The number of students without Abitur has doubled since 2010
57,000 people in Germany without a traditional higher education entrance qualification are currently pursuing academic degrees – the highest number ever so far. The ratio between male and female students is about even; almost every other student without Abitur is over the age of 30. These findings were established recently by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The so-called third route into higher education, which has been in existence throughout the federal territory for nearly ten years now, enables people with professional experience to qualify for entry to higher education. This option is even applicable for disciplines subject to restricted admission, such as medicine and pharmacy.
The number of students without Abitur has more than doubled since 2010, reaching a new peak of 57,000 in 2016. This figure has also increased among those starting out at university. The percentage of first-year students in the federal territory who do not hold a traditional entrance qualification currently stands at 2.6 per cent. The student and graduation rates are 2 and 1.5 per cent, respectively. The number of students who entered higher education without a formal academic qualification and successfully completed their chosen degree programme has been steadily growing in recent years, reaching its highest level so far in 2016 – with 7,200 graduates.
“The combination of professional and university education is increasingly becoming the norm. People no longer have to choose one route or the other. Qualified nurses or master craftsmen and women are no longer a rarity on campus, and reflect just another element of the diversity of the student population at German higher education institutions,” stated CHE Executive Director Frank Ziegele, commenting on the new record.
The individual federal states continue to develop at very different rates in this regard. The three federal states with the highest proportion of first-year students without Abitur are Hamburg (4.6 per cent), North Rhine-Westphalia (4.2 per cent) and Berlin (3.6 per cent). Saarland brings up the rear, being the only federal state not to hit the one per cent mark (0.8 per cent).
For the first time, CHE also analysed data on the sex and age of students who qualified for higher education via the third route. Around half such students were aged between 20 and 30, but the 30 to 40 age group was also strongly represented, making up around one-third of all students without Abitur. There are slightly more male students (55 per cent) than their female counterparts (45 per cent). A striking feature is the fact that, in later life over the age of 40, more women take the plunge into higher education than men.
“The figures show that courses that cater for lifelong learning in tertiary education are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, around one-third of those who graduated in 2016 without holding an academic higher education entrance qualification were over the age of 40,” pointed out Sigrun Nickel, Head of Higher Education Research at CHE. “The professional and life experience that such students bring into the classroom are a benefit not only to their younger counterparts who go to university straight after school, but also to the teaching staff,” stated the expert.
Only very few are aware of the fact that students without Abitur may even pursue subjects such as medicine and pharmacy, which are subject to restricted admission throughout Germany. In such cases, the grade achieved in the master craftsman’s examination or Fachwirt examination, for example, is assessed in place of the Abitur grade in the application process. Around 700 of the 107,000 people studying medicine at present in Germany secured a place via the third route. Each year, around 150 people without Abitur start studying medicine and dentistry. CHE has brought out a new publication summarising the qualifications and supporting documents required to achieve such a place at university. The publication also contains useful tips for the application procedure.
In 2016, more than half of all first-year students without Abitur (55 per cent) pursued subjects from the areas of law, economics or social sciences. Engineering sciences ranked second (20 per cent), followed by medicine / health sciences (12 per cent) in third place. Universities of applied sciences are much more popular than universities among students without Abitur. Almost 61 per cent of entrants without an academic qualification for admission to higher education in 2016 opted to study at this type of HEI. Slightly more than one-third started studying at a university, and around four per cent entered an academy of art or music.
For all subjects, the general requirement for applying for a place at a university or a university of applied sciences without the traditional entrance qualification is a completed apprenticeship and proof of professional experience. Prospective students can choose from over 8,000 degree programmes throughout Germany.
The online study guide:
The online study guide www.studieren-ohne-abitur.de provides detailed information, including the latest facts, figures and data concerning developments at the federal and state level. The guide is based on information provided by the Federal Statistical Office for the year 2016. The study guide enables prospective students who have no academic higher education entrance qualification to find out detailed information about admission options to HEIs and the degree programmes they offer. The portal also contains lots of useful information and services such as a qualification and advisory check.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.