A Comparative Analysis
Chapter 8: Germany: Change through Continuity
Gabriele Ballarino 8.1 A DECENTRALIZED AND OCCUPATIONALLY ORIENTED HE SYSTEM From a comparative perspective, the German HE system has two characteristics defining its relation with the external environment. They are often claimed to represent the foundation of the system, and are also to be found at the basis of every proposal for a reform of the system. The first characteristic is a decentralized and federal structure (Teichler 1992). In fact, the constitution gives the Länder responsibility for the management of the educational system and for distributing autonomously the funds received from the Federation. Therefore, besides being governed by the federal Ministry (BMBW), the system is governed by a number of coordinating bodies created from the bottom up by the Länder governments or directly by the universities. These bodies include the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK), the German Research Foundation (DFG),1 the Conference for Scientific Research (WR), made up of representatives of the three above-mentioned bodies and of other institutions funding research. Since the 1950s, the HE system has expanded and the related costs have fostered a process of centralization and increased the authority of the federal government, culminating in the promulgation of the Hochschulrahmengesetz, the Framework Act of Higher Education (HRG) of 1976. Concomitant with a further expansion of the HE system, in the last years important centrifugal driving forces have regained strength, leading to a de facto abolition of the HRG...
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