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Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

In general, education is administered and financed by Germany's 16 federal states, with the national government assuming responsibility for the standardization of requirements for the Abitur, for teacher training, and for vocational education, as well as for financial support of students in higher education.

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung), comprised of representatives of state and federal governments, unions, and employers, created educational guidelines for apprenticeships and is responsible for certification. At the local level, chambers of commerce maintain vocational education committees; firms which provide apprenticeships also contribute to their administration and have input.

The Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture sets standards for mutual recognition of teaching certificates, vocational training, the Abitur, and other certificates awarded at the completion of secondary education. In 1969 the West German constitution was amended to establish joint federal and state responsibility for higher education. Since the 1980s there has also existed a central office in Dortmund for awarding students admission to a university.

Universities and technical colleges are generally administered by a rector or president, and supported by deans and faculty hierarchies. Governance is shared with an assembly or senate comprised of university faculty. Once restricted to professors holding a university chair, these groups now usually include representatives from other faculty ranks.

Individual schools are under the supervision of a director appointed by the local district. The director, who continues to teach within the school, is responsible for scheduling, the evaluation of teachers, the coordination of grading, and representing the school to the public. A school council comprised of teachers, parents, and pupils discusses school issues such as rules, schedules, space usage, events, textbooks, and field trips. There are also separate teacher and parent councils. Party differences are evident here too: the Christian Democrats oppose the school council as a non-professional interference in educational matters.

Elementary and secondary schools receive around 80 percent of their financing from each of the federal states, with the remainder coming from individual communities; therefore, school quality does not vary significantly between rich and poor towns and cities. Schools may also receive funds or donated equipment from local businesses. Funds are distributed quite evenly among each of the levels of secondary school; the general secondary school does not usually lag behind the Gymnasium in the quality of school buildings or adequacy of resources.

With respect to higher education, the federal government provides 65 percent of financial aid to students (BAFöG) and contributes to funding for college and university construction, staffing, and special promotions, such as increasing the numbers of women faculty. However, the states pay 92 percent of higher education costs. About three-fourths of the funding for research comes from the federal government. Adult education funding is shared about equally by the federal, state, and local governments. In 1996 public spending for schools and higher education totaled approximately 159.2 billion DM or about eighty billion U.S. dollars.

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Technology funds educational research (overseen by a joint federal and state council) into topics such as the integration of technology in schools, the role of ecology in the curriculum, and the development of girls and women. The Wissenschaftsrat (science council) located in Cologne was established in 1958 to coordinate science and research at the federal and state levels. It makes recommendations on university staffing, finances, and courses of study and played a key role in the reform of East German universities after unification. At that time it had 39 members, and, with additional representatives from East Germany, it now has 54. Members of this highly prestigious council are appointed by the federal president upon recommendation by the Max Planck Society, the University Rectors Conference, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. During its first 40 years, only 6 of its members have been women.

The University of Bochum includes a prominent Research Center for Comparative Educational Studies and, since the early 1990s, the University of Marburg has had a center for studies on European developments in education. The Max Planck Institute of Educational Research, established in Berlin in 1963, has worked since unification to analyze East German social networks, in addition to its more general research interests such as psychology and human development, educational development, schools, and teaching. The oldest institution researching international non-university education is the German Institute of International Educational Research at Frankfurt. This organization also assumed responsibility for the former East German Central Educational Library in Berlin, an institution dating back to 1875, now known as the Library for Research into the History of Education. A variety of both federal and state institutes also conduct research in such areas as curriculum development, the effectiveness of comprehensive schools, cooperation between schools, and teaching and learning. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association), the Volkswagen Foundation, and churches also support specific projects in the area of educational research. Recommendations from the late 1990s would strengthen links between the traditionally independent Max Planck Institute and universities and urge that organization to focus its research efforts on the latest developments in science. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft has a somewhat restrictive peer review process to award grant funding and has been urged to open its review panels to younger researchers and to include more women. Germany ranks seventh among industrialized nations in the proportion of gross domestic product spent on research and development. In Germany as everywhere else, recent years have seen tighter budgets and greater reluctance to fund schools fully. The country taxes its wealthiest citizens at about half their income, in part to defray the high costs of unification.

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Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGermany - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education