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Education & knowledge

Vibrant Hub of Knowledge

Germany stands out for the breadth of its vocational and higher education system and the world-leading research carried out here.
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Germany enjoys a reputation around the world for its strength in innovation and wide-ranging academic and research system. The country’s 420 higher education institutions are the foundation of this success. Industrial research forms another key element in Germany’s status as a higher education location. One sign of this strength is that Germany is among the world’s leading nations in terms of numbers of patent applications. Germany’s four major non-university research institutes are the Fraunhofer Fraunhofer Fraunhofer is engaged in applied research. Its projects are commissioned by industry and service providers as well as state-run institutions. More than 25,000 members of staff together book an annual research volume of EUR 2.3 billion. Fraunhofer runs 72 Fraunhofer institutes and research… Read more › -Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association Helmholtz Association With 18 research centres, an annual budget of EUR 4.5 billion and more than 39,000 members of staff the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. It conducts research into energy, the earth and the environment, health, aerospace, transport, materials and key technologies.→… Read more › , the Leibniz Association Leibniz Association Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the last all-round scholars. The scientific range covered by the 93 research institutes is correspondingly broad, extending from the humanities and economics through to mathematics. The focus is on applied basic research. The Leibniz institutes… Read more › and the Max Planck Society Max Planck Society The Max Planck Society was founded on 26 February 1948 – as the successor to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften, established in 1911. The 83 Max Planck institutes conduct basic research in the natural, biological and social sciences and in the humanities. The Max… Read more › . They enjoy an excellent international reputation and play a key role in Germany's scientific and academic success.

Germany is investing heavily in research and science so as to ensure this innovative energy continues and flourishes. This puts the Fed­eral Republic among a leading group of nations that invest around 3% of GDP annually in research and development. The aim is for this to rise to at least 3.5% of all state expenditure by 2025.

Patents for global markets


From vocational training to world leading research

Compared to its international competitors, Germany’s education system is very well adapted to the needs of the labour market, not just in the context of cutting-edge research. Over 80% of adults hold an “Abitur” (the general higher edu­cation entrance diploma) or a vocational qualification, putting Germany above the average for OECD countries. Germany’s dual system of vocational education and training has long been a key element of this and enjoys an excellent reputation internationally.

The number of university students has risen sharply in recent years. In response, the Federal and state governments adopted the Higher Education Pact 2020 which provides funding for more places on university courses. Building on this, Federal and state governments have implemented a “future agreement” to improve conditions for students and teaching quality in the long-term.

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 › ’s Excellence Strategy supports pioneering research at universities. The Strat­egy funds Clusters of Excellence for targeted areas of research and Universities of Excellence, which are acknowledged internationally as beacons of outstanding higher education. Over 500 million euros are available for the entire programme each year.

The Federal Government aims to use its Future Strategy Research as an effective way of consolidating resources. As part of this, the government has defined key “future fields”. These include developing modern technologies for competitive and climate-neutral industry, creating a sustainable agricultural and food production system, strengthening technological sovereignty, and developing a resilient healthcare system that makes use of the opportunities from biotech and medical processes. The development of the first mRNA Covid-19 vaccine is considered a paradigm of successful state funding. The vaccine was developed by the Mainz-based firm Biontech, whose founders, Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin, also teach at the University of Mainz. The state provided substantial support for vaccine development at Biontech and other centres.



International outlook

German higher education and research institutions place great importance on maintaining an international outlook. Following the “Bologna process” of European higher education reform, the majority of university courses in Germany have been restructured as bachelor's and master’s degrees, which have become the inter­national standard. Many courses, particularly at master’s level, are offered in a foreign language, primarily in English. 

For many years Germany has been considered the most popular country outside English-speaking countries for international students. Around 1 in 10 of Germany’s approximately 3 million students come from abroad. Unlike many other countries, students pay no or only very limited fees to study at public higher education institutions in Germany (with the exception of certain states such as Baden-Wurttemberg Baden-Wurttemberg People in Baden-Wurttemberg are not keen to talk in superlatives, even though the state continually sets records. The region around Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Tübingen is one of those in the EU where the most research is conducted. Baden-Wurttemberg is the German leader for patent registrations in… Read more › ). Germany’s higher education and research institutions are also very attractive for international staff. For ex­ample. At the four major non-university research institutes, over 25% of staff come from abroad.

Networking with international partners is also very important to German higher education institutions, which are continually expanding their partnerships around the world. Germany’s support for its higher education institutions includes the German Academic Exchange Service ( DAAD DAAD The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is an organization run jointly by the German institutes of higher education. Its purpose is to promote relations between higher education institutes in Germany and abroad, especially through exchange schemes between students and academics. As a rule its… Read more › ), and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Humboldt Foundation The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation was founded in 1860 and today promotes academic collaboration between excellent foreign and German researchers. Every year it enables 2,000 international researchers to spend time working in Germany and maintains a worldwide network of some 28,000 Humboldtians… Read more › , which are funded by the Federal Foreign Office. Scholarship programmes are an essential element of Germany's foreign academic and higher education policy. These provide assistance to foreign students, academics and researchers for stays in Germany. Germany also funds higher education partnerships around the world. Over 37,000 agreements exist between higher education institutions in Germany and partners in over 150 countries.