1. Terminology

2. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision 

2.2 Non-state education provision 

2.3 Other types of schools 

3. Governance and regulations

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

3.2 Multi-level regulations 

3.3 Supplementary private tutoring 


  1. Terminology

The Basic Law (Grundgesetz) (1949, last amended in 2020) governs the education system at the federal level. Article 7 (4) stipulates the right to establish a private school, specifying, however, that “private schools that serve as alternatives to state schools shall require the approval of the state and shall be subject to the laws of the Länder (federal states).”

  1. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision

Public schools

In the Federal Republic of Germany most schools in primary education (beginning at age 6 from grades 1 to 4, in Berlin and Brandenburg grades 1 to 6) are public schools. All children are obliged to attend primary school. Secondary education is characterized by division into various educational paths. Once pupils have completed compulsory schooling they move into upper secondary education. The type of school pupils enter depends on the qualifications and entitlements obtained at the end of lower secondary education. General compulsory schooling begins for all children in the year in which they reach the age of six and involves nine or ten years of full-time schooling.

Non-state managed, state schools

No information was found. 

Non-state funded, state schools

This modality does not exist in Germany.

2.2 Non-state education provision

Independent, non-state schools

Private schools are those that are established and managed by non-state actors. The proportion of private students varies greatly across the Länder which have different laws. Yet, at primary education level, private schools are the exception. They can only be established on very strict conditions (Art. 7 (5) of the Basic Law), i.e. when they serve a special pedagogical interest or, at the request of parents and legal guardians, if they are to be established as Gemeinschaftsschulen (non-denominational schools), denominational schools, or as a school pursuing a certain ideology. A public primary school of this type does not exist in a municipality. In almost all cases, they are either denominational primary schools, Freie Waldorfschulen (Rudolf Steiner schools), reformist schools, and schools with a bilingual and international profile or primary schools with an integrated boarding facility. As for the Waldorf schools, these schools can set their own curricula based on their educational philosophy and project.

For secondary education, the law defines two forms of private schools: alternative schools (Ersatzschule) and supplementary schools (Ergänzungsschule). The former schools are an alternative to public schools. They can issue certificates as long as they have been approved by the state in which case they can hold school-leaving examinationsSubstitute /Alternative schools can obtain state recognition if they are not inferior to public schools in terms of their objectives, staff, and facilities (see also Privatschulen in Deutschland – Fakten und Hintergründe 2020). Recognition requires several years of problem-free and successful operation and teaching and is based on a comprehensive assessment. After having obtained state approval/recognition, the alternative school must adhere to the state regulations applicable to public schools, e.g. with regard to admissions and examinations. In particular, they should not encourage segregation according to parental resources. Supplementary schools are private schools that offer an education that does not exist in the public school system. The Ministries of Education in the Länder can prohibit the operation of a supplementary school in order to protect students and the general public from danger or harm. These schools may not use a designation that could cause confusion with alternative/substitute schools.

Private schools include church or free-church, Jewish, Islamic, or independent institutions with a Waldorf or other reform pedagogical orientation. According to the 2020 Education in Germany report, the number of privately owned institutions has risen steadily, especially in eastern Germany. In 2018, the share of students attending non-state educational institutions was 8.3% of of the student body  in Germany at 509 general education schools - 8.9% in western Germany and 10.3% in eastern Germany.

State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools

Federal states (Ländersubsidise private schools. Each state establishes specific regulations and requirements for non-public educational institutions to apply for public financial support. Financial support might be used for teachers' salaries, material expenses, infrastructure or other operational expenses according to the Land’s regulations. Funded non-public schools are supervised by the competent educational authority and may be required to provide the information and evidence necessary to qualify for the grant and to meet additional requirements, e.g. that they are organized as a non-profit institution and do not charge fees. (Privatschulen in Deutschland – Fakten und Hintergründe 2020,) A huge number of Ersatzschulen (alternative schools) are maintained by the Catholic or Protestant churches, which fund their schools from their own means so that sometimes little or no fees must be charged. The share of public funding in the overall financing of privately-maintained schools varies from state to state and also depends on the type of school (there are also numerous special provisions, for example for approved privately-maintained schools in contrast to recognised privately-maintained schools, for boarding schools and for church-run alternative schools).

