Starting Cohort First-Year Students (SC5)

Version 12.0.0


The information on this site refers to version 12.0.0. Here you find information on the former versions 11.0.0, 10.0.0, 9.0.0, 8.0.0, 6.0.0, 4.0.0, 3.1.0 and 3.0.0.

Date of Release

  • 2019-07-26



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 universities towards 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 university entrance, and the relationship between university 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.
The main focus is on

  • students' competencies and competence development during the course of studies: Which subject-based and general competencies do students possess? To what extent do they correspond to the demands of the employment system? To what extent is the acquisition of competencies dependent on the type of university and the field of studies? In what way do different learning environments and individual learning strategies influence competence development?
  • educational choices during the course of studies and success in studies: What are the determinants of educational decisions and success in studies while studying at university—such as dropout, change of subject, studying abroad, and pursuing a Master’s degree? What is the importance of competencies and social factors, such as social background, gender, or migration experiences in this process? Which consequences do decisions have for subsequent education and working life?
  • entrance into working life and professional success: How important are acquired competencies on the one hand and formal qualifications (diplomas), social background, gender, and social and cultural capital on the other hand for entrance into working life and professional success (e.g., occupational position, income, employment security)? What role do general competencies play compared to subject-specific competencies?

Principal Investigator

Cordula Artelt, Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, Bamberg (Germany)



If you publish with NEPS data, it is mandatory to quote the following reference:

Blossfeld, H.-P., Roßbach, H.-G., & von Maurice, J. (Eds.). (2011). Education as a lifelong process: The German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 14. (Full text)

In addition, publications using data from this release must include the following acknowledgement:

This paper uses data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): Starting Cohort 5 – First-Year Students, doi:10.5157/NEPS:SC5:12.0.0. From 2008 to 2013, NEPS data were collected as part of the Framework Programme for the Promotion of Empirical Educational Research funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). As of 2014, the NEPS survey is carried out by the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) at the University of Bamberg in cooperation with a nationwide network.


Für alle Publikationen mit NEPS-Daten ist es verpflichtend, folgende Referenz zu zitieren:

Blossfeld, H.-P., H.-G. Roßbach und J. von Maurice (Hrsg.) (2011). Education as a Lifelong Process – The German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft: Sonderheft 14. (Volltext)

Zusätzlich müssen alle Publikationen den folgenden Hinweis auf den jeweiligen Scientific-Use-File, aus dem die verwendeten NEPS-Daten stammen, enthalten:

Diese Arbeit nutzt Daten des Nationalen Bildungspanels (NEPS) Startkohorte 5 (Studierende), doi:10.5157/NEPS:SC5:12.0.0. Die Daten des NEPS wurden von 2008 bis 2013 als Teil des Rahmenprogramms zur Förderung der empirischen Bildungsforschung erhoben, welches vom Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) finanziert wurde. Seit 2014 wird NEPS vom Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe e.V. (LIfBi) an der Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg in Kooperation mit einem deutschlandweiten Netzwerk weitergeführt.



Data and documents are released for academic research. This release is uniquely identified by one DOI. All data sets of this release are available in different languages (English, German), formats (Stata, SPSS), and degrees of anynomization (download, remote access, and on-site).


Below you will find detailed additional information regarding the surveys, instruments and data from the Starting Cohort Firts-Year Students. This documentation refers to the version 12.0.0. In case of questions, simply contact the Research Data Center.

Expand All Collapse All
Data Manual (more) PDF-en
Release Notes (more) TXT-en
Survey Instruments (more) ZIP
Information on Competence Tests (more) ZIP
Semantic Data Structure File (more) ZIP
Codebook (more) PDF-de, PDF-en
Samples, Weights, Nonresponse (more) ZIP
Regional data (more) PDF-de PDF-en
Merging Matrix (more) XLX
Anonymization Procedures (more) PDF-en
Field Reports (more) ZIP
Interviewer Manuals (more) ZIP

Starting Cohort First-Year Students

Access the Data

The download of NEPS data presupposes a valid Data Use Agreement. Eligible applicants are all individuals in possession of a university degree employed by a scientific institution. Data access is free of charge.

(external) Data Access Request Forms

Registered data users can download the NEPS Scientific Use Files by logging in to the website with their personal nu-number and password.

(external) Data Download Center

More Information

In addition to the overview on this site, we offer further information about the data from Starting Cohort 5 (First-Year Students):