How should I improve my academics

Opportunities for Non-Academic Children

There is strong social selectivity in the German education and university system. At all levels of the education system, the participation rates in education for non-academic children are lower and at all thresholds their drop-out rates are higher. This is not (solely) due to differences in performance and therefore not only points to limited equal opportunities, but also to wasted intellectual potential. However, it must be pointed out that in many countries the chances of obtaining a university degree with at least four years of training are even more socially-specific than in Germany (UNESCO 2017).

In the higher education system, the low influence of the bachelor's degree grades shows that the lower transition rates of non-academic children to the master’s degree are not a qualification problem. Often this is a decision-making problem (going back to an information problem, see Ehlert et al. 2017) and a financing problem: firstly, self-images and self-perceptions are shaped by socialization processes that counteract the pursuit of higher education; secondly, there are problems with financing studies as before a major reason for dropping out of non-academic children.

In universities, measures in core processes should help to reduce unconscious and possibly unwanted self-selectivity. For example, improving the opportunities for part-time studies in master’s degree programs as a form of “enabling studies at different speeds” (Wissenschaftsrat 2017) can be a suitable starting point to encourage further study, especially among non-academic children. A generally stronger consideration of diversity and different (professional) previous experiences should also be aimed for. According to the results of the 21st social survey by the German Student Union (Middendorf 2017), for example, the group of over 30-year-old students now accounts for over 10 percent. This group also has specific starting conditions (for example, they more often already have children and work experience before studying) that have not yet been addressed. In addition, a larger range of extra-occupational master’s degree programs could motivate students from non-academic families to continue studying after completing their bachelor’s degree, because they do not have to choose between studying or getting a secure job (see also the field of quaternary education).

This expansion of the types of study must go hand in hand with an adaptation of the BAFöG, which currently does not take into account the special and heterogeneous financial requirements, especially of non-academic children. The federal government is therefore obliged to develop a concept for realistic BAFöG that not only covers the actual cost of living, but also takes into account the different types of study and study financing.