In 2006, Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed that Germany wouldturn into a “Bildungsrepublik” fostering higher education, LifeLong Learning and the upgrading of its labor force. A Commission ofExperts was appointed monitoring that the implementation of reformsproceeded properly. Now, this very commission urged in its newest
Fighting demographic change and skillsshortage
More concretely, Merkel’s expert panel demands that universitiesshould be opened to qualified apprentices and all citizens olderthan 40 – independent of whether they passed the German Abitur ornot. Right now, 98% of all students gain access to universitieshaving completed their advanced high school degree (Abitur).
According to the Commission of Experts, this is an unbearablesituation given an aging population and the impending retirement ofmany academics at universities. The labor market would furthermorebe constrained by a skill shortage.
“Germany’s role as a hotspot for innovation could be damaged, ifthe government does not manage to improve our current education andtraining system.” Merkel’s panel fears that Germany could fallbehind internationally. Study success at universities was increasedfrom 18% to 25% since 2000. Other OECD countries meanwhile managedto boost study success from 28% to 38%.
Part-time education key to new strategy
The wall between vocational and academic education needed to bebroken down. In this context, universities needed to decide ontheir new role and mission. This mission should include “educatingof citizens from non-academic backgrounds” and “offering ofpart-time studies which can be concluded alongside professionalactivities”.
The latter is currently fiercely debated in the Netherlands aswell. The Education Ministry is said to work on plans to
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