German inequality grows

July 27, 2001

A university education in Germany is increasingly the preserve of young people from wealthy backgrounds, a report on students' social situations has shown.

Only 12 per cent of young people from working-class families chose to enrol in higher education in 2000, fewer than three years ago. In comparison, 75 per cent of children from families headed by civil servants, and 60 per cent with self-employed or professional parents, choose to study.

The number of students from high-income families has grown from 31 per cent to 33 per cent since the last student survey in 1997, even though this group represents only 19 per cent of the population.

The wealthiest students are also more likely to choose subjects leading to socially prestigious professions such as law and medicine.

The statistics, leaked by a left-wing newspaper before they were officially released, are embarrassing for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrat-Green government coalition, which has made equality of opportunity a guiding principle of its education policy.

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