Academic institutions release teaching and examination regulations in order to form the statutory framework of academic programs. Because of the fact that these regulations are worded using legal terminology and are often very complicated, students often do not know how to satisfy these laid down program requirements. This can lead to needlessly long study times. In addition, academic boards have to supply an amount of courses that fits the students' actual demand that is a difficult task because there is often only little information available. Frequent changes of those regulations and the existing of parallel valid different regulations of programs leading to the same degrees may aggravate these problems. In order to be able to offer software support to handle these problems, a computer-understandable representation of academic programs and their examination regulations is needed. In this paper, we present and explain our approach, based upon ontologies. It defines a meta-model that allows such semantic representations. Instantiations of the ontology can be used within a framework, e.g., to implement decision support systems that can help students to decide how they can satisfy the corresponding program requirements, or that can help academic boards to forecast the students' demand on certain courses, or examinations.
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