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Germany Still Under OECD Average in College Grads

The latest OECD study is out, and shows that Germany still hasn't improved in the category of people completing post-secondary education. At 23.9%, its proportion of college grads is well under the OECD average, and even more ominously, the situation doesn't seem to have improved lately:

Tertiary Attainment

The study's setting off the usual alarm bells (g) in Germany. I speculated on the cause of Germany's low college-graduation rates a while ago, but I think one factor I forgot to mention is cost. It's not that some German universities have introduced tuition fees -- in international comparison, these tuition fees are negligible. The problem is rather that Germany has a woefully inadequate system for financing higher education. Germany does have a loan/grant scheme for students (called Bafoeg), but it's extremely complex and miserly (g). Not that I'm a big fan of student loans, but a well-regulated system of affordable student loans is much better than Germany's current system of measly scholarships, half-time university posts, and help from relatives.

Even if simple, affordable loans were available, the problem would remaind that lots of young Germans are reluctant to face what students in most other countries have long accepted: college costs money, and that means debt. I'm consistently surprised to meet Germans who could have gone to college but didn't, and instead decided to become hairdressers, chimney sweeps, butchers, or machinists. There are ads all over my university right now which advise university students who "don't like studying" to drop out of college and train to become air-traffic controllers.

The rationale behind people who choose these professions is that "we'll always need" people to do these jobs, so they offer steadier employment. I'm not so sure. In fact, something tells me that 15 years from now or so, we're going to need a whole lot fewer human air-traffic controllers than we do now...

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