Part-time studies: Not yet established despite peak

On behalf of the CHE Center for Higher Education Development, CHE Consult has been analyzing the development of part-time study programs in Germany since 2016. The current publication "CHECK - Part-Time Studies in Germany 2020" is now available. It covers the study offers of the Higher Education Institutions and the demand among students.

About one third of all employed persons in Germany do not work full-time. In contrast, the proportion of part-time students has increased, but at 7.5 percent is still far from being established as an alternative to full-time studies. This is due to the general conditions and the limited range of courses on offer, as a current overview by the CHE Center for Higher Education Development shows.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, 214,000 people in Germany were officially studying part-time in the winter semester 2018/19. This corresponds to an increase of 11,000 persons compared to the previous year. The proportion of part-time students among all students is currently 7.5 percent, higher than ever before.

With 100,000 students, around half of all part-time students are enrolled at a university in North Rhine-Westphalia. However, Hamburg has the highest proportion of part-time students, ahead of NRW (12.9%). In the city-state, one in five registered students does not study full-time. Saarland comes last with 121 official part-time students, which corresponds to a rate of 0.4%.

"In professional life, flexible part-time models are now well established. In the area of academic training and further education, part-time studies are still a long way off, despite current maximum values", Frank Ziegele assesses the current figures. This applies in particular to the state universities, according to the CHE managing director.

About half of all part-time students fall back on study offers of private universities. Of the 14 institutions with more than 2,000 part-time students, only four are state universities.   

In real terms, the number of "de facto" part-time students who are enrolled in a full-time program but study less intensively and longer than planned is likely to be significantly higher, explains the CHE.

According to Cort-Denis Hachmeister, one of the reasons for the low official figures for part-time students is the poorer financial framework conditions. "For many students, part-time studies are likely to be significantly more expensive than full-time studies. Every second part-time student falls back on the paid study offers of a private university. And even with the state free courses of studies the missing BAföG requirement makes itself noticeable", explains the expert for university entrance with the CHE.

A further reason might be in addition, because of the small offer of appropriate courses of studies. According to the data in the HRK Higher Education Compass, only every sixth degree program in Germany is also open to part-time students. The rate of part-time courses of study in the current winter semester 2020/21 is 16.1 percent. This represents an increase of 2.2 percentage points compared to the previous year.

The front-runner in the comparison of the federal states is Saarland, where two out of three study programs (67.1%) can also be studied part-time. Hamburg and Brandenburg follow with 53.8 and 46.4 percent respectively. In five federal states, the proportion of part-time courses is less than 10 percent. Bremen has the lowest rate at 2.1 percent.

At 17.2 percent, the range of part-time courses offered at universities is somewhat more extensive than at universities of applied sciences, which have 13 percent. In the Master's area (19%), people who would like to study parallel to their job also have a greater choice than in the Bachelor's area (14.3%).

In the social and societal sciences, the part-time option exists in every fifth degree program. The lowest percentages are found in agricultural and forestry sciences with 7.7%.

The basis for the part-time option quota is the data of the Hochschulkompass of the German Rectors' Conference for the winter semester 2020/21. The percentage of part-time students is based on data from the Federal Statistical Office for the winter semester 2018/19.





Lars Hüning+49 30 2332267-56Write e-mail