Do I have to Go? Attendance Requirements in Germany

Every semester, you'll notice a strange phenomenon. In the first week of class, the room will be completely full. But by the third or fourth week, you may be among just a handful of students still attending. This is because students in Germany need to show up for most classes the first week to confirm their registration in the course, but at many universities throughout the country, students are not required to attend for the remainder of the semester. 

In recent years, many states have decided to abandon required attendance in the face of student protests, including North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein. Others, like Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, allow individual universities to decide. 

Despite this, many professors do still require attendance, even in states where this is officially not allowed. Last year, there were over 100 complaints about this from students at the University of Cologne alone. But many professors are pushing back on regulations that allow students to skip out on the majority of classes during the semester.

"The rules may be appropriate for subjects like math, where you can learn the formulas at home, but not for philosophy" 
Christoph Helmig, University of Cologne

This pushback may ultimately lead to change, or even exceptions for certain subjects, but regardless, your attendance won't be a factor in your grades. Generally, at universities where attendance is a requirement, you may be dropped from a class if you miss more than two sessions.

Even if your university does require attendance, you are entirely responsible to make it to class. No one will follow up to see why you haven't been coming. And even though attendance won't officially be factored into your grades, if you don't go to class, it will be hard to keep up with the course. And this will definitely be reflected in your final grades.