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News of 04.07.2018

Winter semester 2018/19: Hannover has the highest proportion of numerus clausus subjects in Germany

Numerus clausus was introduced in Germany 50 years ago. Around 40 per cent of degree programmes starting next winter semester are subject to restricted admission. This is the conclusion reached by the latest Numerus Clausus Check conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. Hannover has the highest proportion of numerus clausus subjects among Germany’s major university cities (>30,000 students); at the federal state level, Berlin and Hamburg come top.

Germany’s three city-states and Saarland are the federal states with the highest proportion of numerus clausus (NC) subjects. Berlin has the highest percentage (64.8 per cent) of degree programmes subject to restricted admission starting in winter semester 2018/19, followed closely by Hamburg (64.4 per cent). Saarland and Bremen took third and fourth places (approx. 60 per cent each). Thuringia has the lowest proportion of NC subjects (20.3 per cent). In this federal state, applicants can enrol directly for four out of five degree programmes starting next winter semester, without a selection procedure taking place based, for example, on Abitur examination grades.

In total, 41.1 of all degree programmes in Germany are subject to NC, representing a 1.3 percentage point decline compared to the previous year. The percentage of restricted-entry degree programmes has decreased in twelve federal states, and considerably so in Hamburg and Thuringia (by around eleven and eight percentage points, respectively).

Of the 19,000 programmes currently on offer, around 2,500 have been launched within the last five years. At the same time, the proportion of degree courses subject to NC has fallen by 4.4 per cent. CHE Executive Director Frank Ziegele welcomes this development: “The significant drop in the national proportion of numerus clausus subjects is an indication that higher education institutions are coping better and better with the boom in students.”

The proportion of NC subjects also varied considerably within the federal states. While 62 per cent of all degree programmes in Cologne are subject to restricted admission, this is the case for only one-third of programmes in the neighbouring city of Düsseldorf. Hannover again takes first place this year among the major university cities with a student population of more than 30,000, ahead of Karlsruhe and Cologne. In almost two-thirds of all degree programmes offered in Hannover, Abitur examination grades play a role in selection. In fact, 86 per cent of all Master’s degree programmes delivered in the state capital of Lower Saxony are subject to course entrance restrictions.





At the subject level, the group with the highest proportion of NC degree programmes in Germany is Law, Economics, Social Sciences and Humanities (approx. 52 per cent). In contrast, students can enrol on around 70 per cent of all degree programmes in Languages & Cultural Sciences, irrespective of their grades.

The percentage of degree programmes subject to restricted admission at universities (37.4 per cent) continues to be lower than that at universities of applied sciences (45.6 per cent). CHE experts have noticed that the proportions of NC subjects in Bachelor and Master’s programmes have been converging for several years. There has been a particularly strong decline in the case of Bachelor programmes. However, the proportion of numerus clausus restrictions at Bachelor level (43.4 per cent) continues to be higher that at the Master’s stage (39 per cent).

The closing date for applying for a place on many restricted-entry degree programmes ends in mid-July. Given the substantial differences in numerus clausus restrictions, study author Cort-Denis Hachmeister recommends that prospective students remain calm: “In many cases, those not wanting to study Medicine, Pharmacy or Psychology and who have a degree of flexibility as to their choice of study location and type of higher education institution will be able to find an equivalent alternative that is not subject to restricted admission.”

This year, CHE has again produced an accompanying publication in which it addresses key questions concerning numerus clausus and the admission procedure at German higher education institutions. The latest publication also explains, for the first time, the conditions of applying for a place at university pertaining typically to the Netherlands, Austria, Great Britain and Switzerland.

About the “CHE Numerus Clausus Check 2018/19”:
The “CHE Numerus Clausus Check 2018/19” is based on NC data contained in the Higher Education Compass of the German Rectors’ Conference for around 19,000 degree programmes in winter semester 2018/19, as well as relevant data from previous years. The federal state, type of higher education institution, degree type and group of subjects were used as criteria for the analysis conducted by the team of authors comprising Anna Gehlke, Cort-Denis Hachmeister and Lars Hüning.


More information for prospective students:
A publication entitled “Im Blickpunkt: Der Numerus Clausus (NC)” (In the spotlight: numerus clausus (NC)) was issued in parallel to the “CHE Numerus Clausus Check 2018/19”. This publication, directed at prospective students, provides answers to the key questions relating to numerus clausus – also featuring, for the first time, information about the situation in the Netherlands, Austria, Great Britain and Switzerland.


Further Information can be found in the publications stated below.

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Cort-Denis Hachmeister
Cort-Denis Hachmeistermehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-35
Fax: +49 5241 9761-40
Email: cort-denis.hachmeister
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