Professor Merle Hummrich teaches a very popular class at Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. When Hummrich first started teaching the class, she limited its enrollment to only 50 students. However, as the class has grown in popularity and as enrollment numbers have also increased, so has the number of students who are trying to get into the class each semester. This semester, 400 students showed up on the first day, and because there were not enough seats in the classroom, many ended up sitting on the floor or standing through the lecture.
Another class that has been experiencing a dramatic inflation in the number of students who are trying to enroll is Professor Benjamin Ortmeyer’s class about education during the Nazi era. Ortmeyer’s classroom was designed to hold only 500 people, but 720 students are currently enrolled in his class and about 600 show up every week.
This type of over-enrollment is becoming quite common at many universities in Germany. More German students are going to college in order to reap the life benefits that a higher education offers. Other factors include the abolition of mandatory military service and a reduction in the length of the standard high school curriculum.
Although it is a good thing that more German students are wanting to earn a higher education, this new influx is causing problems. In the past three years, German universities have experienced a rise of about 10 percent in the number of students who are enrolling each year. Professor Matthias Jaroch is a spokesman for the German Association of Professors and Lecturers. He recently said that German schools “are now working at a ratio of 60 students to one professor. The system is no longer tenable.”
So what can German universities do to solve this problem? They can hire more professors to teach students, build more buildings with bigger classrooms to accommodate the larger class sizes, and they can also increase the number of students who are allowed to take each class. During my freshman year, I had five classes with more than 200 students enrolled in the class. Professors would possibly need a teaching assistant to help them grade all of the papers and tests, but it would also allow more students to take the classes they need. It’s worked well at the University of Oklahoma, so why wouldn’t it work in Germany?
Via The NY Times
Class Sizes Grow as Budgets Tighten
Are Bigger Classes Bad for Students?