The effect of Germany’s federalism on student success : The “Index of Commitment“ as comparative measure for study and examination regulations

Hönnige, Christoph ; Bauer, Victoria A. ; Bernauer, Julian ; Zittlau, Steffen ; Epping, Volker ; Widdig, Vincent ; Jungbauer-Gans, Monika ; Oberschelp, Axel ; Isleib, Sören ; Nguyen Xuan, Anh

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-668282
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2024
The title of a journal, publication series: LCSS Working Papers
Volume: 16
Place of publication: Hannover
Publishing house: Leibniz Universität
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Mannheim Centre for European Social Research - Research Department A
Pre-existing license: Creative Commons Namensnennung 3.0 Deutschland (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Subject: 300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
Abstract: Long-term studies and drop-outs are a major issue in higher education research, but explanatory factors have often been focusing on attitudinal and sociological characteristics using student surveys as methodology. Institutional rules regarding study and learning regulations have often been neglected, although recent research has shown that they incentivize student behaviour. We develop and Index of Commitment (IOC) to cover these rules over different types of study phases and different types of commitments of different actors. We distinguish between an early study phase, a main phase and a late study phase and commitments regarding consultation and examination rules by the state, a higher education institution (HEI) and students. This paper shows empirically that there is a considerable variance of these rules between the 16 German states, which are responsible for the legislation and financing of most of the higher education institutions in Germany. We find states with very soft regulation, where legislation sets almost no rules and student autonomy is held in high regard and states with very precise rules setting strong incentives and leaving only little room for implementation to the HEI. We can show that our index correlates with the percentage of students successfully finishing their degree in time in a state. By presenting our index, we provide a comprehensive understanding of the commitment of study and examination regulations. The findings and insights can contribute to the ongoing discourse on student autonomy and state control in higher education, as well as inform policy makers and educational institutions in developing effective strategies to address dropout and long-term study. It also shows again that “bringing the state back in” in higher education research is important.

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