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pte20030314024 Education/Career
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High drop-out rate at German universities
Cause: Poor motivation and student-professor relationships

Hannover (pte024/14.03.2003/12:37) - More than a quarter of German students are dropping out of higher education before their final exams according to a new study.

The survey found financial problems, poor student-professor relationships and a lack of motivation were the main reasons that one in four of Germany's 1.9 million students were breaking off their studies early.

Some 300,000 young Germans start university each year and with 27 per cent of those dropping out before reaching their final exams the country's universities have been dealt a stinging blow - particularly when a large part of the problem is due to their administrative or teaching standards.

Around 50 per cent of drop outs said it was down to just one of a number of factors, either a lack of motivation, no money or a change of heart over their chosen career.

Seventy per cent of students who broke off studies named poor conditions at universities as one of the reasons why they threw in the towel, although only eight per cent said this was the main reason. They were particularly critical of teachers and professors in the economic- and social science subject areas as well as information technology lecturers.

The report carried out by the Higher Education Information System (HIS) - a non-profit organisation funded partly by the government and partly by the provinces - said students were also leaving it longer before dropping out, averaging 7.6 semesters rather than 6.5 as it was in 1993.

This, say experts, is the worst thing to do. Ulrich Heublein from the HIS said the sooner students decided to give up their courses the better, as only then could other options be concretely explored.

Germany's Education Minister Edelgard Bulmahn has acknowledged the current problems and said they had to be tackled quickly in order for the number of young students choosing to attend university from falling. She said a "pact" had to be made between the federal government and the regional governments to ensure that standards were met.

She said in order to combat the problem of increased drop-out rates a system of ranking had to be introduced. "Those universities with high numbers of students not completing their degrees should be investigated whilst those with low numbers should be heavily rewarded," said Bulmahn.

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