Vulnerability of students in times of the Corona pandemic: Is social inequality in higher education increasing?

Start of the project: 01-May-2022 - End of the project: 31-Oct-2023

During the Corona pandemic, the social and economic conditions of students have drastically changed: The possibilities of interaction with fellow students and teachers as well as the possibilities of receiving support from the family have been severely restricted. As a result, the financial situation of students and their parents has worsened. Also, teaching had to take place digitally to a large extent, so that students had to deal with changed teaching, learning and examination situations. Such changes have often induced higher levels of study stress. While this is known, we lack information on the Corona-specific study conditions, challenges, and consequences for study success of different vulnerable student groups.

Therefore, this DFG project examines how social inequalities have changed during the Corona pandemic. In addition to inequalities by gender and educational background, we consider inequalities associated with having a migration background, children, and disabilities. We examine the study conditions of students with these characteristics and their relevance for study progress and dropout intentions.

The analyses are based on a combination of datasets that are representative for students in German higher education (Studieren zu Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie, and the pooled Sozialerhebungen of the years 2009 to 2016). The project aims to generate new theoretical and empirical insights in educational and stratification research on how social inequalities evolve in a crisis situation. The findings will help formulate recommendations for targeted support of vulnerable student groups during and after the Corona pandemic. This can help counteract long-lasting social inequalities in German higher education and society.

Contact person

Nicolai Netz
Dr. Nicolai Netz +49 511 450670-171


Mareike Rußmann

External Contact


Funded by

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft