10 Facts about the German education system

1. Germany is investing too little
Graphic on the topic: Germany is investing too little in education.
Selection of OECD countries
Source: OECD 2015

The total expenditure on educational institutions from public and private sources in Germany in 2012 was only 4.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). OECD countries invested 5.3 per cent of their GDP.

The federal government, the Länder and municipalities are spending almost ten per cent of household spending in day-care centers, schools and universities. This means that Germany, together with Portugal, ranks 21st in the OECD as a whole and has not significantly increased its expenditure since 2005. OECD countries account for 11.6 percent of total public spending.

2. Equal opportunities must be further improved
Graphic on the subject: Equal opportunities need to be further improved.
* Working population over 25 years without school leaving certificate or with primary and secondary vocational education and training
Source: Economic Development, July 2016

Germany now has more educators than lower-middle-class: among the 30-40-year-olds, 41 per cent reach a higher education level than their parents. According to calculations by the Institute of the German Economy Cologne, just under 18 percent is below the level of their parents for the year 2012.

However, the family background continues to have an important impact on the success of children's education system. In particular, pupils who do not speak German at home are significantly worse off in PISA examinations with regard to mathematics, science and reading than their classmates.

3. Every second university title belongs to a woman
Graphic on the topic: Every second university title belongs to a woman.
Sources: Federal Statistical Office 2014 and 2016

More and more women are attracted to the universities: in 2014, 50.1 percent of the study population was female. In 1994, the share was 45.1 percent.

And the women are successful: over the past few years, they have regularly represented more than half of the university graduates.

Nevertheless, academics are less likely to work as academics: according to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of academics accounted for 8.7 per cent of all graduates and 11.1 per cent of academics.

4. German students are among the oldest in Europe
Graphic: German students are among the oldest in Europe.
* Average of the EU-28 group
Source: Eurostat 2014

Even though the average age of German students has declined, they remain among the oldest in Europe. If they were still 24 years old on average in 2002, they are about 7 months younger on average ten years later. Reasons for this include reforms such as the eight-year Gymnasium and the abolition of military service.

However, they are even older in 2012, when the average number of EU students is around 22 years

5. Nearly six percent go without graduation
Graphic on the topic: Almost six percent go without conclusion.
Source: Federal Statistical Office 2016

In the year 2014, a total of 46,950 students completed their schooling without qualification. 5.5 per cent of the year did not succeed in completing at least one Hauptschulabschluss. Thus, the number of drop-outs continues to be slow.

The proportion of students who do not have German citizenship is particularly high: Here, the number of dropouts in 2014 was 11.9 percent.

6. Dual studies are popular
Graphic on the topic: Dual studies are popular.
Sources: Statista 2014, Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training 2014

The combination of vocational and academic training is increasingly in demand in Germany: in 2014 there were 1,505 dual courses according to the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. From 2013 to 2014 alone, 491 were added. This represents an increase of around 48 percent.

The offer is geared to the bottlenecks in the company: In 2014 there were 487 dual courses, most offers in economics, followed by the discipline of engineering and process engineering (232 courses).

7. Number of training contracts reached low
Graph on the topic: Number of training contracts reached low
Sources: Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung 2012 and 2014, Federal Ministry of Education and Research 2016 and Federal Statistical Office 2014

The number of newly concluded training contracts fell by 201 per cent in 2015 by 0.2 per cent to 522,094 - as few training contracts as ever in reunited Germany.

In addition to demographic trends, the decline in training contracts is also explained by the fact that more and more young people choose to study.

8. Better education creates higher economic growth
Graphic on the subject: Better education creates higher economic growth
* For high school graduates it is assumed that they do not pay in the 19th and 20 years of age. This assumption applies to academics from the age of 19 to 25.
Source: Institute for Occupational and Occupational Research (IAB) 2014

A country's economic growth is closely linked to the education level of its population. Calculations show that an improvement in the educational output of 25 Pisa points increases annual growth by about half a percentage point. Over a period of 50 years, the per capita income would rise by more than 25 percent.

The impact of the level of education is particularly noticeable in individual merit. On average, a person with a university degree earns 75 per cent more in his life than someone with vocational training.

9. Refugees need better access to education
Graphic: Refugees need better access to education
Source: Federal Agency for Labor 2016

The Integration Act aims to enable refugees to enter the labor market more quickly. For 61 per cent of the unemployed refugees, however, there are still only helper activities, for example because they are not yet able to speak German well or have a recognized professional qualification.


Many obstacles to the labor market can be reduced by more education: as an investigation by IW Cologne shows, some 79 per cent of companies see the greatest obstacles in missing language skills, some 60 per cent in the low skill level. 60 per cent of unemployed refugees are under 35 years of age - an age where education can still do a lot.

10. MINT subjects must become more attractive
Graphic on the topic: MINT subjects must become more attractive
Selection of fan groups
* Graduates who enrolled in the university for the first time in 2006
Source: Federal Statistical Office 2016

Although the number of students in the MINT subjects rose by 9.1 per cent from 2012 to 2014 to 1,035,841. Nevertheless, many vacancies remain unoccupied: In April 2016, 380,800 vacancies were open in the MINT professions.

To meet the needs, MINT skills should be encouraged at school. This should also increase the success rates at the universities. In mathematics and natural sciences, only 69.3 percent of the first-year students attain their degrees, while engineering sciences reach 76.4 percent. On the other hand, 79% of all study courses are concluded.

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