Students’ Perceptions of Citizenship and Civic Engagement at Higher Education Institutions in Germany

Javid Jafarov* (Corresponding Author), Education in the North

*Corresponding author for this work

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Literature on citizenship emphasizes the role of education in providing an opportunity for young people to participate effectively in democratic life and society. However, this role and responsibility have mostly been imposed on schools, not higher education institutions. Being able to participate effectively in democracy is a complex issue that requires opportunities to gain skills, knowledge and strategies for effective engagement. So civic engagement at school level is not enough to foster civic engagement, as learning how to participate in democratic life and society as an informed and active citizen is a life-long process. This study investigates students’ perceptions of citizenship and the current situations and approaches at German universities with respect to civic engagement. The findings in this research are based on qualitative data generated through individual interviews with 14 bachelor students from five different German universities. The findings provide valuable insights into how young students grasp the notion of citizenship, their roles in society and whether they are seeking for civic engagement and are satisfied with the support provided by their universities for civic engagement. The results of this study reveals the diverse and complex understanding of citizenship among young people, different assessments of their roles in society as a citizen, their participations in civic activities at university and their expectations from their universities with regard to civic engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-72
Number of pages24
JournalEducation in the North
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


  • perception of citizenship
  • civic engagement and higher education


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