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News vom 28.10.2015

Higher Education Pact eight years on: Baden-Württemberg benefits most from growing student numbers

The upward trend in student enrolment in Germany continues. The number of first-year students increased by 43 per cent between 2005 and 2013. The majority of these additional students enrolled at HEIs in North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Universities of applied sciences and engineering have benefited in particular from this development.

In 2005, 350,000 people embarked on a study programme in Germany. Eight years later, over half a million students started university. Compared to the 2005 benchmark, a total of 650,000 additional first-year students enrolled in higher education between 2006 and 2013. This 43 per cent increase in first-year students each year was facilitated by the Higher Education Pact, concluded in 2007. By initiating this pact, the Federation and the federal states (Länder) made arrangements to create additional places at university to cope with the double intake of Abitur cohorts.

CHE Executive Director Jörg Dräger takes stock: “In a joint display of strength, higher education institutions and policymakers have succeeded in considerably expanding the German higher education system. If it hadn’t been for the Higher Education Pact, hundreds of thousands of potential students would not have found a place in Germany.”

A study conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education entitled “Und wo studieren die jetzt alle?” (And where are they all studying now?) depicts how these additional first-year students are distributed. Four out of five of these new students started university in an area state in western Germany, 60 per cent or so in North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria alone. North Rhine-Westphalia had the largest intake of additional first-year students, totalling some 145,000, followed by Baden-Württemberg (130,000) and Bavaria (110,000). The greatest beneficiary of this development is Baden-Württemberg, which managed to increase its share of first-year students in Germany from 13.9 per cent (2005) to 15.3 per cent (2013).

When it comes to the city-states, Berlin exhibits the strongest growth; however, Hamburg and Bremen also managed to expand their capacities. As stipulated in the Higher Education Pact, the eastern German federal states managed to keep their numbers of first-year students stable. These states have experienced a drastic decline in the number of people old enough to start university, but this deficit has been compensated for by students from other federal states. Thus the proportion of school leavers from western Germany at HEIs in the eastern part of the country doubled between 2005 and 2013. Added to this was a significant increase in international freshers across the whole of Germany. The number of international first-year students has increased in proportion to their German counterparts.

One problem arising from this development is the student–teacher ratio, which has declined from 54.1 to 62.7 students to each professor on average. In recent years, the federal states mainly invested in additional human resources in mid-level academic positions, enabling the student–research assistant ratio to remain constant. In contrast, expensive professorships involving long-term financial commitments were created more infrequently. CHE Executive Director Jörg Dräger warns: “It must be ensured that the expansion of the higher education system does not lead to ‘growth pains’ at the students’ expense. Students must continue to have access to professors and to be supervised by them.”

The types of higher education institution benefit from the sharp increase in students to a different extent. Universities of applied sciences are among the winners in the expansion of the number of places available. The proportion of first-year students at universities of applied sciences increased from 32 per cent (2005) to 40 per cent (2013). Private universities of applied sciences also managed to increase their student numbers substantially, with an increase of more than 180 per cent.

Law, economics and social sciences dominate at the subject level. A total of 40 per cent of the additional first-year students decided to pursue a study programme from one of these subject groups. Engineering came second, experiencing a growth in numbers. In 2005, one in five freshers (19 %) enrolled on an engineering programme. In the years that followed, more than one in four (28 %) of these additional first-year students started studying engineering.

About the study:
CHE Consult was commissioned by the CHE Centre for Higher Education to analyse the whereabouts of additional first-year students since 2005. The investigation period was from 2006 to 2013. The benchmark for the additional first-year students are the figures from 2005. Data supplied by the Federal Statistical Office was used as the basis for the study. The study “Und wo studieren die jetzt alle?” was written by Christian Berthold, Ronny Röwert and Wencke Lah. The publication is part of the CHE priority theme “Higher education is becoming the norm”.

Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.

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Britta Hoffmann-Kobert
Britta Hoffmann-Kobertmehr
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