A study carried out by the German Centre “Hochschul-Informations-System“ (HIS) seems to break disillusioning news: In Bachelor cycles, one in four German university students drop out. Specifically, in the “Fachhochschulen” (a German type of higher education institution) drop-out numbers reach up to 39 percent.
One must, however, take these findings with a pinch of salt: the study also evidences that the high drop-out rates concern primarily those courses with traditionally high runaway ratios. Furthermore, drop-out numbers vary greatly by subject and have partly even gone down. Medicine, biology, law and social sciences are among those that have actually retained more students since the introduction of the 3-cycle structure. Engineering, natural and cultural sciences, on the other hand, have suffered a severe defeat. It is therefore important not to jump to conclusions about the introduction of the Bachelor-Master structure, or about the Bologna Process in general. Essentially, what other countries can learn from this study is that the successful implementation of the new structure depends on how well subject-specific aspects are taken into consideration.
Reforms and reformers also have to bear teaching staff in mind as is stressed by the “Deutscher Hochschulverband” (German Association of University Professors and Lecturers): a survey which was carried out independently in the same period shows that teaching staff at German universities feel overburdened by the introduction of the new cycles, leaving them less time for research and teaching.
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