Investing in the future: The Twelve Billion Euro Package of the Federal Government
In this legislative period, the governing parties agreed to invest 12 billion euros more than previously planned in the key areas of education and research. Despite budget consolidation, the Federal Government is sending a clear signal for the sustainability of education and research in Germany. With this funding, the Federal Government is making a significant contribution to achieving the 3 per cent and the 10 per cent targets.
In the coalition agreement for the 17th legislative period, the governing parties agreed to invest 12 billion euros more than previously planned in the key areas of education and research between 2010 and 2013 - 6 billion euros in each of the two areas.
This promise is being kept despite the necessary budget consolidations: the additional 12 billion euros for education and research have been included in the budget of the Federal Ministries between 2010 and 2012 and in the Federal Government's financial planning for 2013. The BMBF plays a central role in these activities and is to receive around two thirds of the additional education funding (67 per cent) and just over half of the additional research funding (56 per cent). The remainder will be made available to other Ministries that have responsibilities in the areas of education and research in addition to their core fields of work.
On the right path to the 3 per cent and the 10 per cent targets
With this funding, the Federal Government is making a significant contribution to achieving the 3 per cent and the 10 per cent targets:
The 3 per cent target for research and development was originally formulated in the European Union's Lisbon Strategy. It was jointly agreed by the EU Member States at the beginning of the new millennium and confirmed last year as an objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It is the Federal Government's declared objective to invest three per cent of GDP in research and development by 2020 in cooperation with the Länder and the private sector.
In addition, the Federal Government and the Länder agreed on the 10 per cent target for education and research at the Education Summit in Dresden in autumn 2008. This target includes funding for education as well as spending on research and development.
Why is the Federal Government investing so much money in education and research?
Education and research contribute significantly to our national prosperity - a prosperity that is not only material, but also ecological, cultural and social. Education enables broader access to knowledge and opportunities.
The level of education has a significant impact on German prosperity. Internationally, countries with good PISA test results tend not only to have the fastest growth rates, but what's more, education is a significant factor in productivity. It creates the foundation for self-awareness and understanding. It enables insight and critical thinking. And it offers guidance - in short, education is a crucial precondition for what philosophy calls a "successful life." This is another reason that we need good education for all individuals in our country.
The goal of research is to gain new knowledge. Innovation translates this knowledge into new products, procedures and services. The countries that make above average investments in research and development have economies that experience faster and more sustainable growth - because the high technological capabilities of an economy are based on excellence in science and research. This is why we need a strong research system.
Public and private investments in research and development (R&D) have increased significantly in recent years: since the mid 1990s, R&D expenditure as a percentage of Germany's GDP (known as R&D intensity) has improved dramatically to the current 2.8 per cent (in 2010). Today, Germany is a world leader in the export of research and development intensive products. The number of R&D jobs increased by 15 per cent - 550,000 jobs - between 2005 and 2010. These jobs also bring prosperity and employment to other fields.
In the 17th legislative period, the Federal Government consciously placed special priority on a capable education and research system and, despite the necessary budget consolidation, has increased investments in this area annually.
What will the additional funds for education and research be used for?
The additional €12 billion euros will be used by different Federal Ministries for a wide range of activities in the areas of education and research between 2010 and 2013. Some current priorities at the BMBF include:
Culture is Strength. Education Alliances
To ensure that disadvantaged children and young people are well equipped for their educational careers, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will support out-of-school "Education Alliances" across Germany starting in 2013. These education alliances bring together various social actors (for example, choirs, music groups, sports clubs, foundations, libraries, theatre and youth groups) in a single location, in order to support disadvantaged young people through out-of-schools programmes - particularly in the area of culture.
Experience shows that out-of-school programmes make a particularly valuable and lasting contribution to young people's education and personality development. Being actively involved in groups and associations, summer camps, or exchanges with voluntary mentors enables children and young people to realize how perseverance and team spirit help to reach goals, and how one's horizon is broadened by facing up to challenges and assuming responsibility. Out-of-school education programmes can provide young people with prospects, strengthen their self-confidence, convey appreciation, and encourage them to take charge of their own lives. The BMBF will be making a total of 250 million euros available to the education alliances over the next five years.
Skilled staff: Training the next generation
There is already a skills shortage in the private sector. Numerous studies predict that demographic developments will exacerbate this situation over the next two decades. In particular, there will be a shortage of highly-skilled workers and university graduates. To address this challenge, we plan to invest in both vocational training and academic education with a view to pursuing the following measures:
- Vocational training
To further guarantee the success of vocation training, we are once again increasing investments to strengthen vocational education in 2013. Young people will continue to receive special support with the transition between school and training through early career guidance and mentorships. These efforts aim to remove entry barriers in training and employment - such as those that exist for students with low grades or migration backgrounds. In addition, the successful Meister-BAföG (financial assistance for master craftsmen trainees) will continue.
