Martin Neugebauer
The Introduction of Bachelor Degrees and the Under-representation of Students from Low Social Origin in Higher Education in Germany: A Pseudo-Panel Approach

European Sociological Review, 2015: 31, issue 5, pp. 591-602
ISSN: 0266-7215 (print); 1468-2672 (online)

In the course of the Bologna Process, European higher education systems have experienced major reforms. In Germany as in several other countries, the main novelty was a reduction of the length of study to get a first-level degree (Bachelor), together with the introduction of a second-level degree (Master’s). One of the priorities of the Bologna Process is the so-called ‘social dimension’, meaning that participation in higher education should be widened by fostering the potential of students from under-represented groups, such as those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. To evaluate this reform goal, this article tests whether the shortening of the length of study to get a first degree countervails the under-representation. I use variation introduced by the non-uniform adaption of the new degree structure to identify the effect. Using repeated cross-sectional student survey data to generate panel data at the level of study courses, fixed-effects estimators indicate that the shortening has no (positive) effect on the share of students from low social origins.