A total of 477,000 degrees were handed out in 2020 by German universities and colleges, the Federal Statistical Office (destatis) said on Friday.
With one exception in 2018, the number of university degrees awarded each year has risen continuously since 2001.
“In the decline in the number of graduates in the examination year 2020, the consequences of the Covid pandemic are evident,” said Thomas Feuerstein from destatis.
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“Due to the pandemic, exams were postponed to subsequent semesters in some cases. Libraries, laboratories and workshops were temporarily closed or had limited use. This not only made it difficult for students to take exams, but also to prepare for them.”
Graduate numbers fell in all the German states. The sharpest decline was seen in Berlin, with a drop of twelve percent, and the smallest in North Rhine-Westphalia, at three percent.
Half of all university degrees in 2020 were Bachelor’s degrees, and a quarter were Master’s degrees. According to the statistics, the greatest decline in graduation was seen in the humanities.
Increase in mental illness
Students in German have complained in recent months that they have been forgotten during the pandemic as public attention has focused on bringing school children back into the classroom.
Students have had to suffice with distance learning or hybrid models for 18 months with many universities still not offering full classes when the new university year starts this autumn.
Surveys suggest that mental illness has become more severe among students, with one study by the Studentenwerk reporting that 10 percent were experiencing some for of psychological stress.