According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 223,000 people in Germany were officially studying part-time in winter semester 2019/20. This equates to an increase of 8,000 people compared to the previous year. The proportion of part-time students, currently standing at 7.7 per cent, is higher than ever before.
However, the actual number of “de facto” part-time students – who are enrolled on full-time programmes, but take on a smaller workload and need longer to complete their degree – is likely to be much higher, CHE believes.
Germany’s federal state with the highest proportion is Hamburg. One in five students enrolled in this city-state officially study part-time. Saarland, which currently has around 150 part-time students, is the federal state with the lowest proportion (0.5 per cent).
The annual analysis within the context of the “CHECK – Part-time study in Germany” shows a marked imbalance of distribution: about half of all part-time students go to a private higher education institution (HEI), although this type of university accounts for less than 10 per cent of all students.
In fact, three-quarters of all part-time students in Germany are enrolled at just three of the country’s 400+ HEIs. These are FOM University of Applied Sciences, with 50,533 students, the FernUniversität in Hagen (48,374) and the Hamburger Fern-Hochschule (10,472).
“Part-time models are already established across the board in everyday working life. The same cannot be said of academic education and training,” reported Cort-Denis Hachmeister. “In Germany, those wanting to study part-time or reduce their study load – for reasons such as family commitments – need to be well-off or lucky: either money to pay to go to a private university or the good fortune to study at a state university that has generous rules concerning part-time study,” explained the expert in access to higher education at CHE.
What is more, students who have no wish to lose their entitlement to a BAföG grant are not even officially allowed to study part-time – an issue that the new Federal Government should be quick to address by reforming the BAföG (Federal Law on Support for Education and Training), which CHE believes is overdue.
In addition, there is a lack of flexible degree programmes at state HEIs for students to pursue in a pragmatic and uncomplicated way. “On paper, one in six programmes offered in 2020 also had a part-time alternative. At state universities, however, students had to apply for this option – ploughing through various levels of red tape – and prove their eligibility for part-time study,” remarked Hachmeister.
About the study:
On behalf of the CHE Centre for Higher Education, CHE Consult has been analysing the development of part-time study options in Germany since 2016. The publication entitled “CHECK – Teilzeitstudium in Deutschland 2021” (CHECK – Part-time study in Germany 20201 includes courses offered by HEIs and student demand for part-time programmes. The share of part-time programmes on offer is based on data contained in the Higher Education Compass provided by the German Rectors’ Conference for winter semester 2020/21. The percentages of part-time students are based on information provided by the Federal Statistical Office for winter semester 2019/20. Key information about the topic, checklists and an annotated list of links are available at: https://www.che.de/download/teilzeitstudium/.