Seal of the University of Heidelberg
Bild / picture

Living and Studying in Heidelberg

26 May 2008

Ivo Mossig (Institute of Geography) presents the outcome of a large-scale survey of students in Heidelberg – 45.9% are “very happy” here

How much money do average Heidelberg students have at their disposal every month and what sources do they draw upon to finance their studies? How much do they spend on rent and can they actually afford the accommodation they would prefer? What opinions and attitudes do Heidelberg students have on the new study fees and the use made of them? What tangible effects of the study fees can they actually identify?

Together with students involved in a field-work project called "Living and Studying Heidelberg”, locum professor Ivo Mossig of the Institute of Geography followed up these questions last winter term in the framework of a large-scale survey involving a total of 2,374 Heidelberg students. Alongside personal interviews on the basis of a largely standardised questionnaire, a new survey instrument was also tested: online inquiry. Prof. Mossig was gratified by the response. "With a sample this size,” he says, "we have representative findings on living and studying in Heidelberg.”

On average the students have € 564.93 at their disposal every month. Those still living at home can make do with € 323.31. Students living in a flat of their own need an average of € 616.75 to make ends meet. Parents or relatives are the most important source of funding. As many as 89.9% of the respondents receive financial assistance from their parents, who thus provide 58.8% of the total monthly income of all the students.

The second most important source of income for 61.4% of the students is money they earn themselves. Earnings represent 22.1% of total student income. Only relatively few students benefit from statutory BAföG grants (15.0%) or scholarships (6.1%). The survey also established that in the later course of study the relative significance of parental assistance decreases over and against student earnings. There are also substantial sex-specific differences. On average, women have € 50 less to live on per month than their male counterparts. One reason is that the jobs available to women students are less well paid. Although they work almost the exact same number of hours in a month, they earn about € 55 less than male students.

Flat-sharing is the most widespread form of accommodation among the Heidelberg students. Just under one-third (32.8%) of the respondents live in this way. For 35.8% flat-sharing is also the preferred form of accommodation. A total of 50.7% said that they would like a flat of their own but only 31.7% of the respondents actually live in one. 17.7% live with their parents or other relatives and 17.0% in a hall of residence. The last two alternatives are relatively unpopular. Only a small number of students actually prefer living at home or with relatives (5.4%) or in a room at a hall of residence (7.3%).

There are major differences in terms of the rent required for these various forms of accommodation. On average, Heidelberg students not living at home need € 292.15 a month for rent (including heating). This corresponds to 47.7% of the budget available to them each month. The highest average rents are paid for a flat of one’s own (€ 357.56) or a flat shared with a life partner (€ 347.76). The discrepancy between the frequently expressed desire for a flat of one’s own and the considerably smaller proportion of students actually living in one is explained by the higher rent required: shared flats cost a monthly average of € 283.12 per student. Living in a student hall of residence or a student fraternity hostel is significantly cheaper (€ 205.55 and € 163.65 respectively).

A majority of the Heidelberg students questioned were either sceptical about study fees or dead against them (59.4%). 19.3% were in favour of them (with reservations), 21.3% were in the "don’t know” category. Women students are more firmly opposed to the fees than the men. There is a correlation between the acceptance/rejection of study fees and the monthly income at the students’ disposal: the higher the income, the greater the degree of acceptance.

Despite this generally negative attitude, there is a more variegated range of opinion about certain aspects of the study fee phenomenon. For example, there was a tendency to agree rather than disagree in response to the question about whether the fees are being made use of meaningfully and transparently. This affirmative opinion was particularly notable among students of the biosciences, the Faculty of Philosophy, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Theology, chemistry and the earth sciences. Over half of the respondents indicated that the existence of study fees was indeed a motivation to complete their studies within the relevant standard period for their particular subject. On the other hand, 53.2% also said that they felt that the study fees placed additional pressure on them.

Another gratifying result for the Heidelberg universities and colleges is the response to the question whether the students liked studying in the city. 85.4% said that this was the case, with 45.9% of that group indicating that they were "very happy” (best possible assessment). 11.0% were undecided on the matter and only 3.6% said that they did not like studying in Heidelberg.

The complete version of the final report has been published in the Studien zur Wirtschaftsgeographie series issued by Gießen University’s Institute of Geography. In Heidelberg the publication can be consulted in the University Library and in the sectional library of the geography department. It can also be found on the internet at

PD Dr. Ivo Mossig
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Institut für Geographie
Senckenbergstr. 1
35390 Gießen
phone: 0641/9936247

General inquiries (from journalists) should be addressed to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
top of page