Tag: Germany

Hedda podcast: Party politics and political economy of the welfare states


Professor M. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz)

Episode 47 of our podcast series features Prof. Marius Busemeyer (University of Konstanz).

In the podcast, he discusses some of the key findings from his recent book “Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States”. Summarising key aspects of how skill regimes have developed in europe, he further reflects on what he as a researcher found as the most interesting finding and shares his thoughts on the practical implications of his research.

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Prof. Marius Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. He received his PhD in political science from University of Heidelberg in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. He further received his Habilitation in Political science at University of Cologne in 2010. From 2011 he has worked as a professor at University of Konstanz where he is a head of department in Politics and Public administration since 2014. In 2010, he received a grant from German National Science Foundation (DFG) (Emmy-Noether Program) for his work on “The Politics of Education and Training Reform in Western Welfare States”, and in 2012 he received the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. His main research interests are in the area of comparative political economy, welfare states, public spending, social democratic parties and theories of institutional change.


Towards more predictable career-paths for young researchers in Germany?

Jens Jungblut  (HEIK/Hedda)

Jens Jungblut

In this post, Hedda’s Jens Jungblut examines a proposal for new career paths for young researchers in German higher education. Jens is working at the University of Oslo where he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the relationship between shifts in governments and changes in higher education policy. 

The German Council for Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) is the most important advisory body for higher education policy in Germany. They consult both the federal and the Bundesländer governments in questions relating to the structure and development of higher education and research. In their most recent recommendation they address the career paths for young researchers in German higher education, which especially in the phase following the PhD is characterized as very problematic, and they suggest some fundamental reforms.

The problematic situation for young researchers in Germany

In the view of the Wissenschaftsrat, the career paths at German universities can be characterized as very diverse and not transparent, which makes them hard to navigate and communicate especially internationally. At the moment the main professional aim of an academic career in Germany is obtaining a Chair and becoming a professor, as this gives academic independence and a permanent contract. However, going down this road poses a risk for young researchers, as there is only limited data available on the number of applications and the chances of obtaining a professorship. What is known is that the number of temporary positions, especially for young researchers who are working on obtaining a PhD, has increased by 45% between 2000 and 2012. In the same period, the number of professorial positions and other permanent academic positions stayed more ore less stable. This led to a de-coupling of the different career steps and a situation where one is, relatively speaking, less likely to obtain a permanent position in academia.

Guest blogger: The hybridization of vocational training and higher education in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

Dr. Lukas Graf  (Universoty of Luxembourg)

Dr. Lukas Graf
(University of Luxembourg)

This guest entry is written by Dr. Lukas Graf who works at the Institute of Education and Society (University of Luxembourg). Previously Lukas was a research fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center where he studied the changing relationship between vocational training and higher education in international comparison.

The post draws on a recent book: Graf, L. (2013) The Hybridization of Vocational Training and Higher Education in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Opladen/Berlin/Toronto, Budrich UniPress. Click here to download the book for free

This guest entry looks at institutional changes in the relationship between vocational education and training (VET) and higher education (HE) in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. It is quite common for foreign observers to praise these three countries for the quality of their VET systems. All three countries are part of the “collective skill system cluster” (Busemeyer and Trampusch 2012) and are renowned for their extensive dual apprenticeship training systems at upper-secondary level.

Dual apprenticeship training distinguishes itself from vocational training in most other European countries as it integrates training in schools and companies on the basis of extensive mediation and coordination between the state, employers, and labor representatives. In this “dual corporatist” model, practical vocational training plays a more dominant role than academic, general education – at least when compared to the two other “classic” training models, the “liberal market economy” model (e.g., in the United Kingdom) and the “state-regulated bureaucratic” model (e.g., in France) (Greinert 2005).

However, in recent years Austria, Germany, and Switzerland have also faced increasing criticism regarding the lack of permeability they provide between VET and HE. That is, as well as having an extensive system of dual apprenticeship training, there is also a historically evolved strong institutional divide between the fields of VET and HE in all three countries. In analyzing the case of Germany, Baethge (2006) has referred to this institutional divide as an “educational schism.” In fact, it can be argued that the education systems of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are made up of two separate organizational fields, one for VET and one for HE. Over the past decades this institutional divide has been increasingly called into question. For example, the demand for skills in the workplace has changed towards more general analytical skills and away from narrowly defined job-specific skills, which challenges the main emphasis of vocational education and training practices. Furthermore, the rise in the level of average skill requirements in the service economy and knowledge society, as well as the rise in young peoples’ educational aspirations, call for greater permeability between the fields of VET and HE.

Australia on top regarding total costs for studying

HSBC, an international banking organisation has examined study costs in 13 countries in terms of tuition and overall living costs to determine the most expensive countries to study in.

Their results indicate that Australia is with a relatively clear margin the most expensive country to study in – topping the list for both highest tuition fees as well as highest living costs. Australia is followed by US and UK in the list of most expensive countries, but the costs for studying in UK are over 20% lower than in Australia – from over 38,5 thousand dollars down to just over 30 thousand annually. It should also be noted that tuition fees in United Arab Emirates are also above those of UK, despite recent considerable increases in UK.

With a clear margin the cheapest country to study in is Germany, where average annual tuition is 625 dollars, and living costs account for 5650, about 40% of those in Australia.

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Read the whole review here.

Growing criticism towards German university alliances?

Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo)

Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo)

In this post, Hedda associate Jens Jungblut examines current developments with the German university alliances. Jens is working at the University of Oslo where he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the relationship between shifts in governments and changes in higher education policy. 

Institutional differentiation is something rather new to the German university landscape. While classically German universities were, and to a large extend still are, characterized by equality of funding and reputation, different recent activities aimed at creating more diversification in the system. The first and most influential of these activities was the excellence initiative by the federal and Länder governments. In a parallel process several universities formed alliances and associations, following the British example of the Russell-Group, to cooperate in a situation of growing competition for funding and students (see also an earlier article on this issue).

Open letter from a rector criticizing university alliances

Recently the debate around the differentiation of the German university system entered a new round. Ulrich Radtke, the rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, published an open letter to the German rectors’ conference, in which he criticized the decision of his colleagues to form university alliances.

The University of Duisburg-Essen is the youngest universities in Germany and not a member of any of the German university associations. It is the result of a recent merger of two smaller universities and characterized by a relatively high percentage of students of non-traditional background.

Radtke criticizes several aspects of the newly established university alliances. He starts off by describing the university alliances as co-operations of the old and large universities against the young and smaller ones that try to enhance their position in a higher education system that is characterized by serious under-funding and student overload. For him the German higher education system offers a lot of excellent research environments but they are to be found on the departmental level and spread between many higher education institutions. For him there are maybe three or four universities in Germany that could claim to be overall stronger than the others, the rest are more or less equal.