other ways), 6 institutions said that they accredit the year abroad, but do not feed the marks into the final degree classification.

I hope this summary of the responses is of interest. Our Dept will certainly find it useful when we get down to deciding the future shape of the year abroad, and will hope to benefit from others' experience.

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Last modified: 18 May 1999.