Accreditation practice in Germany is marked by federalism, because as an educational topic it falls in the area of the sovereignty of the Bundesländer. Although the procedures for the accreditation of qualifications acquired abroad (may) differ therefore in principle from one Bundesland to the next, there are three basic principles that apply nationwide and that will be presented in the following.
Academic Versus Occupational Recognition
Until now, educated foreigners, independent of their nationality, only had a legal claim to an academic accreditation procedure. This procedure verifies the equivalence of school and university certificates and achievement in order that access may be granted in Germany to further training or study courses. For this purpose, even before the coming-into-effect of the BQFG, despite the presence of decentralized structures attributable to educational federalism, there were clear regulations for applicants from all countries of origin.
The occupational accreditation procedure, on the other hand, serves the aim of allowing immigrants in Germany to (continue to) work in the occupation they have learned. In contrast to EU citizens and Spätaussiedler [people of German origin emigrating from eastern Europe after 1980: trans.], however, who could invoke the 2005/36/EC directive and the German Law on Expelled Persons [German acronym: BVFG], the citizens of third countries had until now no legal claim to such a procedure. Each competent accreditation agency could decide independently if on a voluntary basis it should accept or reject the application of the third country citizen for an appropriate accreditation procedure.
Regulated Versus Non-Regulated Professions
To this can be added the subdivision into regulated and non-regulated professions. In regulated professions (such as that of physicians and teachers),
The Principle of Origin
Before the BQFG came into effect, the influence of the origin of an educated foreigner played a decisive role in the recognition of qualifications acquired abroad, since, as previously mentioned, there was a legal basis of such recognition only in the case of EU citizens and Spätaussiedler.
This text is part of the policy brief on Interner Link: "Procedures for the Assessment of Qualifications Acquired Abroad in Transition".