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04/07/2017

Students without academic parents benefit in particular from periods of study abroad

A period of study abroad has a positive effect on professionally relevant skills and personality traits. In fact, students without an academic educational background attach greater importance to the effects of semesters or internships abroad than the rest of their fellow students do. These are the conclusions of an investigation that CHE Consult conducted together with the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The basis of the investigation is data for Germany not yet published from the European Commission’s Erasmus Impact Study.

In Germany, whether students go abroad to study continues to be linked to their background. Students whose parents attended university are more highly represented among those who participate in a study abroad programme. In addition, the study also shows that students from academic families are more likely to spend several periods of study abroad than their counterparts without an academic educational background. The results show how important it is to lower the hurdles preventing students from studying abroad even further.


According to the study, there are no fundamental origin-specific differences in personality traits such as decision-making ability. The barriers preventing children of non-academic parents from going abroad are rather of an organisational and financial nature. In addition to insufficient support when looking for housing, the uncertainty regarding costs is particularly unsettling.


The authors considered study abroad from a differentiated perspective, based on educational background and provider. The latter aspect revealed less social selectivity between children of academics and those of non-academics in the EU Erasmus programme than in other options. The authors see less stringent entry requirements as one possible reason for this. But it is also possible that an increasing number of children from academic families fall back on scholarship-based programmes, for example, as an alternative. Currently, some 40,000 students from Germany use Erasmus for a period of study abroad.

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