Germany from Re.ViCa

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by Theo Bastiaens
additional contributions (2010) including Länder by Paul Bacsich

For the main entry on this country see Germany

For entities in Germany see Category:Germany


(Re.ViCa) Partners situated in Germany:

Germany in a nutshell

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is a country in Central Europe. The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.

With over 82 million inhabitants, it comprises the largest population among the member states of the European Union and is home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide.

The capital of Germany is Berlin.

Germany (Deutschland) is a Federal Republic consisting of sixteen states, known in German as Länder (singular Land). Since Land is the literal German word for "country", the term Bundesländer (federal states; singular Bundesland) is commonly used colloquially, as it is more specific, though technically incorrect within the corpus of German law. The peoples of the states are the nation of Germany. The governments of the states are part of the authority of Germany.

The states have many devolved powers including nearly full control of the education system including universities. Different states differ considerably as to how they exercise this control.

Under the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) the exercise of governmental powers and the fulfilment of governmental responsibility is incumbent upon the individual Länder as far as the Basic Law does not provide for or allow for any other arrangement. The Basic Law contains a few fundamental provisions on questions of education, culture and science: thus for example it guarantees the freedom of art and scholarship, research and teaching, the freedom of faith and creed, free choice of profession and of the place of training, equality before the law and the rights of parents. The entire school system is under the supervision of the state.

Unless the Basic Law awards legislative powers to the Federation, the Länder have the right to legislate. Within the education system, this applies to the school sector, the higher education sector, adult education and continuing education. Administration of the education system in these areas is almost exclusively a matter for the Länder.


States of Germany

The 16 Länder are called in English (and German if different):

  1. Baden-Württemberg
  2. Bavaria (Bayern)
  3. Berlin - city-state
  4. Brandenburg
  5. Bremen - city-state
  6. Hamburg - city-state
  7. Hesse (Hessen)
  8. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  9. Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen)
  10. North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen)
  11. Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz)
  12. Saarland (French: Sarre)
  13. Saxony (Sachsen)
  14. Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt)
  15. Schleswig-Holstein
  16. Thuringia (Thüringen)

Those states in bold have at least 5 million people (and of these, four have 10-20 million) - in other words, they are larger than many European countries.

German education policy

The scope of the Federal Government's responsibilities in the field of education is defined in the Basic Law, which was amended by the federalism reform in 2006, according to which the Federation bears responsibility particularly for the regulations governing the following domains of education, science and research:

  • In-company vocational training and vocational further education
  • Admission to higher education institutions and higher education degrees
  • Financial assistance for pupils and students
  • Promotion of scientific and academic research and technological development, including

the promotion of up-and-coming academics

  • Youth welfare
  • Legal protection of participants of correspondence courses
  • Regulations on entry to the legal profession
  • Regulations on entry to medical and paramedical professions
  • Employment promotion measures; occupational and labour market research

Additionally, the federalism reform transferred responsibility for the remuneration and pensions of civil servants (e.g. teachers, professors and junior professors) to the Länder. The Federation still has legislative authority over the status-related rights and duties of civil servants, as well as the legislative authority over foreign affairs. In addition to the division of responsibilities described above, the Basic Law also provides for particular forms of cooperation between the Federation and the Länder within the scope of the so-called “joint tasks” (Gemeinschaftsaufgaben). For example, in cases of supra-regional importance, the Federation and the Länder may cooperate in the promotion of:

  • scientific research institutions and projects outside of institutions of higher education
  • scientific and research projects at institutions of higher education (agreements require

the consent of all Länder)

  • research buildings at institutions of higher education, including major equipment.

Additionally, the Federation and the Länder may cooperate on the basis of agreements regarding the assessment of the performance of the German education system in comparison with other countries as well as in the production of related reports and recommendations.

