States should be responsible for education

Cooperation between the federal and state governments

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) often promotes education and research with large funding programs and thus through project funding. There is also departmental research and institutional funding for facilities and projects. BAföG, Aufstiegs-BAföG (AFBG), Deutschlandstipendium are examples of person-related funding on a legal basis.

The "federal principle"

In 1949 the decision was made in favor of the “federal principle”, consciously turning away from the National Socialist central state. Because in addition to the classic separation of powers, it offers a further division of state power: namely that between the federal government and the states. This not only prevents an abuse of power, but also enables local and citizen-oriented decisions.

The federal structure was so important to the mothers and fathers of the Basic Law that they provided the federal principle as well as the democratic and rule of law principles with an “eternity guarantee” (Art. 79 Paragraph 3 GG).
 

"School" is a matter of the country

Our constitution, the Basic Law (GG), provides the framework for all funding activities. The freedom of research is not only guaranteed in Art. 5 Paragraph 3. The GG also stipulates that Germany is a federal state. This means that both the state as a whole (“Federation”) and the sixteen federal states have their own state quality. The GG also states which issues the federal government is responsible for. “School” and predominantly “university” are a matter for the federal states. The federal states work together in the Standing Conference of Education Ministers in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK), in which the BMBF is a permanent guest.

The federal and state governments work together

This separation of duties does not mean that the federal and state governments are prohibited from cooperating. Within the scope of their responsibilities, they are allowed to work together and do so. A good example of this is the Education Chains Initiative. In addition, the Basic Law allows them to work together legally on so-called “joint tasks” beyond their own areas of responsibility.

Federal competences

The constitution stipulates that the federal government may only take action insofar as the Basic Law transfers competences to it (Art. 30 GG).

In terms of legislation, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is particularly responsible for the following areas:

  • the extracurricular vocational training and further education (Art. 74 para. 1 nos. 11 and 12 GG); The federal government has made use of this, for example with the Vocational Training Act. It regulates vocational training preparation, extracurricular vocational training, professional training and professional retraining.
  • the Regulation of training grants (Article 74, Paragraph 1, No. 13 of the Basic Law); The federal government has made use of this with the BAföG, the Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz (AFBG) and the law for the creation of a national scholarship program (so-called Germany scholarship). With the Deutschlandstipendium, the federal government has launched a nationwide program that includes private donors in top-level funding at German universities. The benefits according to the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) has been financed by the federal government alone since January 1, 2015 and has increased it substantially in the 2016/17 winter semester. With the Aufstiegs-BAföG (Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz) the federal and state governments have enabled around 1.9 million career advancement to managers, medium-sized companies and trainers since 1996 with a funding of 7.4 billion euros.
  • the University admission and degrees (Art. 74, Paragraph 1, No. 33 of the Basic Law), although the Länder may make different regulations here.
  • promoting scientific research (Article 74, Paragraph 1, No. 13 of the Basic Law)

The community tasks

The joint tasks (Art. 91a ff. GG) supplement the delimitation of competences between the Federation and the Länder by a cooperation system that is restricted to certain subject areas and privileges these areas.

Art. 91b GG

The cooperation between the federal and state governments in science, research, teaching and education is regulated in Art. 91b of the Basic Law, which was last amended on January 1, 2015.

On the basis of agreements, the federal government and the federal states can work together to promote science, research and teaching in cases of supra-regional importance. Agreements that affect universities as a priority require the approval of all federal states. This does not apply to agreements on research buildings including large equipment.

Article 91b paragraph 1 GG

Art. 91b GG is the central constitutional provision for the joint promotion of science, research and teaching by the federal and state governments. According to this provision, the federal government and the federal states can work together on the basis of agreements in cases of supra-regional importance in the promotion of science, research and teaching (examples: promotion of non-university research institutions; university pact, excellence strategy, pact for research and innovation, quality pact teaching, quality offensive teacher training) ( Art. 91b para. 1 GG).

With the amendment to Art. 91b of the Basic Law proposed by the BMBF and which came into force on January 1, 2015, the possibilities for cooperation between the Federation and the Länder in the field of science were significantly expanded in cases of supra-regional importance. The federal government and the federal states can now set common priorities and profile building even more effectively than before, with which the efficiency of the German scientific landscape and its excellence can be improved in breadth and top The amendment to the Basic Law enables the federal government to support universities, individual institutes or groups of institutes in the long term. Previously, funding was only possible through limited-term programs. With the amendment to Art. 91b GG, the federal government and the federal states can also support the cooperation between universities and non-university institutions (examples: KIT, BIG) much more easily and efficiently.

On the basis of agreements, the federal government and the federal states can work together to determine the performance of the education system in an international comparison and to provide reports and recommendations on this.

Article 91b paragraph 2

Via Art. 91b (2) of the Basic Law, the federal government and the federal states can also work together to determine the performance of the educational system in an international comparison (examples: national and international educational reporting) and to make related reports and recommendations.

Joint Science Conference (GWK)

The committee of ministers that decides on joint funding and negotiates the federal-state agreements is the Joint Science Conference (GWK). In it, the federal and state governments are represented with equal proportions of votes and alternate with chairing the committees.

Grants for educational infrastructure

Art. 104c of the Basic Law is an exception to the federal co-financing of the education sector. The standard was added to the Basic Law in August 2017 and significantly expanded at the beginning of 2019. It enables the federal government to grant the federal states financial aid for nationally significant investments in the municipal educational infrastructure. The federal government has launched funding programs worth billions on the basis of Art. 104c GG. A prominent example is the School Digital Pact.