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Study as a free mover without a partner university

Frau mit Mappe unter dem Arm in einer Bildungseinrichtung
© AdobeStock/olly

Would you like to study abroad for one or two semesters and already have a specific university in mind? But the university is not a partner university of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam? On this page we show you how you can still study abroad at your dream university by applying as a free mover.

What does it mean to go abroad as a free mover?

Applying as a free mover means: You plan and organise your entire stay abroad independently - from the application to the recognition of your achievements abroad.

You can apply to most universities worldwide. Find out for yourself about the admission requirements and application deadlines of the respective university. In some cases, European universities do not accept students as free movers. Therefore, always ask whether you can apply even if the university of your choice and FH Potsdam do not have a cooperation.

What is the procedure?

Start at least one year before

You are responsible for ensuring that all required application documents (e.g. language certificates) reach your receiving university in good time. Therefore, you should plan at least one year of preparation for your application as a free mover.

Contact the university of your choice

You can usually find information on how to apply on the website of your chosen university, usually under the heading "International Affairs". Contact the International Office of your future host university at the beginning. This will give you specific tips on the application procedure, language courses and accommodation options.

Agree on plans and recognition at the FHP

Even if you go abroad individually and independently of our exchange programmes, we recommend counselling on the topic of recognition of achievements you make abroad. To do this, contact the head of your degree programme or the Erasmus representative in your degree programme or department. Feel free to contact the International Office if you do not yet know this person. We will be happy to put you in touch with them.

Organise financing

A semester abroad is always associated with additional costs and you should therefore take care of the financing in good time. There are a number of scholarships that can help you with your project. The Auslands-BAföG might also be an option for a stay as a free mover. Get an overview of suitable financing options on our website. Make an appointment with the International Office for an individual consultation, for example during the office hours.

Submit application by the deadline

The host university usually has one or two fixed deadlines per year by which you can submit your application as a free mover. Keep to these deadlines and submit your documents a little earlier so that you can respond to any queries in good time. Your application documents should make a good impression in terms of content and form. The university abroad determines the form, content and scope of your application documents. Below we give you some tips on how to apply.

Take leave for the time abroad

If you study abroad for one or two semesters, you will still remain enrolled at FH Potsdam (FHP). Therefore, be sure to re-register on time with the payment of the semester fee. You have the option of applying for a semester off or applying for an exemption/reimbursement from the semester ticket. Get advice beforehand at the FHP Study Service!

Placement agencies

Free placement agencies arrange study places for you for semesters abroad. Counselling and placement with the agencies is usually free of charge. However, you should plan for the fact that you will have to pay tuition fees at the foreign university. Tip: The Auslands-BAföG ) provides a tuition fee subsidy of up to 5,600 euros (repayment-free).

Here you will find a selection of free placement agencies:

GOstralia! GOmerica!
Stays abroad in Australia, New Zealand, the USA or Southeast Asia

College Contact
Stays abroad worldwide

Institute Ranke-Heinemann
Stays abroad in Australia, New Zealand and Canada

Asia Exchange
Stays abroad in Asia, South America and Europe

World of Students
Stays abroad worldwide

Studentin benutzt einen Textmarker, um in einer Liste zu markieren. Zu sehen ist die Tischoberfläche, ein Block, diverse Stifte, sowie die Hände. Im Hintergrund ist eine Tastatur zu erkennen.
© Andrea Hansen

Going abroad for a while - a good idea! But you have to think of a few things on the way there. The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) checklist will help you with this.

You can also find many answers to questions about visas, health insurance, bank accounts, finding accommodation, working during your semester abroad, etc. on the websites of the placement agencies.

DAAD checklist for studying abroad

Application documents - The standards

There are now standards that are required when applying for a semester abroad at a university abroad. The general rule is:

  • Take enough time to read through the requirements and take care of the documents to be submitted in good time.
  • Make sure they are presented attractively and are complete. If possible, do not send handwritten forms and make sure to send the files as PDFs. If you share files via portals and sharing platforms, name the files sensibly (for example, NameApplicant_NameDocument_Date) and make sure you have set an expiry date for the downloads. Point this out or remove the expiry date.
  • Have someone proofread, especially for applications in foreign languages.

We also give you the following tips for the application documents:

Most of the time, you apply via an online form that allows you to upload the rest of your application documents. If you send documents by e-mail, we recommend saving all files in PDF format and always filling out documents on the computer instead of handwriting them.

CVs are usually submitted in tabular form, with all relevant information presented in bullet points. If CVs are to be submitted as continuous text, this is usually clearly stated on the website of the host university.

In addition to the facts in the CV, also write what sets you apart from other applicants. This includes extracurricular activities such as social, political, social, cultural or sporting involvement. This allows you to draw conclusions about your social skills, time management and other soft skills.

Also make sure that your application is appealing, has a consistent language style and is complete.

Universities abroad usually require one or even more letters of recommendation from university teachers.

In such a letter of recommendation, the lecturer should discuss your achievements, your academic plans and your social skills, and state what distinguishes you from your fellow students.

The reviewer should therefore know you well enough to be able to make such statements. Therefore, ask for a personal interview in which you briefly explain why you need the reference letter, what contents would be particularly important for you and what formal requirements there are on the part of the foreign university. Bring your CV, your letter of motivation and a list of the courses you have attended with your evaluator to this interview.

Such an expert opinion should usually be written in English. Often, you can also submit the same report for scholarship applications.

Reviewers do not always have time to meet your application deadlines. Therefore, please allow at least four to eight weeks for your review!

The Transcript of Records lists the courses and modules you have attended, including grades and ECTS credits. The host university can use this document to get an overview of your course of study and achievements.

Unfortunately, the Transcript of Records cannot be automatically generated in English at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. This means that it is up to you to translate the German-language transcript of records from MyCampus and have it confirmed. Contact the International Office for further information.

All foreign universities require proof of your language skills in the language of instruction. Your chosen university will be able to tell you which language certificates you need to provide and what language requirements they have for you.

In most cases, these are results of standardised tests such as TOEFL or IELTS, DELF/ DALF for French and DELE for Spanish-speaking universities.

Some universities also accept DAAD language certificates, which you can obtain at the Zessko of the University of Potsdam for a fee.

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