Contracted, non-state schools

No information was found.

2.3 Other types of schools


All children of school age residing in Germany have by law to attend a duly-recognized school. In exceptional cases, children can be taught at home by a qualified teacher recognized under the German system. In 2020, for instance, a parent lobbying organization launched a petition to legalize homeschooling.

Market contracted (Voucher schools)

No information was found on the existence of voucher schools in Germany.

  1. Governance and regulations

The Federal Republic of Germany is made up of 16 federal states (Länder). According to the 1949 Basic Law(Grundgesetz), the exercise of governmental powers and discharge of governmental functions are divided between the federal government and the federal state. Each federal state has authority over the organization, planning, management and supervision of the entire school system within their state. They also grant authorization and recognition to non-state educational institutions. The main legal provisions for the establishment of privately-maintained schools are the relevant provisions in the Education Acts and the special laws on privately-maintained schools, as well as financial aid regulations in the form of laws and regulations of the Länder. Standard framework conditions in the Länder are guaranteed by an Agreement on Private Schools (Vereinbarung über das Privatschulwesen) of August 1951 drawn up by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz – KMK). Alternative schools are subject to state supervision. School supervision extends to supervision of compliance with the approval and recognition requirements and other legal provisions applicable to private schools.

The different levels of the education are governed by different ministries. Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) sector is governed by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), and corresponding federal state ministries. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) steers national policy for vocational education and training (VET) and some aspects of tertiary education.

The Vocational Training Act (BBiG, 1969, amended in 2005 and 2020) regulates in-company vocational training (dual system), vocational training preparation, further training and vocational retraining (§ 1 Para. 1). The Act also determines the requirements for the vocational training relationship. Legislative competence falls within the competing competence of the federal and state governments. Moreover, the Act states the role of the different stakeholders involved in VET (federal and Länder level, social partners from employees and employers side). The dual apprenticeship system does not cover all sectors of secondary vocational education in Germany. For example, many social occupations like social assistant are part of the full-time vocational school system of the state (Fachschulen). Most of the occupations of the health sector also have their legal base outside the Vocational Training Act. The amendment of the vocational training act in 2005 introduced an option for the state to declare full-time school vocational training programmes as equivalent to existing training occupations. Criteria are e.g. the correspondence in scope and content and sufficient practical work experience. Graduates of those programmes are then entitled to register for the final exams in the according training occupation at the competent body. Continuing vocational education and training (CVET) is provided by vocational school centers (Berufsbildende Schulen), chamber training providers and private training organisations.

The Higher Education Acts of the federal states are the legal basis for higher education in Germany. These regulations generally apply to public and private HEIs.

Vision: Each federal state has regulations on non-public providers at each education level; therefore, regulatory frameworks across the federal states. With a view to coordinating cooperation in the areas of education and training, higher education and research, as well as cultural matters, the federal state established the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Ständige Konferenz der Kultusminister der Länder) in 1948, which has served as a forum for cooperation ever since.

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

Since 2013, in Germany, all children aged 1 and over have a legal right to education, early learning and care at a day nursery/preschool or with a childminder. Germany's federal states have invested heavily in the expansion of childcare for infants and school children. In Germany, most Early Childhood Education and Development (ECCD) is provided by non-state actors mostly working on a non-profit basis (96%), i.e. Freie Träger der Jugendhilfe. Responsibility is decentralized to individual federal states, with each Land having its own legislation and administration. Private, for-profit providers are not eligible for public subsidies and not subject to restrictions on fees. Early Childhood Education and Development (ECCD) facilities are established and managed by various actors, including churches, welfare organizations, parents’ cooperatives, non-denominational organizations, or companies running services for their employees. Only a small share operates on a for-profit basis by private companies; different types of for-profit providers have been defined: quasi-public services, single services and chains. The regional distribution of the different types of providers does, however, vary across Germany.


Registration and approval: According to the 1990 Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare (amended in 2021), proprietors must apply for authorization at the competent authority in each state and comply with the legal and professional requirements for the operation of the institution to establish and operate a day care center facility. According to the Social Code Child and Youth Assistance institutions must provide information on the name and address of the institution, type and location of the institution, the number of places available, and the names and vocational training of the head and caregivers. ECEC centers must comply with space requirements, child-staff ratio, staff qualification, and standards relating to equipment, hygiene and safety.

