Wintersemester 2020/21: Leipzig and Saarbrücken with the highest NC quotas

In cooperation with the non-profit CHE, CHE Consult has presented the CHECK Numerus Clausus for the Wintersemester 2020/21. It shows that those who want to start studying in the coming winter semester still have a good chance of being accepted. The quota of admission restricted study programmes has again fallen slightly. Only around 40 percent have a so-called Numerus Clausus, or NC for short.

Most often, courses of study in Berlin, Hamburg and the Saarland are subject to admission restrictions. This is the result of the annual CHECK Numerus Clausus of the CHE Centre for Higher Education Development. Among the larger university cities, Leipzig and Saarbrücken have the highest NC rate.

In Berlin, Hamburg and Saarland, two out of three courses of study are currently admission restricted. Berlin has the highest quota in the comparison of the federal states with a share of 66.1 percent, followed by Hamburg and Saarland with 65.4 and 64.2 percent respectively. Prospective students have the lowest NC hurdles in Thuringia. Here, with a share of 19.4 percent, only every fifth degree program is selected from among applicants.

What is striking in this year's CHECK Numerus Clausus of the CHE is the different developments in the federal states: While Bremen and Lower Saxony were able to reduce their NC quotas by 6.2 and 7.5 percentage points respectively, the proportion of courses of study with restricted admission in Saarland rose from around half (56.8 percent) to around two thirds (65.4 percent). As a result of these opposing developments, the nationwide proportion of degree programmes with restricted admissions changed only minimally. Compared to the previous year, it fell by 0.1 percentage points to 40.6 percent.

"This year, many prospective students have suffered from the exceptional conditions of the Abitur in the face of Corona. The fact that the Abitur grade is again irrelevant for almost 60 percent of all courses of study this year is certainly good and reassuring news," CHE Managing Director Frank Ziegele sums up the current results. Another positive aspect is that the number of courses of study with restricted admissions has fallen in comparison to the previous year, particularly in the city states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen, which are popular with first-year students.

A comparison of cities still shows quite clear differences. Prospective students in Giessen have the best chances for a place at university in university towns with more than 40,000 students. Here, first-year students can enrol in four out of five courses of study without further procedures or tests. Leipzig and Saarbrücken, where around two thirds of all courses of study (65 percent) are NC-restricted, reached the highest level.

"It is always worthwhile for prospective students to look beyond their own nose or the borders of the federal state. Often there are equivalent alternatives without numerus clausus even at neighbouring universities," advises study author Cort-Denis Hachmeister. In Saarbrücken, for example, the NC rate is around 65 percent, but in the cities of Trier and Kaiserslautern, which are about 60 kilometers away, it is only 8 percent.

Depending on the subject, type of university and type of degree, the numerus clausus quota varies greatly: in law, economics, social sciences and economics, about one in two courses of study nationwide is subject to admission restrictions. In mathematics and the natural sciences, on the other hand, more than 60 percent of the courses are open to all first-year students, regardless of their Abitur grade.

A lower proportion (37.2 percent) of degree courses at universities are still taken with an NC than those at universities of applied sciences (45 percent). Bachelor's degree programs have a slightly higher NC rate of 42 percent than master's degree programs (38.8 percent).

Due to the corona pandemic, the application deadline this year for study places allocated via the Foundation for University Admissions ( will exceptionally not end until August 20. The application portal has been open since 1 July. The universities are also extending the application and enrolment deadlines in some cases for courses of study which are free of admission or where admission is restricted locally. Prospective students should check the websites of the universities for up-to-date information on the deadlines.

The "CHECK - Numerus Clausus at German universities 2020/21" is based on the NC data of the Higher Education Compass of the German Rectors' Conference for around 20,400 study programmes in the winter semester 2020/21 as well as corresponding data from previous years. The country quotas were determined in relation to the country in which the university is located. In the case of location-based NC quotas, all degree programmes at the place of study are counted. This may result in smaller deviations between the country and local quotas in city states. Federal state, type of higher education institution, type of degree and subject group served as analysis criteria for the authors Anna Gehlke, Cort-Denis Hachmeister and Lars Hüning.




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