NEPS Stage 7 – From Higher Education to the Labor Market

Higher education institutes in Germany are currently facing a series of challenges and developments that raise new research questions. These include the introduction of the two-tier Bachelor's and Master's study structure, the increasing demand for an orientation toward study outcomes, the way that higher education institutes are turning into centers of lifelong learning, the growth in (international) competitiveness, and an increasing lack of highly qualified experts. At the same time, the central topics of past decades such as student dropout, socially selective access to higher education, and the relation between higher education and careers remain just as pressing as before.

To address the associated research questions, Stage 7 will follow up a cohort of first-year students throughout their studies and into their careers. Particular attention will be paid to investigating the education decisions, the development of competencies, the returns to studying, and the transition to a career.

Individually, the central research questions address the following topics:

  • The competencies of students and how they develop during the course of their studies: What subject-related and non-subject-related competencies do students possess? How far do these correspond to the demands of the employment system? How far does the acquisition of competencies depend on the type of higher education institute and the subject studied? How do different learning environments and individual learning strategies influence competence development?
  • Education decisions during the course of studies and successful graduation: What are the determinants of transitions while studying—such as dropping out, switching subjects, studying abroad, starting a Master's course—and of successful graduation? What role do competencies play in this? What is the role of social factors such as social origins, gender, and migration background? Which consequences do the decisions made have for further studies and careers?
  • Transitions to work and career success: How important for entering a career and career success (e.g., career rank, income, job security) are acquired competencies as opposed to formal qualifications (certificates), social origins, gender, as well as social and cultural capital? How important are multidisciplinary competencies compared to subject-specific competencies?

Contact: neps-etappe-7(at)



LIfBi in cooperation with:



    Contact person at LIfBi:

    Dr. Markus Nester
    Executive Unit "Education at a Higher Age"