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News of 13.12.2017

CHE predicts that the rush of new students is here to stay

The number of students starting university will remain at more than 425,000 each year up until 2050, which is far higher than 2005 levels. As a consequence, the CHE Centre for Higher Education considers it to be a national responsibility to undertake a long-term, reliable reform of higher education funding beyond the present Higher Education Pact.

In 2005, the number of new students starting university in Germany was around 350,000 each year. Nowadays, approximately half a million people embark on higher education every year. Although the number of first-year students will decline by 2050, following a period of fluctuation, the figure will no longer fall below the 425,000 mark. This is the conclusion drawn by model calculations conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The predicted levels are based on the assumption that the population will remain equally keen to study. Should even more people choose higher education over other forms of training and education, then the number of university entrants will be even higher.

CHE Executive Director Jörg Dräger states: “The increase in new students is not like a mountain that can be tunnelled through. Levels of new students will remain on a high plateau. Higher education is becoming the norm and a long-term reality in society.“ It is a national responsibility to fund these high student levels; they can no longer be tackled with a temporary Higher Education Pact. “You can’t keep renegotiating funding every few years for a boom in student numbers that lasts longer than 40 years. Funding under the Higher Education Pact must be made permanent. What we need is the long-term, reliable financing of places in the entire higher education system,“ stated Dräger.

Competitive elements should not be forgotten in the perpetuation of funding, the CHE Executive Director added. After all, CHE’s higher education researchers have also looked into how Germany’s regions are expected to develop: between 2017 and 2050, there will be more new students in most federal states each year than in 2005, albeit with various ups and downs, depending on the federal state. “Students vote with their feet when deciding which higher education institution to attend. This means than places have to be financed flexibly, allowing room to breathe,“ Dräger urged. The rules of the game for handling unpredictable fluctuations, e.g. due to immigration or a higher proportion of student takers, need to be determined at the start so that higher education institutions have a firm basis on which to plan.

The development of the number of first-year students in Germany from 2016 to 2050 compared to 2005 levels

About this study

CHE Consult was commissioned by the CHE Centre for Higher Education to conduct model calculations on the development of the demand for higher education. In the basic model, the number of new students in the federal states was predicted based solely on assumptions on the demographic development of age groups and international students. In this case, the authors assumed that other conditions, such as the propensity to study, would remain the same. In their scenario model, they additionally simulated developments up to 2050 in the case of a moderate increase in the propensity to study. The study entitled “Auf dem Hochplateau der Studiennachfrage: Was kommt danach? Modellrechnungen zur Entwicklung der Studienanfängerzahlen bis zum Jahr 2050“ (On the high plateau of demand for higher education: what comes after that? Model calculations on the development of levels of new students up to 2050) was written by Thimo von Stuckrad, Christian Berthold and Tim Neuvians. The publication is part of the CHE priority theme “Higher education is becoming the norm”.

Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.

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