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In Germany’s at the time hotly debated 1976 higher education act, the Regelstudienzeit (standard period of study) was introduced. For a long time, the Regelstudienzeit was a spectacular ‘misnomer’, since Germany’s students often studied for much longer than the time foreseen. At least in public perception, the country’s universities were full of ‘eternal students’. This appears to have changed for the better.
Improvements were more marked in the sector of research-intensive universities (wissenschaftliche Hochschulen) than in the Fachhochschulen (universities of applied science). But then, time to graduation at the Fachhochschulen never went so far beyond the Regelstudienzeit than at classical universities. The share of departments in mathematics where students graduated in the period of Regelstudienzeit plus two semesters was 75% , whereas it had in 2003 to 2005 been 18%. The respective shares in education studies were 53% and 19%. In civil engineering, the share in 2003 to 2005 was 0%, whereas it is now 29%.