New record: 50,000 students without Abitur
Never before in Germany have so many people entered higher education without academic eligibility for entry to a university or university of applied sciences. This figure almost doubled between 2010 and 2014. These are the findings of calculations conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The demand for entering higher education without Abitur has been increasing steadily for years. While in 1997 only 8,500 or so people were studying in Germany despite having no academic higher education entrance qualification, by 2014 there were some 49,800.
The biggest increase was between 2010 and 2014. During this period, the number of students without Abitur (A-levels) almost doubled, based on a figure of 25,700 in 2014. In line with this development, all 16 federal states considerably expanded their options for enabling access to higher university without Abitur, step by step.
The number of first-year students and graduates without academic eligibility for entry to higher education also reached record levels in 2014. There are currently 14,000 such first-year students, which equates to 2.8 per cent of all first-year students. This represents a slight increase of 0.2 percentage points compared to the previous year.
By contrast, the number of people with vocational qualifications who successfully completed university experienced an outright boom. In 2014, this figure increased by around 1,000 compared to the previous year, totalling 5,300, representing a 22 percent increase. These statistics show that the growing number of first-year students with a vocational background is gradually having an effect on the increasing number of graduates.
“Nowadays, the diverse range of today’s educational biographies on campus is no longer imaginable without students who were academically not eligible for entry to higher education,“ stated CHE Executive Director Frank Ziegele. “In particular, universities of applied sciences have been quick to welcome those with vocational qualifications,” added Sigrun Nickel, Head of Higher Education Research at CHE: “Around four per cent of first-year students at universities of applied sciences started studying without academic eligibility for entry to a university or university of applied sciences. Universities of applied sciences are therefore more popular among this target group than universities, which have just under two per cent.”
Against this backdrop, CHE’s annual data monitoring also involves identifying the three HEIs in each federal state with the most first-year students without an academic higher education entrance qualification. 22 per cent of these are private HEIs; 78 per cent are publicly administered. The HEI with the most first-year students without an academic higher education entrance qualification in Germany is the FernUniversität in Hagen. “The fact that distance learning programmes are particularly appealing to this target group is also apparent at other HEIs in Germany. However, this type of study requires a great deal of self-discipline, which not everyone has,“ said Sigrun Nickel.
With regard to their choice of subjects, half of the first-year students without an academic higher education entrance qualification opted to study law, economics or social sciences (50 per cent). Next came linguistics/cultural studies and engineering, which were chosen by 14 and 13 per cent, respectively. According to the experts at CHE, a remarkable 10 per cent embarked on a study programme in medicine/health sciences in 2014, up from only 0.7 per cent in 2002. “This significant increase could be a result of the continuing academisation of the healthcare professions,“ speculated Sigrun Nickel.
CHE’s calculations revealed a differentiated picture at the federal state level. For the first time ever, more than five per cent of first-year students in two federal states – Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia – entered higher education without Abitur. In four out of five eastern German federal states, on the other hand, the percentage is declining. “There is now an even bigger gap between the high percentages of first-year students without Abitur in western Germany and the low proportions in the east,“ Sigrun Nickel confirmed. We must keep an eye on this development.
The minimum requirement for applying for a place at university without academic eligibility for entry to a university or university of applied sciences is completion of an apprenticeship and the ability to provide evidence of relevant work experience. Prospective students can choose from almost 7,000 programmes in Germany.
For more information, visit the online study guide at www.studieren-ohne-abitur.de. This website contains all of the latest data calculated by the CHE Centre for Higher Education for the year 2014 based on information provided by the Federal Statistical Office. The online study guide is an information resource provided by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. It was established with funding from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. Prospective students without an academic higher education entrance qualification can find detailed information about entrance options for HEIs and the range of courses offered here.