Stressed out students? An empirical comparison of students from various types of higher education institutions and an explorative analysis of potential stressors

by Julian Turiaux & Cordula Krinner (Hochschule Fresenius, München)

The cross-sectional study at hand analyses the stress level of students from various types of higher education institutions. Three pairs were subjected to comparisons. Each of the pairs consisted of two higher education institutions that differed from each other with regard to one criterion. Data was collected using an online survey. To examine the stress level of students the screening scale of the “Trierer inventory of chronic stress” by Schulz, Schlotz und Becker (2003) was used. Contrary to the presumption, no significant difference in the experience of stress could be detected comparing students from a state conventional university and a state conventional university of applied sciences. In contrast, the examination of students from a state conventional university and students from a state Open University showed a significant higher stress level of the distance students. The comparative analyses of students from a state conventional university of applied sciences and those of a private one indicated a significant higher stress level of the state university students. Comparing the stress level of the total sample with the age-specific norm sample (Schulz et al., 2003) the presumption was confirmed that students perceive a significantly higher stress level than the average population of the same age. Furthermore the study was concerned with identifying potential stressors of students. The explorative analyses revealed the quantity of material, pressure to perform, fear of the future, and fear of failure as the most burdensome factors.

Keywords: stress level, stressors, type of higher education institution

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