Booming demand offers a chance: need for intelligent and competitive concepts as well as increased investment for more study places
On 25 November 2008, the German Rector`s Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK)) presented new calculations for the additional financial requirements arising from the increasing numbers of potential students and also from the conversion to the mentoring-intensive, staged study programmes. The paper estimates an additional annual requirement of an average of three billion euros for the period from 2011 to 2020. The CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development supports this finding and is calling for innovative solutions in order to make the most of the chance afforded by the student boom to promote Germany as an academic location.
The number of pupils qualified to enter higher education will increase considerably in the coming years because the children of the baby boom generation will be entering this tier of education and also because of the fact that the shortening of the number of school years in many Länder from 13 to 12 years will double the number of pupils in the final year. According to CHE calculations, about 573,000 additional first years students are expected in the period from 2001 to 2020. It is the declared goal of the higher education pact 2020 agreed by the federal government and Länder to offer access to higher education based on equality of opportunity to all those interested in taking up a study programme.
Against this background, the CHE has formulated the following recommendations:
The second phase of the higher education pact 2020, which is presently being negotiated, must be used to provide an appropriate, performance-based basis for funding in the long term that allows higher education institutions (HEIs) to make solid plans for the entire period in which demand for study offers is increasing massively. This is the only way to succeed in creating enough new jobs and adequate capacities for additional students at HEIs. This represents a special task for the federal government as ensuring long-term access to higher education based on equality of opportunity is a central national investment project over the next decades.
The basis of this long-term planning horizon must be the updated model calculations by the KMK or the CHE for the development in the number of first year students which presume a markedly higher number of first year students until 2020 than was forecasted in the higher education pact I.
Länder and HEIs need clear stimuli in order to provide additional access capacities in the long run. The CHE has proposed a model for ”activating higher education financing“ and is elaborating this in the context of the higher education pact.
All parties involved should now develop models of how to cope with the expected surplus of 290,000 first year students at HEIs focusing on structure and organisation in the peak years from 2011 to 2014. This requires the development of concepts to increase flexibility and make greater use of new and existing infrastructures.
The number of students must not hide the fact that the share of traditional demand groups will decline significantly in the long run. HEIs must remain in a position to be able to develop programmes to acquire new demand groups and must be willing to accept the mental change required for this (by Diversity Management). The boom in demand offers a great chance to become a socio-politically and economically necessary high point of participation in higher education..
Finally, it must be stated that the last calculations by the HRK emphatically support the requirement for markedly higher investment aimed at stronger social participation in high quality higher education offers.