While browsing the web-sites of various German universities I have come across the term "restricted admission". What does it mean?

Do German universities discriminate students on the basis of their age?

Is there anything called "unrestricted admission"? If so, what does that mean?

  • 1
    I believe they are simply saying that they will not necessarily admit you simply because you apply and can pay. Your application must be accepted (and some will not be).
    – earthling
    Dec 21, 2013 at 8:15
  • 3
    @earthling: No need to pay beyond a small student registration fee each semester. Public German universities do not charge tuition.
    – aeismail
    Dec 21, 2013 at 14:45

2 Answers 2


In Germany, access to universities is regulated by the Numerus Clausus system, which basically says that the number of students admitted to any given programme at a university can be either unrestricted or restricted to a fixed number of students.

For an unrestricted programme, students just need to fulfill the basic formal criteria (they need a german Abitur, or an equivalent). For most restricted programmes on bachelor level, prospective students need to apply and are then ranked based solely on their Abitur grades (plus a few exceptions for corner cases, foreign students with no german Abitur, etc.). For restricted master level programmes, many universities (including, apparently, TU Kaiserslautern, as linked by the original poster above) have adopted a more US-style admission system, which is based not only on previous grades but also on letters of recommendation, statements of interest, interviews, etc. TU Kaiserslautern also has its selection procedure online. This will vary per university, though.

Edit: to answer your subquestion (which I happened to have missed the first time around):

Do German universities discriminate students on the basis of their age?

No, not in general, and certainly not officially.


On your subquestion:

Do German universities discriminate students on the basis of their age?

I don't know any public state universitiy that does it, but in some cases privately founded institutions of higher education admit only persons up to a maximum age.

One example I found is the Hasso-Plattner-Institut (HPI), a institute that offers bachelor-, master-, and doctoral degrees in cooperation with the University of Potsdam.

At the applicants information page one can read:

Offen für alle Studierende unter 35 Jahren, die entweder in einem Bachelor‑, Master‑, Diplom- oder Promotionsstudium immatrikuliert sind oder ihr Studium vor weniger als einem Jahr abgeschlossen haben. [Open to all students under age 35, who either are enrolled in a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral program or have completed their studies less than one year ago.]

May the community add more examples in the comments. They can be added to the answer.

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