Within the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF) is primarily responsible for the Federation's areas of responsibility. Whenever necessary, consultations between Federation and Länder take place in the Bundesrat, the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz – GWK), the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz – KMK), the Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) and the Planning Committee for the Construction of Higher Education Institutions. In the course of the federalism reform for the modernisation of the federal system, the direct rights of participation of the Länder have been specified in detail. When legislative powers exclusive to the Länder in school education, culture or broadcasting are primarily affected, the federalism reform of 2006 requires that the exercise of the rights belonging to the Federal Republic of Germany as a member state of the European Union is delegated to a representative of the Länder designated by the Bundesrat.

Although Germany has had a history of a strong educational system, recent PISA student assessments revealed a weakness in certain subjects. In a test of 43 countries in the year 2000, Germany ranked 21st in reading and 20th in both mathematics and the natural sciences, prompting calls for reform and dominating the political debate for the last years.

Also as a result of this, fundamental changes are currently being implemented in the German education system. In this context, special importance is attached to the various efforts for quality assurance and quality development in the school sector, teacher training and the higher education sector. In the school sector, the introduction of national educational standards and the establishment of the Institute for Educational Progress (Institut zur Qualitätsentwicklung im Bildungswesen – IQB) marked the beginning of a paradigm shift towards an output-oriented control of the education system. In June 2006, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs adopted a comprehensive strategy for educational monitoring. The global concept for the monitoring and further development of educational processes consists of four interconnected areas: International comparative studies of pupil achievement, the central review of the achievement of educational standards in a comparison between the Länder, comparative studies in order to review the efficiency of individual schools within the Länder, and the joint education reporting of the Federation and the Länder.

In the higher education sector, the development of the consecutive structure of study courses and the further development of accreditation and evaluation also serve the objectives of quality development and quality assurance. The accreditation of study courses ensures minimum standards for the academic curriculum and the professional relevance of the degrees. Evaluation is designed to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of institutions and degree programmes, and thus to assist higher education institutions in adopting systematic approaches to quality assurance in teaching. In September 2005, the Standing Conference passed a quality assurance framework concept for teaching at higher education institutions which is based on a stock-taking of measures in the Länder and defines the core elements and standards required to guarantee the reliability and comparability of the procedures.

Other central themes in education policy are for example: integration of immigrants (e.g. by improvement of German language skills), all-day school and the membered educational system. Big issues concerning higher education are: equal opportunities, tuition fees and the so called initiative of excellence that benefits only a few universities.

Description of the Educational System in Germany

The education system in the Federal Republic of Germany is divided into

  • pre-school education,
  • primary education,
  • secondary education,
  • tertiary education and
  • continuing education.

Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for nine or ten years. In Germany, students are graded on a scale of one through six, one being high and six being very low, or failing. Home-schooling is not permitted in any of the German Bundesländer except rare cases. Primary education usually lasts for four years (six in Berlin) and public schools are not stratified at this stage. In contrast, secondary education includes four types of schools based on a pupil's ability as determined by teacher recommendations: the Gymnasium includes the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediary students; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education, and the Gesamtschule or comprehensive school combines the three approaches. There are also Förderschulen (schools for the mentally challenged and physically challenged). One in 21 students attends a Förderschule.

In order to enter a university, high school students are required to take the Abitur examination; however, students possessing a diploma from a vocational school may also apply to enter. A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run school.
File:800px-Deutsches Bildungssystem-quer.png
The Education System in Germany
In 2006, 415,000 graduates received the general qualification for university entrance which is approximately 43% of the typical age cohort of the population.

For detailled information see http://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/doc/Dokumentation/Bildungswesen_en_pdfs/en-2006.pdf

German HEIs in the information society

According to the Federal Statistical Office 2007/2008, Germany possesses 278 Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Science) Kunst- and Musikhochschulen (for music and art) and about 104 universities (state and state-recognised).

