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National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 5 - First-Year Students (SC5)

Research Question

German universities face a number of challenges and developments that raise new issues for research. To name but a few, there is the introduction of a two-stage structure in university education, a growing demand for outcome orientation, the evolution of higher education institutions towards becoming institutions for lifelong learning, an increase of (international) competitiveness, and the emerging shortage of highly qualified professionals. At the same time, key issues of the last decades are still current, such as student dropout, social selectivity in higher education entrance, and the relationship between higher education and working life. In order to answer research questions associated with these issues, a cohort of first-year students will be followed through their years of study, including their entrance into working life. Central issues to be studied are educational choices, competence development, the benefits of university education, and entry into the jobs market.

Test Language


Test Period

Panel entry fall 2010; at least one survey per year

Test Area


Target Persons

First-year students of winter semester 2010/11

Population / Sample

First-year students in Germany

A single-stage stratified cluster sampling was drawn from the population of first-year students at public and state-approved, church or private higher education institutions studying for a Bachelor’s degree, a state examination, or an arts or church-related degree. Each area of studies at a given higher education institution represents a cluster. Students at private universities and students in teacher training were considered disproportionately. In addition, a full population survey of nontraditional students (persons qualified through vocational training without obtaining a higher education entrance qualification from school) was conducted.

Sample Size

31,082 recruited students, of these: 18,252 students interviewed; 7,044 students who additionally took part in the competence test; 14,606 students who additionally took part in the online survey. This information refers to the first wave of the panel.

Survey Procedure and Instruments

Written questionnaires (for recruiting and competence test, PAPI), computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), and online survey

Link to the Detailed Description of the Study

Persistent Identifier

DOI: 10.5157/NEPS:SC5:4.0.0
DOI: 10.5157/NEPS:SC5:3.1.0
DOI: 10.5157/NEPS:SC5:3.0.0

Data Accessible via Research Data Centre

To the Study Documentation at the Research Data Center LIfBi:

Information about the user conditions can be found here:


Dr. Daniel Fuß
Operational Manager
Phone: +49 951 / 863 - 35 11
Email: fdz[at]


The aim is to establish a diverse community of data users with different backgrounds, rather than a restricted group of experienced analysts. All researchers interested in working with the data must be accommodated to ensure not only equal research opportunities but also high-quality analyses. The training courses introduce the research design of the NEPS, the structure of data sets, terms and conditions of data usage, issues of privacy and data protection, and so on.
Day 1: obligatory for first time participants (basic program)
Day 2: for interested data users (optional)

More information and the current program you can find here:

Related Data

National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 1—Early Childhood (SC1)
National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 2—Kindergarten (SC2)
National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 3—Grade 5 (SC3)
National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 4—Grade 9 (SC4)
National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 6—Adults (SC6)

Additional studies:
National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): G8 Reform Study in Baden-Wuerttemberg (BW)
National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Organizational Reform Study in Thuringia (TH)

Research Area(s)