Germany Law and Education


The legal system consists of federal and state law. Federal law is often based on codifications that were created at the end of the 19th century, for example in civil and criminal proceedings, criminal law, civil law and commercial law. These statutes have been adapted to the current situation and the requirements of the Basic Law of 1949 through numerous changes. Uniform procedural rules have been created for the general and special administrative courts (administrative court order, social court law, financial court order) and parts of the social security code. The codification of labor law is the least advanced. Special matters of administrative law such as environmental protection, commercial, civil service or construction law are mostly regulated by federal laws, which in some cases leave room for detailed laws of the states. General administrative law was largely unified and codified in the administrative procedural laws. A significant part of federal and state law is now determined by European law.


According to Topschoolsintheusa, the education system is subject to the cultural sovereignty of the federal states. The enactment of regulations on the types of schools, on the institutions and principles of teacher training, the participation of parents, the legal status of schools, academic universities including the theological faculties, universities of applied sciences, etc. is essentially left to the Länder. The federal government may participate in projects from science and research, whereby inter alia. University programs are facilitated; all countries must agree to such measures.

In order to ensure the quality of school education, the Standing Conference has agreed on educational standards for various educational qualifications, especially at the end of lower secondary level. There is general compulsory schooling from the age of 6 to 18, of which at least nine (in some Länder ten) years of full-time school and three (two) years of vocational school must be completed. Attending the four-year (six-year in Berlin and Brandenburg) elementary school is followed by courses of study with qualifications and authorizations that can be acquired in various types of school. The lower secondary level comprises Hauptschule (5th / 7th – 9th / 10th school year), Realschule (5th / 7th – 10th school year) and Gymnasium(5th / 7th – 10th school year). In almost all countries (integrated or cooperative) comprehensive schools have been set up, in which the secondary or secondary school certificate can be obtained; those with upper secondary school level lead to higher education entrance qualifications. In several countries, the types of school in the lower secondary level have country-specific names in which the traditional educational programs of the Hauptschule and Realschule are organizationally summarized: Middle school, secondary school, regular school, extended Realschule, connected Hauptschule and Realschule, integrated Hauptschule and Realschule, regional school. Grades 5 and 6 can also be used as an orientation level (Support level), in which the school career decision is kept open until the end of the 6th grade.

Schoolchildren and students in Germany

Pupils and students at general and vocational schools and universities (in 1,000)
1992 2014/15 2019/2020
general education schools 9 345 8 367 1) 8347
Elementary schools 3,420 2 709 2796
Secondary schools 1 483 508 387
School types with orientation levels, several courses of study 356 576 635
Special schools 360 335 317
Realschulen 1 057 951 816
High schools 2,047 2 305 2 226
integrated comprehensive schools, free Waldorf schools 493 904 1085
Evening schools and colleges 49 53 45
vocational schools 2,471 2,506 2491
Vocational schools 1,796 1 444
Vocational schools 264 426 324
Technical schools 172 193 182
Universities 1 834 2 755 2) 2,897
Universities 1 385 1 727 2)
Art schools 29 36 2)
Universities of applied sciences 420 929 2)
1) including school kindergartens and pre-school classes2) 2015/16

For pupils with special educational needs, whose support cannot be adequately guaranteed in a general school, there are different types of special schools in the area of ​​general and vocational schools depending on the type of disability. With the entry into force (2009) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the federal states are required to create the framework conditions for the practical implementation of inclusion.

After successfully completing secondary level I, the transition to secondary level II takes place with the school types gymnasium (11th – 12th / 13th school year), vocational school, vocational school, technical college and technical school, in some countries also vocational grammar school / technical high school, vocational college, vocational college and Professional academy. Vocational training takes place in the dual system (part-time teaching at vocational schools during the two to three-year initial vocational training in companies).

The tertiary sector consists of 424 universities, 107 of which are universities (WS 2019/2020). The majority of universities, colleges, technical colleges and vocational academies are state sponsored, otherwise church or private sponsorship. All university courses with equivalent qualifications (diploma, state examination or Bachelor and Master) are regulated by framework regulations, which include: the standard period of study, the number of teaching hours in the compulsory and elective subjects, the number of certificates of achievement required for admission to the examinations and details of the examinations.

The oldest universities or the universities with the oldest historical roots are Erfurt (first papal privilege from 1379, start of teaching in 1392), Heidelberg (1385 papal approval, start of teaching in 1386), Cologne (1388), Würzburg (first founded in 1402, re-founded in 1582), Leipzig (1409) and Rostock (1419). Some universities are run as universities of excellence (excellence initiative). In 2005 the Federal Constitutional Court lifted the ban on tuition fees for first degree courses. By the summer of 2014, however, they were abolished in all federal states.

The adult education and training has become an independent field of education, including vocational, education and social development. Distance learning / distance learning, adult education centers, evening schools, colleges, technical schools and other institutions of various sponsorships are aimed at lifelong learning. – The number of functionally illiterate people is estimated at around 7.5 million.

Germany Law and Education