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Sham studies: what to consider? Okay or Illegal?

Remain enrolled for a few semesters - or even years - after graduation? Or do not plan to graduate at all and just enroll at a university? Mock study is a common phenomenon. Everyone who has been to the university probably knows at least one bogus student or has delayed their own de-registration a little. But what is the point of a sham course and is it a criminal offense if students who are not studying at all are exposed? We have taken a closer look at both sides: The advantages of a bogus course and reasons for bogus students as well as possible disadvantages and dangers to which you can expose yourself with a bogus course ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What exactly is a sham course?

A sham course means to matriculate at a university, but actually not to study at all. It means not attending any lectures and of course not taking any exams or doing any other work for your studies. Or as the Federal Administrative Court puts it: without aiming for a professional qualification. Sham students is all about obtaining student status through a sham degree. For this purpose, any non-admission course is usually selected and the bogus course can begin.

Anyone who thinks that a sham course is the absolute exception and only a handful of students would pretend to matriculate, is wrong. Although there are no concrete figures or official studies on bogus studies, estimates show how large the proportion of bogus students could be. From 20 to 30 percent there is talk that thousands of students enrolled at large universities would only pursue a sham course.

Especially after the abolition of tuition fees, the incentive for a sham course has increased and the number of those enrolled has exploded. This is of course also due to the positive effect that a degree is made accessible to more people (keyword: studies without a high school diploma). But sham students also play a part.

Many advantages of bogus studies

The question arises, what does it get for someone to simply enroll in a degree program? After all, he doesn't do anything for his education or his later professional life. In contrast to the students who want to lay the foundation for their professional career with a full-time course. In fact, bogus studies offer a number of advantages:

Semester ticket

The most common reason and the greatest advantage of a bogus course is the so-called semester ticket, which every student receives. It is paid with the semester fee, which even bogus students have to transfer to the university. But the price is significantly cheaper than a regular ticket. The prices for the semester fee vary, but are usually between around 200 and 300 euros. With the student ticket, you can then travel by bus and train free of charge for six months in the entire transport area included in the ticket. Anyone who travels a lot can save a small fortune here.

Calculation example

The advantages can be calculated soberly: a bogus course only costs the semester fee, every six months at state universities such as the University of Münster there are around 300 euros. This also includes items that a bogus student may not use - such as various services provided by the student union. But the bottom line is that this makes a total of around 50 euros a month. For this, the student can travel to the entire state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

In comparison: NRW is divided into various transport associations, including the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR). In order to be able to travel to the entire network, which only makes up a fraction of the state, he would have to pay over 200 euros per month.

Perks

In addition to the cheap transport options, a bogus course also saves money in many other areas. Almost everywhere there are special conditions for students. Whether student discounts in the cinema, museum, theater or other leisure activities - the entrance fees for students are usually well below the regular prices.

Child benefit

You are entitled to child benefit up to the age of 25 - but only if you are in school or vocational training. With a sham degree, the right to child benefit can be maintained, which can amount to around 200 euros per month.

BAföG

In principle, students have the option of applying for BAföG, this also applies to a sham course. So if you meet the requirements and are entitled to the funding, you could also receive it as a sham student. The terms are more favorable than all other loans, after all, you only pay back half of the loan. And this repayment amount is capped: even if you drop out, you never pay back more than 10,000 euros.

However, BAföG usually takes a closer look, which is why the risk of being caught is particularly high here. The payment is linked to proof of performance. If you only use the various discounts as a sham student, you will not be able to provide this evidence. This means that it ends after four semesters at the latest.

Health insurance

A sham degree can also be beneficial for health insurance. Enrolled students pay a significantly lower fee and can save money and reduce their expenses every month. In fact, as a student, it is even possible to continue to be insured in the parents' family insurance and thus not have to pay anything for health insurance. However, this only applies if you earn less than 450 euros and work less than 20 hours per week. However, health insurances also know about the possibility of a sham course and therefore monitor them very carefully.

Living room

In big cities in particular, cheap living space is in short supply. As a sham student, it is easier for you to get single apartments or shared student accommodation in dormitories. These are often below the local rent index.

Even universities sometimes benefit from bogus studies

In addition to the enrolled fake students, the universities themselves also benefit from a sham degree. The more students are enrolled at a university, the higher are the financial resources and subsidies that a university receives from the state. Whether these are regular students who attend lectures and take exams is not questioned any further. First of all, it is the number that decides.

From a financial point of view, universities therefore often have no interest at all in uncovering and completing a bogus course. Better financing also means better staff and better, more modern equipment. While it is not intended to be a justification for bogus studies, it also has positive effects from which both the university and the other students can benefit.

On the other hand, it is negative that a sham course can take away another person who is really interested. This is especially true when it comes to a degree program with a numerus clausus that does not have enough places available for all applicants. In unrestricted courses, it is more of an organizational problem that universities have to struggle with. If only a small number of the enrolled students actually attend lectures and other events, lecture halls that are much too large are booked for no reason and that might have been really needed elsewhere. And anyone who has ever sat in a completely overcrowded lecture hall will well remember how annoying that can be.

Mock study: what happens when it comes out?

The sham course is widespread, but should not simply be dismissed as a trivial offense. On the one hand there is the moral aspect. A bogus course - and its advantages for the bogus student - are mainly financed by tax money. With a sham degree, you are on the pocket of the state and every taxpayer. In addition, a sham course is a criminal offense. If you look closely, it is fraud. At the same time, however, it is highly unlikely that a sham degree will ever come to light. Universities hardly have the opportunity (and, as already mentioned, little interest in doing so) to research every student.

It is also difficult to prove that it was really a sham degree and that there was an intention. Work, illness or other circumstances can also lead to your studies being put on hold. The alleged bogus student no longer provides any evidence and the appearance of a bogus course arises, although the desire to study is still there. Therefore, bogus students usually have nothing to fear. From the point of view of the university, all that is required is de-registration. It can be different if you have received additional services through the bogus course. In this way, child benefit payments can be reclaimed. However, although a sham course is theoretically punishable, the consequences are not so dramatic - which probably also contributes to the fact that many try to use it for their own benefit.

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