Version 16.0.0


The information on this site refers to version 16.0.0. Here you find information on the former versions 15.0.0, 14.1.0, 14.0.0, 13.0.0, 12.0.0, 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

  • 2022-05-16



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







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 16.0.0. In case of questions, simply contact the Research Data Center.

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Data Manual (more) PDF-en
Variable for non-traditional students (more) PDF-de
Notes on context data (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
Glossary (more) 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

Download 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):