The Fachhochschulen offer shorter and more practice-oriented programs. They generally lead to credentials at the bachelor's level, but more and more Fachhochschulen also offer master's programs for those students eligible for further study. In addition, Germany's tertiary sector also includes either state-run or staterecognised Berufsakademien (professional academies) in some "Länder": Students receive academic training at Studienakademien (study institutions) and, at the same time, practical career training in a training establishment. A number of colleges of art and music offer programs in their areas.

At the universities, for many decades a master's level degree (differed in "Magister", "Diplom" or "Staatsexamen" - State Exam) was the first degree available and only the recent higher education reforms, which have introduced two-level programs at both the bachelor's and master's level have opened a chance to leave university earlier. The bachelor's degree in the beginning was introduced to avoid the drastic rates of non-completers, which in some university subjects were as high as 75 percent.

In German higher education there are two semesters each academic year. Most of the information materials are available in German only, and admission in most cases is depending on German language proficiency as well. Big issues in educatianol policy concerning higher education are: equal opportunities, tuition fees and the so called initiative of excellence that benefits only a few universities.

Ongoing debates and future developments

Since the beginning of the 1990s and not least against a background of inadequate financial and human resources at the higher education institutes, the Federation and the Länder have increased their efforts to modernise and internationalise the higher education system in Germany. The reforms are aimed at facilitating differentiation by deregulation, performance orientation, increasing the autonomy of higher education institutions and creating incentives, hence also enhancing the international competitiveness of the German institutions of higher education. In order to implement these goals, reforms have been and still are introduced and carried out on the structure of higher education study and the internal organisation of institutions of higher education. Detailed state control is increasingly being replaced by the autonomous decision-making of higher education institutions. Deregulation has significantly increased the freedom of higher education institutions in terms of their organisational and staffing decisions. The higher education institutions are increasingly taking on the national and international challenge. In joint target agreements, the state and the institutions of higher education cooperatively define the services to be provided, but without specifying concrete measures. The target agreements are also used as control elements within the higher education institutions. The growing autonomy of the higher education institutions is, for example, also demonstrated by their entitlement to select applicants for admission. Since 2005 the Länder have been free to decide on the imposition of financial contributions from students. A number of Länder made use of this option for the first time in the winter semester 2006/2007 by imposing study fees ranging up to Euro 500. Parallel student loan systems provide that loans only must be repaid once the course has been completed and in case of adequate income. As part of the Excellence Initiative of the Federation and the Länder for the Promotion of Science and Research in German Higher Education Institutions (Exzellenzinitiative des Bundes und der Länder zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Forschung an deutschen Hochschulen), the Federation and the Länder support scientific projects run by universities and their cooperation partners in the higher education sector, in extramural research as well as in the private economy. In detail, until 2011 additional funds totalling Euro 1.9 billion are provided in the funding areas

  • research schools for the promotion of scientific talent,
  • excellence clusters for the promotion of leading science and
  • future concepts for top-class research at universities.

In October 2006, the decisions on funding applications from higher education institutions in the first round of funding of the Excellence Initiative were made.

Virtual learning initiatives in Germany

In Germany there are many public and private distance e-learning initiatives. In 2006 there were more than 350,000 people participating in distance e-learning programs. 88,000 of them were taking part in higher education: 63,000 in distance teaching universities and 25,000 in other universities. Participants mainly are female and between 20 and 30 years old.

Organisation and politics

Many universities have got their own "e-learning-competence-centres", that do research in e-learning and offer an e-learning-infrastructure as well as programs for academics like the E-Competence Agentur of the universitiy of Duisburg-Essen. Some of those "competence-centers" are also on level of the "Bundesländer" (see above) like the Kompetenzzentrum Niedersachsen eLearning. On a national level there are virtual institutions of higer education, mostly consortiums of institutions in a region like the so called virtual university of applied sciences: Virtuelle Fachhochschule (for more detailed information see point 3 in Table 1 of Switzerland), or virtual universities like the Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern or the Virtueller Campus Rheinlandpfalz. Governmental support programs tried to create and support those e-learning-structures in universities (for example the program "eLearning-Dienste für die Wissenschaft").

