Students on Bachelor degree courses are often more satisfied than students working for Germany’s traditional university diplomas
Students on Bachelor degrees programmes in social sciences often assess the relevance of their degrees to the job market as well as the professional and practical relevance of their courses more positively than students working towards a Diplom, a traditional German university degree (awarded by HEIs such as Fachhochschulen, Hochschulen and universities). Almost 29 per cent of those students working towards traditional university diplomas consider the relevance of their courses to the job market as good or very good compared to 43 per cent among students on Bachelor degree programmes. The figures for the same comparison among students in natural sciences were slightly higher, increased from 33 to 44 per cent respectively, and slightly lower in languages and linguistics, 19 per cent compared to more than 21 per cent. The percentages were lower, however, among engineering and humanities students.
A mixed picture again emerges in terms of the support students believe they receive if they express an interest in a study period abroad: based on a scale of 1 to 6 (with 1 being the top mark and 6 the lowest), the mark given by students on traditional engineering diploma programmes at universities rose from 2.6 to 2.4; the mark improved from 2.8 to 2.6 among students on university social sciences programmes. There were only slight improvements or deteriorations in the marks awarded by students on Bachelor programmes for this question.
There are similar mixed results in terms of the success of the Bologna process in reaching its objectives in the evaluation of the supervision offered to students during the period of study: in languages and linguistics, Bachelor students give an average mark of 2.4, whereas students on traditional German Magister degrees give an average mark of 2.6. Both groups of students on engineering and humanities students are satisfied to the same extent.
All these figures are the results of a recently published study by the CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development called “Bologna on the road to success”. “The results show that the discussion about Bachelor programmes is too one-sided,” said Frank Ziegele, head of the CHE. “On the one hand, there are problems related to the achievement of the Bologna objectives that students legitimately bemoan, on the other hand there are many positive developments that are often not considered at all in public debates. The fact that so many higher education institutions are making enormous efforts to achieve the Bologna objectives is already being noticed in part by the students.”
When considering students’ overall satisfaction with respect to the supervision, support for study periods abroad and the relevance of their courses to the job market as well as their practical and professional relevance, it becomes obvious that these aspects receive worse evaluations from engineering students on Bachelor degrees than among engineering students on Diplom courses at Fachhochschulen. There is little difference in the evaluations among students of natural sciences and humanities at universities and business studies at Fachhochschulen. The total of changes is small and the general trend at universities with respect to social sciences, business studies and languages and linguistics is positive. Mr Ziegele stressed that these trends are backed up by good or bad examples respectively. He said that it was important for those departments still struggling to introduce the Bachelor degrees to learn from the good examples for the time being.
The study is based on an empirical analysis of the assessments of students that are interviewed as part of the annual CHE UniversityRanking. The evaluations of students on Bachelor degree courses and traditional German programmes (Diplom and Magister) were compared in the respective subject groups. The study is based on the students interview carried out over the last three years (the usual three-year cycle in which all subjects in the CHE UniversityRanking are assessed) so the analysis included information from some 94,000 students.