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News of 27.06.2019

Winter semester 2019/20: Hannover again with the highest proportion of numerus clausus subjects in the country

In Germany, around half a million people start out at university every year. For the new intake of first-year students beginning university this winter semester, only around 40 per cent of all degree programmes are subject to restricted admission. This is the conclusion reached by the annual Numerus Clausus Check, or NC Check for short, conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education. Hannover has the highest proportion of numerus clausus subjects among Germany’s major university cities; at the federal state level, Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen come top.

Around two thirds of all degree programmes in these three German city-states are subject to NC. Berlin has the highest proportion of numerus clausus subjects (67.0 per cent), followed by Hamburg (64.8.) and Bremen (61.5 per cent). Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is the federal state with the lowest share of restricted-entry degree programmes next semester. In this federal state, candidates undergo a selection procedure in only one in five degree programmes (21.9 per cent).

Substantial differences can be seen within individual federal states. Prospective students applying for a place in a university city with a student population of 30,000+ have the best chances in Kassel, where four out of five degree programmes can be pursued without restricted admission. As in the previous year, Hannover had the highest proportion of NC subjects (64.6 per cent).

Nationwide, the proportion of restricted-entry degree programmes fell again by 0.4 percentage points compared to the previous year, and currently stands at 40.7 per cent. The proportion of NC subjects has therefore decreased by around five percentage points over the past six years.

“More and more people in Germany want to study. The fact that the national proportion of NC subjects is decreasing annually nonetheless is a sign that higher education institutions and policymakers have been doing their homework,” stated CHE Executive Director Frank Ziegele, assessing the latest data. Although the student population in North Rhine-Westphalia has grown by around 11 percentage points since winter semester 2013/14, for instance, the proportion of NC subjects fell significantly from 47.1 to 33.4 per cent over the same period.

The proportion of numerus clausus restrictions varies considerably depending on the subject, the type of higher education institution, and the type of degree: nationwide, about one in two degree programmes in the fields of Law, Economics, Social Sciences and Humanities are subject to restricted entry. In contrast, first-year students are free to enter around 70 per cent of Languages & Cultural Sciences programmes, regardless of their Abitur grades.

The percentage of degree programmes subject to restricted admission at universities (38.4 per cent) continues to be lower than that at universities of applied sciences (44.5 per cent). The proportions of NC subjects in Bachelor and Master’s programmes are roughly the same (around 40 per cent).

The closing date for applying for a place on many restricted-entry degree programmes ends in mid-July. Study author Cort-Denis Hachmeister urges prospective students to widen their focus when applying for university: “There are often equivalent open-admission alternatives to the chosen NC degree programme at the university in question − or else at another university or in a related subject.” There are many courses on offer, particularly away from the big cities, where the Abitur grade is irrelevant to the admission process, explained Hachmeister.

About the “CHE Numerus Clausus Check 2019/20” The “CHE Numerus Clausus Check 2019/20” 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 2019/20, 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.

Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.

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Cort-Denis Hachmeister
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Email: cort-denis.hachmeister
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