Since the year 2000 the Gesellschaft für Medien in der Wissenschaft e.V. (GMW) arranges an anual trinational award (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), for supporting instructional motivated activities, that are contributing quality assurance and effective anchorage of digital media in higher education: the medida prix. The award is supposed to initiate a structural change in institutions. Last governmental support programs focused on the topic of web 2.0 (see [1]). However e-learning is not a current issue in education politics.

E-learning-offers in the context of further education which are accompanied by tutorial support and assessment are a matter of distance education according to German law. The bill from 1977 is exactly called "Ferunterrichtsschutzgesetz" (FernUSG). This regulation for the protection of distance education focuses not on the technique but on the teaching-method as the spatial separation between learner and teacher. Those distance-learning-offers require an accreditation by the Staatliche Zentralstelle für FernUnterricht (ZFU) (federal agency for distance education). It is a special regulation for German providers (mainly for private sector) and is quite controversial – particularly in the European comparison.

In the year 2005 31 per cent of the federally accredited distance-education-courses (632) were classified as e-learning-courses. But more than 80 per cent of all distance-schools are supporting their distance education by e-learning nowadays. So the boundary between classical distance Education and E-Learning blurs.

An overview about current distance e-learning programs can be downloaded here. An historic overview about statistical dates concerning distance e-learning programs in higher education from 1999/2000 to 2006/2007 is available here: Media:Distance-E-Learning_unis_Englisch.pdf (in English language).

Best practice: examples of virtual higher education in Germany

In the following table interesting virtual learning opportunities in Germany are highlighted:

Table 1

Nr Name Institution City Type
1. FernUniversität in Hagen FernUniversität in Hagen Hagen Distance learning university.
2. Distance and International Studies Center Technische Universität Kaiserslautern Kaiserslautern Higher Distance Education.
3. Europäische Fernhochschule Hamburg Europäische Fernhochschule Hamburg Hamburg Distance learning / continuing education.
4. [http://www.akad.de/ AKAD Privat-Hochschulen AKAD] Stuttgart Privat higher education.
5. Hamburger Fernhochschule Klett-Gruppe Hamburg Distance learning.
6. Multimediales Begleitstudium Jura European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) Conjunctive courses Higher Education.
7. Wilhelm Büchner Hochschule Wilhelm Büchner Hochschule Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.
8. ZFH Zentralstelle für Fernstudien an Fachhochschulen Koblenz Higher Distance Education.
9. oncampus Lübeck University of Applied Sciences Lübeck Higher Distance Education.


1) The FernUniversität in Hagen is the only state-maintained distance teaching university in the German-speaking countries and regions. Presently, around 43.000 students are registered. Togehter with cross registered students the number even rise to 55.450 students. They benefit from the modern distance education system which combines pedagogically well prepared study units with individual support, net-based co-operation in seminars and working groups, online communication offers and face-to-face sessions. Contacts between students and tutors are to be found on the main campus at Hagen as well as in around 60 study centres in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Central and Eastern Europe. The FernUniversität offers a real alternative to on-campus studies with high-quality degrees (Bachelor, Master, ‘Diplom’, and Doctorate). Meanwhile, the FernUniversität has existed for more than 30 years and is an established institution in the scientific community.

2) The Distance and International Study Center (DISC) of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern is a leading institution in the area of postgraduate programmes in Germany. The courses on offer range from e-commerce and -business to nano-biotechnology. For undergraduates the center offers electrical and technical engineering. A special opportunity: People can start their on-campus-studies after a first year of distance learning, for example alongside the last year of school or while working. Altogether the TU Kaiserslautern counts 2810 students in distance-education.

