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Report by the Office of the Presidium of the GDR Government on University and College Admissions for the 1957/58 Academic Year (December 21, 1957)

In the 1950s, the GDR government, not least for economic reasons, sought to expand the university system, especially in the fields of science and technology. Nonetheless, the number of applicants still exceeded the number of available slots at university. Admission to university was limited and subject to strict state control. In addition to objective qualifications, the political-ideological reliability, or “firmness,” of the young applicants was crucial in student admission decisions. An additional qualifying element was the completion of a practical year in manufacturing. University education was especially promoted for the children of farmers and workers. The ideological orientation of the SED’s higher education policy contributed to the flight of East German academics to the West in the 1950s.

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Admissions for the 1957/58 academic year, and the preparations for and the results of matriculation were reviewed at all universities, at the Technical College of Dresden, and at the College of Transportation. A review of the preparations for and the implementation of matriculation was also carried out by the State Secretariat for Higher Education.

The total number of applicants was 21,000 for the 1957/58 admissions year. Of these 21,000 applicants, 14,100 could be admitted in keeping with the fixed quotas. Because of the regulation adopted in the spirit of Socialist education that all future students must complete a year of practical work in enterprises, 5,500 applicants were slotted for the 1958/59 academic year.

In terms of social composition, the newly admitted student body can be broken down as follows:

Workers and farmers 61%
Intelligentsia 14%
White-collar workers 17%
Other social strata 8%

The number of admitted female students is 31%. Fourteen percent of those admitted are graduates of the Workers’ and Farmers’ Institutes.

In some fields, particular difficulties resulted from the fact that the volume of applications was completely out of line with the fixed quotas. For example, the quota for chemistry is 375. The number of applicants, however, came in at 1,034. Of those, 450 were workers.

If only workers were admitted to this field of study, then 75 workers would still have to be left out of this particular field alone.

The situation is similar in other fields. Thus, geology has a quota of 40 and had 170 applicants, among them 73 workers and 27 members of the intelligentsia.

In pharmacology, the quota is 185, but the number of applicants was 900, among them 245 workers and 210 members of the intelligentsia.

In veterinary medicine, the quota is 130, but the number of applicants was 727, among them 306 workers and 147 members of the intelligentsia.

Large discrepancies between the quota and the number of applicants are also evident in other fields. For example,

Aeronautics had 9,
landscape architecture had 5, and
foreign trade had 4 applicants
for every university slot.

In a few fields, the number of applicants from the circles of the intelligentsia is especially high. The following figures, which show the percentage of applicants from the circles of the intelligentsia, make that clear:

In architecture, 23% of applicants
In pharmacology, 23% of applicants
In veterinary medicine, 21% of applicants
In physics, 20% of applicants
In medicine, 31% of applicants

The problem of meeting the applicants’ wishes was especially serious this year, because, as a result of overcrowding, absolutely no quotas had been established for the fields of history, biology, art history, geography, or for all of the philological disciplines, and applicants in these fields could not be considered at all.

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