Part-time employment is commonplace, unlike part-time study

Commissioned by the CHE Centre for Higher Education, CHE Consult has prepared data on the development of part-time study options in Germany. The analysis included courses offered by higher education institutions, student demand, and a selection of examples from the international arena. The results show that part-time employment is commonplace, unlike part-time study.

More than one third of the population in Germany do not work full-time. By contrast, the issue of part-time study has not yet become established. Officially, only 6.8 per cent of the student population study on a part-time basis. Only 12.8 per cent of all degree programmes are expressly open to students wishing to handle a reduced workload. These are the findings of an analysis conducted by the CHE Centre for Higher Education with the involvement of CHE Consult.

There is little demand for official part-time degree programmes. According to the Federal Statistical Office, some 190,000 students pursued part-time study in winter semester 2015/16. The proportion of part-time students, which has been growing steadily for years, now stands at 6.8 per cent. However, the percentage of “de facto” part-time students may well be much higher – despite being enrolled on full-time programmes, many students take on a smaller workload and therefore take longer to complete their studies, perhaps because they must work part-time to pay for university.

Germany’s federal state with the highest rate of part-time students is Hamburg. Around one fifth of the student population in this city-state do not study full-time. One of the reasons for this is that Hamburg has two private open universities, and the majority of the students enrolled at both these institutions (around 16,000 in total) study part-time. Compared with other countries, Germany performs poorly in terms of part-time study. According to OECD calculations, only ten per cent of the student population in Germany study part-time at the Bachelor level, which is well below the OECD average of 18 per cent.

The small proportion of students in Germany officially pursuing part-time study may also have something to do with the fact that there only a few suitable degree programmes on offer. According to data from the Higher Education Compass, provided by the German Rectors’ Conference, one in eight degree programmes in Germany are also open to students wishing to study on a part-time basis. 12.8 per cent of the degree programmes currently on offer this winter semester 2017/18 are part-time programmes. This figure is slightly higher than the rate in winter semester 2015/16 (10.6 per cent).

The highest percentage of part-time programmes is offered in Saarland, where around two-thirds of all degree programmes can be studied part-time. Next comes Hamburg (54 per cent), followed by Brandenburg (35 per cent). The proportion of part-time study options was less than ten per cent in seven federal states. At the bottom of the table is Bremen, where only one in fifty degree programmes can be studied with a reduced workload each semester.

Altogether, the proportion of part-time options at universities (14.6 per cent) is slightly higher than that at universities of applied sciences (11.1 per cent). Those wishing to study while in employment, for example, have a wider choice of programmes at the Master’s level (15.7 per cent) than at the Bachelor stage (11.1 per cent).

One sixth of all humanities and social sciences degree programmes can be studied part-time, as is also the case for languages and cultural sciences, and medicine and health sciences. The lowest proportion of part-time options can be found in the area of art, music and design (5.8 per cent).

The rate of part-time programmes on offer was calculated on the basis of data contained in the Higher Education Compass provided by the German Rectors’ Conference for winter semester 2017/18. The percentages of part-time students are based on information provided by the Federal Statistical Office for winter semester 2015/16.





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