3) The state-accredited Europäische Fernhochschule Hamburg (European Distance-University Hamburg) is part of the Klett-Gruppe, one of the large suppliers of educational services in Europe. It offers courses in "European business administration" and a "Master of Business Administration" and confers the academic degrees of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Diplom-Kaufmann/ -Kauffrau (FH) (university business graduate) and Master of Business Administration (MBA). The curriculum is internationaly orientated. In accordance to the Hamburg law regarding university education, students can be admitted to study European business administration even if they don't have a high school diploma or haven't completed their A-levels. Students can start their studies at Euro-FH anytime. In 2008/9 around 3200 students were registerd.

4) AKAD is the leading private institution of higher education in Germany. It offers bachelor-, master- and diploma- programmes especially for students working in the field of business (furthermore informatics and languages). Among study centres and cooperations there are three “Fachhochschulen” (Universities of applied sciences) belonging to AKAD: the AKAD FH, Stuttgart (2443 students in 2006/2007), Leipzig (1337) and Pinneberg (2064). Students can chose between full-time or part-time (50 or 25 percent) studies when studying with AKAD.

5) With 7200 students in 2008 the Hamburger Fern-Hochschule is one of the biggest private institutions of Higher Education in Germany. It offers study-programs in the business-, in the technology- and the health-sector. The programs are especially concepted for people working while studying. In 39 regional study centres in Germany and Austria students can get support near to their home. Students can start there studies or on January 1th or on July 1th.

6) The European University Viadrina offers in cooperation with other universities conjunctive multimedia courses. The project was sponsored by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal ministy of education and research). So called knowledgeTools® modularrly organized on a learning platform visualize the procedure of cases. They accompany and visulate the audit trail of assignments and exams.

7) The Wilhelm Büchner Hochschule or Priv. Fern-FH Darmstadt (Private Distance-University of Applied Science Darmstadt) is with 5000 students in 2008 the biggest technical university of applied sciences in Germany. It offers bachelor and diploma-degrees in informatics and engineering. Unlike public institutions students can start their studies at anytime during the year.

8) In 1996 the Zentralstelle für Fernstudien an Fachhochschulen (Central Department of correspondance courses in Universities of applied sciences) was founded by a treaty of the Bundesländer Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland with domicile in Koblenz. Its task is to support the development and accomplishment of Distance Education in the institutions of Higher Education of the three Länder. The Bundesland Rheinland-Pfalz invigilates the initative.

9) The online study paths of the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences were invented within a first federal lead project called “Virtuelle Fachhochschule (VFH)” (=Virtual University of Applied Sciences). Between 1998 and late 2003 mainly seven universities from different Bundesländer were engaged in inventing online pathways. Lead-managed by the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences this university network developed a bachelor's and master's degree programme Media Informatics and a bachelor's programme Industrial Engineering. In the meantime in Lüneburg it is also offered a Continuing Education Master Programme and Consecutive Master Programme concerning Industrial Engineering, in cooperation with universities in Sweden, Norway, Finland, as a joint study programme of the Kiel University of Applied Sciences and Lübeck University of Applied Sciences.

References

[2]Extensive Information on Germany's higher education institutions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany/Wikipedia-article "Germany"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_of_GermanyWikipedia-article "States of Germany"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_GermanyWikipedia-article "Education in Germany"

http://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/doc/Dokumentation/Bildungswesen_en_pdfs/en-2006.pdf The Education System in the Federal Republic of Germany presented by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany

http://www.daad.orgInformations of the German Academic Exchange Service

http://www.destatis.deInformations of the Federal Statistical Office

http://www.forum-distance-learning.de/fdl_3fa8c95f7ea6.htmInformations on the topic of distance learning- Statistics about German distance Education

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtuelle_Universit%C3%A4tWikipedia-article "Virtual university"

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-LearningWikipedia-article "E-Learning"

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/FernunterrichtWikipedia-article "Distance Education"

http://www.fnm-austria.at/stategie/Dateiablage/view/nml-nib/06-nml-nib-international-laenderbericht-deutschland.pdf NML-NIB in international context Country report Germany


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