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GERMANY
New university programmes meet student demand better
The majority of students in Germany appear to be studying the subjects of their choice at the institutions they have chosen, according to a survey commissioned by the education ministry.

The first nationwide survey among masters students in their first year revealed that 95% of them were studying what they wished to study, and that 78% were at the institution they had chosen. Also, 82% referred to a smooth transition from the bachelor to masters courses.

The survey was recently carried out across Germany by the country’s HIS – Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH – a higher education statistics agency, and was commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“The results show that the conversion of courses into bachelor and masters degree programmes is working out well and has been well accepted by students,” said Education Minister Johanna Wanka, commenting on the implementation of the Bologna process in Berlin.

“The large share of students who have found a place to study for a masters degree in their subject of choice is particularly encouraging.”

The Bologna reforms give students more leeway to change subjects during their studies than they enjoyed under the old magister and diplom regime.

The old degrees, which have largely been phased out and roughly correspond to the new masters level, did not build on any lower-level degree, and switching subjects was difficult and complicated.

Apparently, students appreciate this freedom, and 32% of those interviewed had changed their subject on taking up masters courses.

Also, almost 40% had switched to another institution to study for the higher degree, with the choice of institution being based mainly on subject considerations.

Students are making use of the opportunity to go to another type of institution, as well.

The abitur, the German general certificate of education awarded by upper secondary schools, entitles school-leavers to take up courses of their choice at any institution, although aptitude tests may be required.

School-leavers from fachoberschulen, with a fachabitur that is restricted to a certain subject or field of subjects, can only enrol for programmes at the Fachhochschulen, universities of applied science that cover the respective disciplines these school-leavers specialise in.

But once they have obtained a bachelor degree, they can either go on studying at the fachhochschule for a masters degree or continue at a traditional university.

Email: michael.gardner@uw-news.com
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