Per-student spending in Germany drops drastically

A report presented by the OECD in Berlin on Thursday gave Germany good marks in comparison with other countries for its educational standards, but there were still some negative headlines.

Per-student spending in Germany drops drastically
Photo: DPA

The study showed that since 2008, per-student spending in Germany has dropped by ten percent, as the state struggles to keep up with a surge in demand for university-level education.

Germany did increase its spending on higher education between 2008 and 2013 by 16 percent, the report showed, but this failed to keep up with the 28 percent increase in the number of young people choosing further education.

The amount of money directly spent on things related to instruction was $9,085 per student in Germany at the higher education level. This was below the OECD average of $10,222.

A large part of the reason for this comparative under-funding is the lack of student fees, the report shows. While on average in OECD countries 30 percent of a student’s education is funded by private sources, namely fees, in Germany only 14 percent of funding is private.

On the other hand, pre-school education in Germany is funded well above the OECD average by private means, a fact which the OECD says reinforces social inequality.

The children of well-educated families are allowed to study for free, rather than being given loans which they can pay back dependent on income, while kindergarten fees constrain less-well off parents of young children, OECD education expert Andreas Schleicher said in Berlin on Thursday.

Figures published by the Federal Statistical Office last week showed that the educational level of a child’s parents still plays an important role in its educational advancement.

Just 14 percent of kids whose parents do not have university degrees go down the path towards university themselves, the figures showed.

But the OECD report also shows that 94 percent of three-year-olds attend kindergarten in Germany, well above the OECD average of 71 percent.

Good marks

Nonetheless the report, Education at a Glance 2016, did generally place Germany well in comparison with other OECD countries.

It particularly praised Germany for the fact that its vocational training system meant that the country has a very low unemployment rate.

Only 8.4 percent of Germans between the ages of 15 and 29 are either not in employment or not in full-time education – that is the lowest in the OECD except for Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

It is also a considerable improvement on a decade ago when 15 percent of young people were neither employed nor in education.

According to Schleicher, this is “the outstanding strength of the German education system.”

The report also points out that German teachers are some of the best paid in the OECD, and that salaries are equivalent to those in other highly qualified professions.

At the same time, the German education system expects teachers to perform too many teaching hours, the report argued.

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

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“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.