Licence: On the basis of the 1990 Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare, permits are issued for five years if the minimum requirements for obtaining an operating permit are met; after that, proproietors can apply for a renewal.

Financial operation

Profit-making: The structure of services provided by Early Childhood Education and Development (ECCD) is strictly regulated. Some federal states allow for facilities to be organized as non-profit or profit organizations, while others do not allow for-profit institutions. Although currently for-profit organizations are allowed in some federal states, they were not permitted for a long time. Non-profit providers cannot receive subsidies.

Taxes and subsidies: Non-state institutions are eligible to receive subsidies for expansion of day-care facilities and for the appropriate personnel and material expenses for the day-to-day operation if they operate on a non-profit basis. The Childcare Funding Act (2008) provides financial support to the federal states to expand ECEC provision to support the ECCD growth through investment programmes. From 1 August 2019, the Act on the Further Development of the Quality and Participation in Child Day Care exempts not only families receiving transfer payments, but also families with a low income from childcare contributions, for example if they receive a child supplement or housing benefit. The federal states can also use these funds for additional measures to relieve families of the fees. Maintaining bodies for child and youth welfare services from the private sector receive financial support from the state as well as from the local authorities (Kommunen) to run day-care centres for children (e.g. for operating costs and investments).

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: The federal states develop their own curricula based on the national 2004 Common Framework of the Länder for early education in the early childhood sector which specifies the basic notion and principles of the educational work in a day care center. It is the responsibility of each day care center to organize and develop their own educational plan. However, they are free to design their pedagogical concept.

Teaching profession: Pedagogic staff in the German early childhood sector do not have the training and status of teachers. The pedagogic staff in the early childhood sector consists mainly of Erzieherinnen/Erzieher (state-recognised youth or child-care workers). According to the Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare caregivers and staff working at ECCD centers should have personality, expertise, and willingness to cooperate with parents and legal guardians as well as with other day-care staff. The teaching staff have to have a minimum level of training and pedagogical expertise. Centers must notify the competent authority of any changes or new staff recruitments and provide their professional qualifications. According to the Education in Germany 2020 report, some federal states have included additional qualifications and training for ECCD workers.

Equitable access

Fee-setting:  The regulation of fees and contributions varies across the federal states, with some allowing for parental contributions to public and non-state facilities. According to the 2019 Act on the Further Development of Quality and the Improvement of Participation in Day Care Facilities and in Child Day Care (Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Qualität und zur Teilhabe in der Kindertagesbetreuung), the so-called Good Daycare Facilities Act (Gute-KiTa-Gesetz), parental contributions are socially staggered nationwide and all child allowance and housing benefit recipients throughout Germany will be exempt from fees. ECCD centers working for profit have the right to set their own fees.

Admission selection and processes: No information was found at the federal level. The admission criteria are set by the providers but municipalities are in charge of regulating the details of admission.

Policies for vulnerable groups: The federal government has enacted several initiatives to ensure that every family can afford childcare. The Good Daycare Facilities Act (Gute-KiTa-Gesetz) wants to improve the quality of the child day care in Germany. Parental contributions to ECEC are staggered and recipients of certain social supports are exempt. Each federal state may decide how to use federal funds as they see fit; many have decided to use part of the money to reduce or even abolish parental contributions (OECD 2020).

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Reporting requirements: According to the Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare, "any institution shall follow the principles of proper accounting and file management, draw up records of the facility's operation and its results, and ensure that the facility-related records be kept for at least five years.

Inspection: The Education System in the Federal Republic of Germany 2017/2018 sets that daycare centers for children established by local authorities or non-public bodies are subject to public supervision by the responsible bodies for the public child and youth welfare services in the federal state. According to the Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare, the competent authority shall verify whether the conditions for granting the permit continue to be met.

Child assessment: Direct assessments, narrative assessments, and/or observational tools are commonly used to monitor child learning and development.

Sanctions: According to the Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare, centers must notify the competent authority in the case of imminent closure of the facility. The Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare stipulates that if welfare of the child or young person in the day care centre is endangered and the caregiver is not willing or able to take remedial action, the permission must be withdrawn or revoked.


