Germany has launched a standardised test of German as a foreign language as part of its drive to make its universities more attractive to foreign students.
The Deutsch als Fremdsprache Test (TestDaF) will for the first time make it possible for people who want to study in Germany to take language entrance exams in their home countries.
Christian Bode, general secretary of the German Academic Exchange Service, which led a consortium to develop the test, said: "When this consumer-friendly way into German universities is established, we will be a good step further towards our internationalisation process."
About 700 students took the first TestDaF on April 26 at 50 licensed test centres in 20 countries.
Hull University's department of German is the only test centre in Britain, but students will be able to sit it at Goethe institutes from November.
The test examines reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Results are graded from one (worst) to five (best). Grades three and above are deemed a pass.
It will be up to individual universities to decide what grade of language proficiency they want from prospective students.
The TestDaF Institute has received three years' start-up funding but after that will be self-financing. Students pay €90 to €110 (£56 to £69) to sit the test.
The test is one of a number of initiatives to attract foreign students to Germany. Statistics suggest such efforts are beginning to pay off.
In 1998-99, Germany attracted 115,000 foreign students, 7 per cent of its total student population and more than twice as many as 25 years ago.
The opening of Eastern Europe has been another reason for the increase.
Polish students represent the fourth largest national group of foreign students at German universities.