The culture that is (was) Germany

There are still some students on university campuses who reminisce about the old days. One of those so-called “eternal students” can be found at Christian Albrecht University in the northern city of Kiel. He registered as a student in medicine when Konrad Adenauer was still chancellor and the Berlin Wall hadn’t even been planned yet. Even though he is in his 108th semester, the university does not have the power to throw him out. As one university spokesman explains, the rules for majors that require students to take a state examination, such as medicine, do not contain provisions for ejecting long-term students.

Yet those days are coming to an end, here is much more.


Hmm, I wonder if I know that guy. I might have seen him.

The thing I can't overemphasize is how disorganized everything all is right now. There's a crush of potential students hitting this year because of a series of policy shocks, and the system has completely changed because some Eurocrats liked the idea. It's not like student services were all that great before. 'Chaos' would be an understatement. It's hard to understand for an American since American institutions are very stable.

The complaining about rents is pretty funny though. 12 to 15 EUR per square meter? No tuition fees?

There's now law from the EU forcing Germany to replace the Dipolomsytsem with the BA-/MA-System. The Bologna declaration is not legally binding. The German government is as much if not more to blame than the EU.

I studied for a semester at the Humboldt while an undergrad and a year at the TU Dresden on an economics Fulbright. Both times I was awestruck at the lack of resources, the overcrowding, and the low degree of academic engagement. I use German universities with low out of pocket costs on the part of students as my best example of "you get what you pay for." in Berlin the students were always protesting small hikes in tuition fees that in total were less than my textbooks for a semester in the US. One guy put it pointedly..."we have to protest so we don't end up like the Americans.". I thought, class universities in Germany that would be a shame. What's odd is Germany has excellent secondary schools and chaotic post secondary schools. I still find that puzzling. The article did make me a little sad for the German students. I think big US universities often put too much emphasis on narrow job skills and not enough on skills for life long learning.

That's the big issue, as I see it. If I'm a top student who can get a top-tier education, then give me the USA and the Ivy League and Caltech and MIT and Stanford all the way. If I'm a middling student, I'll pay less under the German system and will leave with a good, solid education. If I'm looking for a trade, then Germany is really the ONLY way to go.

I was surprised at the the whinning tone of the article towards the end, where they complain that studens are "stressed" because they have to study so hard if they want to get a good job. I guess that the "I deserve an A because I tried" attitude among young kids is more universal than I though.

I was also surprise to some passing mentions that suggest that universities in Germany do not seem very well organized or are just very bureaucratic. Waking up at 5am to register a course and find the system down? Having to mail a single set of documents from university to university to apply (have they not heard of photocopies?) Interesting, to say the least.

I don't think most students would complain "I Deserve an A" if most employers these days didn't demand "We Expect an A".

German universities also don't have much presence in the community. I worked for two years on a campus that bordered the science campus of Humboldt University, and you could barely tell when school was in session.

A lot of good people come out of the German system, but the system kind of lends itself to producing sleepy backwaters. They could do with a charismatic CEO type who would kick people in the butt a little and make them get organized and active.

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