- © Lichtenscheidt/DAAD
Germany is home to approx. 400 higher education institutions which offer the entire range of academic disciplines. The German higher education system is characterised by a close link between learning, teaching and research. This principle has a long tradition and was formulated by Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), the philosopher and founder of the Universität zu Berlin, the predecessor institution of today’s Humboldt University in Berlin.
Germany is one of the world’s most attractive research and higher education nations. Nearly 320,000 international students are enrolled at German higher education institutions. Currently, almost 26,000 international doctoral students are enrolled and over 38,000 international academics work in German higher education institutions.
Promoting top-level research
The Federal Government and the German states (Länder) have set up the Excellence Initiative that provides additional support for research activities in various disciplines at German universities. From 2006 to 2017 a total of 4.6 billion euros will be invested to promote top-level research and improve the international competitiveness of German higher education and research. The first decisions have already been taken to continue the programme for another round.
Higher education instiutions
There are approx. 400 higher education institutions in Germany. This total includes
- 110 universities (Universitäten) and
- over 230 universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen/Hochschulen für angewandte Wissenschaften).
The latter offer students a practice-oriented academic education with an emphasis on applied research.
Political and public voice of German higher education
The German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK) is the association of state and state-recognised higher education institutions in Germany. It is the political and public voice of German higher education and the forum within which higher education institutions form joint opinions. It currently has 268 member institutions at which more than 94% of all students in Germany are enrolled.
Facts and Figures
Approx. 400 higher education institutions
(including more than 230 universities of applied sciences; 2015)
662,000 staff in total, 370,000 academic staff (2013)
2.7 million students in total, 320,000 international students (11.8%); (2014/15)
Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) at institutions of higher education: 14.3 billion euros (2013)
Universities and other higher education institutions offer a broad spectrum of research activities, including basic research and applied research and development (R&D).More than 97,000 of Germany’s 361,000 R&D researchers work at higher education institutions and university hospitals.
Higher education institutions spend roughly 14 billion euros on research and development. Around half of this total comes from third-party funding, which amounted to 6.9 billion euros in 2012.
The largest share of R&D expenditure, roughly 4.1 billion euros, goes to the fields of mathematics and the natural sciences; they are closely followed by medicine and health research, which have access to roughly 3.5 billion euros a year.
- Source: OECD
Gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) at institutions of higher education totals 14.3 billion euros (2013) and is borne by
- the public (81%),
- industry (14%) and
- international funding (5%).