Dynamic Academic Landscape
Germany has a remarkably diverse higher education sector. It includes famous universities in major cities like Berlin Berlin Once a year, during the Berlinale film festival, the world of the silver screen focuses its attention on Berlin. And the city’s inhabitants are used to global interest. After all, the people of Berlin have lived in a capital city since 1458. However, there is also a shady side to the city’s history… Read more › and Munich, yet outstanding higher education institutions can also be found in Aachen, Heidelberg and Karlsruhe. Medium-sized universities with a strong focus on research and smaller institution with an outstanding reputation form the nucleus of the academic world. Many German universities feature in international rankings, with 9 German universities in the top 200 in the Shanghai Rankings, 11 in the QS World University Rankings and 22 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The universities of Munich and Heidelberg perform particularly well.
According to data from the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) in 2021 students in Germany could choose from 420 higher education institutions (120 universities, 243 universities of applied sciences, and 57 academies of music and art). These institutions offer a total of 20,593 degree courses. Funding for 272 higher education institutions is provided by the state, 38 by the church and 110 are funded privately.
High standards and focused on practice
In Germany there are essentially three types of higher education institution: universities, universities of applied sciences, and academies of art, film and music. They differ in terms of their structure and purpose.
While traditional universities offer a broad range of subjects, technical universities Technical universities Universities with an especially strong technical focus operate as Technical Universities (TU) or Technical Colleges (TH). They attach greater importance to basic research than do universities of applied science. The nine leading TUs have joined ranks to form the TU9 Initiative. They have an… Read more › (TU), focus on fundamental research in engineering and the natural sciences. In 2006 the nine leading technical universities formed the TU9 Initiative.
The universities regard themselves not only as teaching institutes but as research centres too, and as such still embody Wilhelm von Humboldt’s educational
ideal of the unity of research and teaching. The universities’ primary objective is to nurture the next generation of academics and researchers, to teach academically robust specialist knowledge, and to train academics to work and research independently.
The 243 universities of applied science are a unique feature of the German higher education system through their strong focus on practical applications. Some remarkable social and technological innovations Innovations In 2016, company spending on research and development rose to 62.8 billion Euros. The automotive industry accounts for a large share of these investements. Read more › have been achieved at universities of applied science and at smaller and medium-sized universities. In order to provide targeted support to help transfer these innovations into business, the Federal Government Federal Government The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives… Read more › set up the German Agency for Transfer and Innovation (DATI), which was provided with initial funding of 15 million euros for this purpose. The aim is to give an additional boost to the startup culture at German higher education institutions.
Increasing numbers of students
University education is on the rise in Germany. In 2005, 37% of young people enrolled on a university course, but by 2021 that figure had risen to 52%. The Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) enables young people to complete a degree course independently of their family’s financial situation In the 2021/2022 winter semester there were around 2.9 million students enrolled at higher education institutions. Federal and state governments are joining forces to respond to the increasing numbers of students. In late 2014, as part of the Higher Education Pact 2020, they approved funding for up to 760,000 additional university places in the subsequent years. For the entire duration of the Higher Education Pact from 2007 to 2023, the Federal Government Federal Government The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives… Read more › is providing 20.2 billion euros, and the states 18.3 billion euros.
Excellence and internationalisation
With the Excellence Initiative, the
The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives…
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and the individual Bundesländer are giving a boost to cutting-edge research at universities. The Initiative funds Clusters of Excellence in specific fields of research as well as so-called Universities of Excellence. It follows on from the previous Excellence Initiative of 2005 to 2017, when the Federal Government and the states provided particularly outstanding research projects and facilities with funding worth a total of 4.6 billion euros. The Excellence Initiative consists of two parts. Through the Clusters of Excellence, internationally competitive fields of research at universities are funded on a project-by-project basis. These clusters facilitate
interdisciplinary collaboration among academics working on a specific research objective. A total of 57 Clusters of Excellence were selected for the first round of funding, which lasts for seven years and commenced in 2019. Total funding for all Clusters of Excellence each year is worth 385 million euros.
Universities involved in at least two Clusters of Excellence can use the title “University of Excellence”. For a period of seven years from the end of 2019, ten Universities of Excellence throughout Germany and the Berlin Berlin Once a year, during the Berlinale film festival, the world of the silver screen focuses its attention on Berlin. And the city’s inhabitants are used to global interest. After all, the people of Berlin have lived in a capital city since 1458. However, there is also a shady side to the city’s history… Read more › University Alliance, which comprises the Freie Universität, the Humboldt-Universität, the Technische Universität and the Charité University Hospital, are receiving total funding of around 148 million euros each year.
Global networks and experience abroad
German higher education institutions have a strong international focus. The German Rectors’ Conference has identified more than 37,000 international cooperation agreements with partner institutions in more than 150 countries. Many of these partnerships include programmes where students can achieve double degrees. Many higher education institutions are involved in the development of German study courses and the setting up of higher education institutions based on the German model, such as those in China, Egypt, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Oman, Singapore, Vietnam and Turkey.
Funding is also being provided to promote international mobility for German students, with around 134,000 completing a stay abroad in 2021. Scholarships such as the Erasmus+ programme support these valuable study visits.