Today, 49 years ago, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court’s) “Numerus Clausus” ruling had a massive impact on the allocation procedure for student admission in Germany. In the years before the ruling, the number of people with university entrance qualifications had risen sharply, so that – especially in medical courses – demand far exceeded the capacity for students. Some courses now had a numerus clausus to limit the number of new students. The Federal Constitutional Court was faced with several complaints about the constitutionality of a numerus clausus. The central point of the charges was that the numerus clausus would restrict the free choice of profession. The Federal Constitutional Court explained that the right to a place at university was limited to the existing range of courses on offer and that the state was not obliged to expand this to such an extent that all applicants could be offered a place. Therefore, an admission restriction is constitutional if all other measures to expand capacity have been exhausted.


This means that today a Nummer Clausus has been introduced as an admission restriction on almost all courses of study. The number of study places has been expanded, but not to the extent that an NC has become superfluous. The ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in 2017, which declared the nationwide allocation procedure for the study of medicine on the basis of online the Abitur grade to be unconstitutional, also confirmed the 1972 ruling in principle, but demanded that other criteria, such as suitability tests, be included in the allocation procedure.