The German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat, WR) is characterised by its cross-sectoral approach, which focuses on the entire German research and higher education system with its essential structural features – from (state or privately funded) universities, non-university research institutions and university medical facilities to research by industry, research associations and even each overall university system specific to the various states (Länder).
The WR’s proposals for shaping science policy are based on the premise that successful work in science and research can only be possible if the necessary structural framework is in place. The central task of the WR is to elaborate on what this framework should look like, both for the system as a whole and for individual sectors and institutions – in terms of staff, institutions and funding – and what factors shape and influence it. In fulfilling this task, the WR relies on a combination of overarching structural recommendations with regard to systemic issues on the one hand and position statements (evaluations and accreditations) on the other. These two aspects interact fruitfully with each other and, when viewed together, provide comprehensive insights into the research and higher education system.
The WR has addressed the German research and higher education system from an overarching perspective on several occasions, most recently in 2021:
Impulses from the COVID-19 crisis for the further development of the science system in Germany (to the German version).
Press release and background information in English:
Its publication on perspectives on the German Research and Higher Education System (Perspektiven des deutschen Wissenschaftssystems) most clearly expounds on the problems of the political regulatory framework of cooperative federalism in science policy.
The most relevant statistical data on the number of students, examinations and staff, as well as on the funding of higher education institutions and non-university research institutions, can be found in a four-page summary in the WR´s publication on basic data on higher education and research institutions in Germany. This basic data also contains information on the number of higher education institutions by type of institution and funding body as well as on the number of higher education institutions with the right to award doctoral degrees.