Since 2001, the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat, WR) has been carrying out the institutional accreditation of non-state higher education institutions on behalf of the states (Länder). This is a quality assurance procedure that is intended to clarify whether a non-state higher education institution is capable of providing services in research and teaching that meet recognised scientific standards.
It also examines the resources (both material and human) and financing of a higher education institution. Since 2010, the WR has also produced reports on the proposal review for non-state higher education institutions in the start-up phase seeking state recognition as a higher education institution. With its work, the WR contributes to creating transparency and comparability in existing educational programmes.
The criteria in detail:
For information on the procedure of institutional (re-)accreditations and proposal reviews, the WR offers guidelines (Guide to Accreditation; Guide to Concept Review), into which it regularly incorporates practical experience. Among other things, these guidelines contain detailed explanations of the mandate, objectives, framework conditions, procedures as well as the period of validity of (re)accreditations:
Since the WR first started addressing the non-state higher education sector, its role and importance have changed significantly. The share of private higher education institutions increased fivefold between 1992 and 2010. By now (as of summer semester 2020), there are 111 private and 39 church-run higher education institutions in Germany |1, which accounts for 38.5 percent (private higher education institutions alone, 28.5 percent) of all higher education institutions. The number of students at private higher education institutions has almost doubled over the past five years (winter semester 2018/19 246,739 students |2) and their share of the total number of students is now approximately 8.6 percent.
In overarching Position Statements, the WR has given a summary of its activities in this field, classifying and appreciating the private higher education sector from a functional point of view:
According to this, private higher education institutions, due to their often clear and distinctive profiling, drive the desired differentiation of the higher education system and can promote institutional innovations. They often take on a pioneering role by, for example, establishing non-academic occupational fields in the higher education sector (e.g. in the health professions) or offering more flexible study formats (dual and part-time study as well as distance learning). However, they can only perform these tasks if they meet certain quality standards.
|1 Source: German Rector´s Conference
|2 Source: Federal Statistical Office