Higher Education in Germany

Germany's universities are recognised internationally; in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) for 2008, six of the top 100 universities in the world are in Germany, and 18 of the top 200. Germany ranks third in the QS World University Rankings 2011.

Most of the German universities are public institutions, charging fees of only around €60-200 per semester for each student, usually to cover expenses associated with the university cafeterias and (usually mandatory) public transport tickets. Thus, academic education is open to most citizens and studying is very common in Germany. The dual education system combines both practical and theoretical education but does not lead to academic degrees. It is more popular in Germany than anywhere else in the world and is a role model for other countries.

The oldest universities of Germany are also among the oldest and best regarded in the world, with Heidelberg University being the oldest (established in 1386 and in continuous operation since then). It is followed by Cologne University (1388), Leipzig University (1409), Rostock University (1419), Greifswald University (1456), Freiburg University (1457), LMU Munich (1472) and the University of Tübingen (1477).

While German universities have a strong focus on research, a large part of it is also done outside of universities in independent institutes that are embedded in academic clusters, such as within the Max Planck, Fraunhofer, Leibniz and Helmholtz institutes. This German peculiarity of "outsourcing" research leads to a competition for funds between universities and research institutes and may negatively affect academic rankings.

Figures for Germany are roughly:
1,000,000 new students at all schools put together for one year
400,000 Abitur graduations
30,000 doctoral dissertations per year
1000 habilitations per year (the traditional way to qualify as a professor, but typically postdoc or junior professorship is the preferred career path nowadays, which are not accounted for in this number)