Friday, November 10, 2006

The Sad State of German Education

From today's WSJ, an editorial "Educating Germans" about Germany's poor and declining higher education system, partly because of the country's egalitarian federalism which promotes equal funding for all universities regardless of quality, to provide "equal" education across the country. Consider that:

1. Germans practically invented the modern research university in the 19th century, but today not a single German university ranks in world's top 50 universities (the University of Heidelberg ranks #58).

2. The concept of elitism is rejected in Germany universities, and academic mediocrity has been the predictable result. Just 20.6% of adult Germans have completed college, compared with an OECD average of 35%.

3. Most university education is free, and so students consider higher education a "free" service and not an investment in human capital, an attitude that has led to high drop-out rates and long years of study.

4. The civil-servant status of professors makes it impossible to fire even sub-par academics.

In other words, insulation from competition has led to inferior and declining quality of German higher education. Sound a little like American public schools?

Conclusion: Competition breeds competence (those words have the same Latin root: competere), insulation from competition breeds incompetence.

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