Higher Education

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 71–80 | Cite as

Success in the university admission process in Germany: regional provenance matters

  • Sebastian BraunEmail author
  • Nadja Dwenger


School education in Germany is under the responsibility of the federal states and as a consequence average grades differ widely across regions. Since school leavers apply nationwide for admission to university, regional provenance may thus matter a lot for the success probability in the admission process. Using a comprehensive dataset of the German central clearing house for university admissions in 2006/2007, we show that success rates indeed differ dramatically between federal states, provided that grades are not made comparable across state boundaries. Most of the variation in success can be explained by state-level differences in grading. By defining quotas for federal states and restricting competition among applicants to the state-level, the link between state-level grading and success rates in the university admission process can be broken.


Admission to university Federalism Federal education system Central clearing house Germany 



The authors are grateful to the ZVS for providing us with the dataset and in particular to Harald Canzler and Uwe Kuhnen. We also thank Viktor Steiner, Dorothee Schneider and two anonymous referees for valuable comments. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. Sebastian Braun gratefully acknowledges support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through the SFB 649 ‘Economic Risk’.


  1. Administrative Court Munich/Verwaltungsgericht München (2005), M 3 E L 05.20578.Google Scholar
  2. Braun, S., Dwenger, N., & Kübler, D. (2007). Telling the truth may not pay off: An empirical study of centralised university admissions in Germany. IZA Discussion Paper 3261.Google Scholar
  3. German Federal Statistical Office. (2007). Hochschulen auf einen Blick. Wiesbaden: Statistisches Bundesamt.Google Scholar
  4. Hochschulrahmengesetz (HRG). (1999). Bundesgesetzblatt, I(3), 18–34.
  5. Superior Administrative Court/Verwaltungsgerichtshof. (2006). 7 CE 06.10175.Google Scholar
  6. Vergabeordnung Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studienplätzen (VergabeVO ZVS), as at May 2006. Google Scholar
  7. ZVS. (2006). Auswahl- und Verteilungsgrenzen in bundesweit zulassungsbeschränkten Studiengängen zum Wintersemester 2006/2007. Dortmund: ZVS-Daten.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humboldt University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)BerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations