Germany has made extensive reforms in its tertiary education system since 1999 as part of the European Bologna process. The traditional tertiary academic degree programs are being replaced by internationally comparable Bachelor and Master degree programs. During the period of transition from the traditional degrees to these new tertiary programs, different degree types co-existed. In this study, I am interested in quantifying whether and how much the choice of a new Bachelor vs. a traditional degree program affected first year students' satisfaction with their study program. I draw on recent survey data containing detailed information on how the students judge their respective study programs with respect to teaching and organization. I also use a score that aggregates information on personal problems which the students experience in the academic context. In addition, self-reported grades are observed for a subsample of the students. Students' selection of the different programs is taken into account. The data allow controlling for prior performance, attitudes, and family background as well as inclusion of fixed effects on the level of subjects and the specific institution. In light of the present scepticism towards the reforms, some of this paper's results are encouraging: I demonstrate that most of the considered outcomes improved since the beginning of the Bologna process. However, the changes are very modest. Also, according to students' self-reported problems, their situation hardly differs between traditional and new degree programs. Furthermore, the results imply no evidence that the new programs specifically attract students from a less advantaged family background. In other words: I do not observe that the new programs increase (or decrease) social mobility.
Mühlenweg, Andrea (2010), Teaching, Organization, and Personal Problems - Evidence from Reforming Tertiary Education in Germany, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 10-040, Mannheim.