Universities spurred on by positive student feedback

30. October 2014

"The 12th Student Survey shows that universities are making good progress in the implementation of the European Study Reform and the creation of a better framework for higher education," said Prof. Dr. Holger Burckhart, Vice President of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) for Teaching, Learning, Teacher Training, and Continuing Education, commenting on the results of the representative survey of 5000 students published on Tuesday.

Burckhart expressed his satisfaction that key points such as course structures are now rated much more highly than was the case a number of years ago. Two thirds of students rated their courses positively in this respect, compared with just over half in 2001. "Since the start of the Bologna Process, German universities have substantially altered the form and content of their study programmes and made considerable improvements," said Burckhart. "This has been noticed and acknowledged by students." New elements introduced as part of the reforms, such as the evaluation of teaching, the credit point system and course modularisation, are deemed to have been fully implemented, with the majority of respondents describing them as successful.

The positive overall response from students, said Burckhart, confirms that the process of change introduced to implement the study reforms has been the right one: "But it's also an incentive to continue along the same lines," he said, adding that the survey provides some important pointers.

One key area is mobility. Although a clear majority of students (65%) believe that international cooperation with foreign universities has been well implemented, only 39% are of the opinion that adequate recognition is guaranteed for studies abroad. "We need to look at ways of removing obstacles to mobility."

The HRK Vice President identified two other key findings in the survey results: "We aren't convincing students successfully enough of the fascination and importance of science and scholarship. In addition, the growing interest in social engagement is contrasted with a growing political disinterest. We need to take both into account in our future deliberations."

In 2013, an HRK working group led by Prof. Burckhart prepared the Recommendations on the further development of the Study Reforms. The HRK offers universities guidance and support in the implementation of the recommendations in various ways, including a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research entitled "nexus – Forming Transitions, Promoting Student Success".