- Higher education
The federal funding designated for increasing the number of study opportunities as part of the Higher Education Pact 2020 will be significantly increased in 2013: from around 700 million to a total of 1.85 billion euros. In addition, almost 250 million euros will go towards improving the quality of instruction and increasing student mobility (Quality Pact, further development of the Bologna Process).
Financial considerations should not stop anyone from pursuing a degree, which is why 1.8 billion euros in funding will go towards improving student financing (BAföG, scholarship for the highly talented, the Deutschlandstipendium, and education credits).
The measures taken over the last few years have already borne fruit: in 2011, more students were accepted at German universities than ever before. The percentage of people entering higher education increased to around 50 per cent.
Research: Preparing Germany for the future
Guiding knowledge and innovation depend on an academic system which pushes the boundaries of knowledge through basic research, enables new technologies and applications, and offers new insights and talent. To continue the ability to meet these requirements at an internationally competitive level, the BMBF is advancing major pacts with the Länder and Germany's High-Tech Strategy:
- Pact for Research and Innovation
We are strengthening the German science system through the Pact for Research and Innovation. After all, our leading position in science depends on the quality of our research and innovation system. The German research organizations (the Fraunhofer Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz Association and the German Research Association) will receive 5 per cent more funding each year between 2011 and 2015. This increase provides the facilities with the security to plan and enables them to continue important strategic measures.
- Excellence Initiative
The Excellence Initiative is to sustainably strengthen German science and research, improve our ability to compete internationally, and increase the visibility of top performers at universities and research facilities. Funding totalling 2.7 billion euros will be made available for the second phase of the Initiative between 2011 and 2017 - around 2 billion euros of this total (75%) is provided by the Federal Government.
- High-Tech Strategy 2020
With the High-Tech Strategy, the Federal Government is orienting is innovation policy towards important social challenges; it strengthens cooperation between science and industry and improves the basic conditions for innovation. We want to make Germany the leading provider of science- and technology-based solutions in the areas of climate/energy, health/nutrition, mobility, security, and communication. By focusing on these areas, the High-Tech Strategy is also creating growth and employment in Germany. Forward-looking projects focus on selected tasks as a basis for future research and innovation policy. These projects pursue specific objectives related to scientific and technological development over a period of ten to fifteen years. Strategies for innovation are being developed and steps towards their realization planned in concrete cases.
Access to quality education is one of the key factors for Germany's position in global competition, for the prosperity of our citizens, and social cohesion. Reducing educational deprivation is therefore one of the major challenges of our time. In Germany, almost four million children under the age of 18 - more than 25 per cent of this age group - are growing up with at least one social, financial, or cultural risk factor which diminishes their opportunities to receive a good education. To ensure that disadvantaged children and young people are well equipped for their educational careers, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will support out-of-school "Education Alliances" across Germany starting in 2013.
Three infomobiles, one mission: "Vocational Education and Training - Practically Unbeatable." The infotour 2012 traveled all over Germany from May until October 2012, offering information on the opportunities of initial and continued vocational education and training. The result: 91 stops, 37 cities, and around 54,000 visitors.
With the Higher Education Pact 2020, the Federal Government and the Länder are investing additional funds in the expansion of study opportunities, thereby providing a suitable solution to the increasing demand for higher education.
The Federal Government supports institutions of higher education adapt to meet today's challenges. These challenges include the internationalization of higher education, increased competition for funding, providing a good education for an ever growing number of new students, and opening higher education to people with diverse qualifications and skills.
Funding decisions for the third and final round of the Excellence Initiative have been made. In June 2012, the Grants Committee selected a total of 39 universities from 13 Länder: 45 graduate schools and 43 clusters of excellence made it through the science-based selection process, while the institutional strategies of the FU Berlin, HU Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Köln, LMU München, TU München, Konstanz, Heidelberg, RWTH Aachen, and Tübingen won over the Committee in the third funding line.
The Pact for Research and Innovation is designed to give financial planning security to institutions that are jointly funded by the Federal Government and the Länder (Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association, Max Planck Society and Leibniz Association) as well as the German Research Association (as a research funding organization). Their funding is to increase by five per cent every year between 2011 and 2015. In return, they commit to research policy goals. The security to plan allows them room to maneuver and develop, as well as to further these goals.
topic Hightech Strategy
The High-Tech Strategy, which was launched in August 2006, was the first national concept to rally the key stakeholders involved in innovation around a common idea. On 14 July 2010, the Federal Cabinet decided to continue along this successful path. The new High-Tech Strategy 2020 will ensure the continuity of the overall approach and, at the same time, set new priorities.