Registration and approval: At the federal level, the 1949 Basic Law (Grundgesetz) stipulates that the right to establish a private school must be guaranteed, but private schools require the state's approval and are subject to specific laws of each state. According to Article 7(4) of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) “approval shall be given when private schools are not inferior to the state schools in terms of their educational objectives and facilities and in the professional training of their teaching staff and if a segregation of pupils according to the means of their parents will not be encouraged. Approval shall be withheld if the economic and legal position of the teaching staff is not adequately assured.” Furthermore, at the primary education level, a private school can only be established on very strict conditions (Art. 7 (5) of the Basic Law), i.e. when they serve a special pedagogical interest or, at the request of parents and legal guardians, if they are to be established as Gemeinschaftsschulen (non-denominational schools), denominational schools or as a school pursuing a certain ideology. Standard framework conditions in the Länder are guaranteed by an Agreement on Private Schools (Vereinbarung über das Privatschulwesen) of August 1951 drawn up by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz – KMK).

Two types of privately-maintained schools are to be differentiated:

Alternative schools (Ersatzschulen) require state approval with regulations that can differ across types and across states. An alternative school (Ersatzschulen) needs to be granted state-approval which is subject to (1) the equivalence of education aims; 2) the equivalence of teacher training; 3) equivalence of facilities; 4) teachers’ economic and legal security and 5) no segregation of pupils according to means. The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ordinance for Private Schools (2010; last amended in 2021), for example, [SR1] further specifies that an application for the establishment of an alternative school must contain: (1) information about the proprietor (natural person, association or legal entity), (2) the indication of the place where the school is to be built, (3) the indication of whether the operation of a boarding school would be linked to the school, (4) the time of the intended start of teaching, (5) the designation of the head teacher and the teachers, stating their first and last name, date of birth and place of birth, (6) information about possession or ownership, location and previous use of the school building and its renovation and restoration efforts as well as the number, type and size of the classrooms, (7) information about the subject areas of the lessons, learning goals, organization of the training and the school, (8) information on school fees, school fee reductions, free learning materials and other costs incurred by the pupils in connection with school attendance, including appropriate budget planning that provides a complete overview of all available income and expected expenditure, including their planned, actual and forecast values, (9) information on the participation of students and parents or legal guardians, and (10) information on the special profile of the school, in particular on educational issues and the planned capacity (class formation). In the case of vocational schools, additional information on the desired training courses, subject areas and focal points as well as the desired vocational qualifications are necessary.

In the case of complementary schools (Ergänzungsschulen), the school supervisory authority must be notified of a school opening three months before classes begin. The notification must be accompanied by the curriculum and evidence of the school authority, the school facilities and the previous training of the head and teachers. In Bremen, the notification must contain precise information about the type of school, the structure of the lessons and the school objective (Art. 14 Part 3 of the Bremen Law on Private Education and Private Instruction, 1956, last amended in 2020). The notification procedure can be handled by a uniform body in accordance with Sections 71a to 71e of the Bremen Administrative Procedures Act.  The operating permit may only be granted if the physical or moral well-being of the pupils is not impaired or endangered and education and training are adequately guaranteed. Further specifications are made for international schools in each state. Recognition of complementary schools is required in specific case (see infra diplomas and degrees).

Licence: State approval for alternative schools is given by the competent education authority of the respective state. The permit expires if classes at the school do not start at the beginning of the school year following the year in which the permit was issued, or if the school does not operate for a year without a specific consent to do so, or if it is closed. Complementary schools only have to inform school authorities about their planned opening, but do not require approval.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): To establish a private school in Germany, providers must comply with general requirements including fulfilling safety regulations, hygiene and health protection requirements.

Financial operation

Profit-making: In some federal states, a public school can only receive state subsidies if it is non-profit and does not charge tuition or other fees. 

Taxes and subsidies: The maintaining bodies of private schools receive some financial support from the federal states in various forms. The reference value is the situation pertaining to costs at public schools. All federal states guarantee uniform financial support to eligible schools, which also includes contributions to the standard staff and material costs. The federal state is either grant a lump-sum contribution, calculated on the basis of specific statistical data and varying according to school types, or the individual school may have to set out its financial requirements and receive a percentage share in subsidies. Other forms of financial support include contributions to construction costs, the provision of free teaching materials for pupils, to teachers’ pension, and the granting of sabbatical leave to permanent teachers with civil servant status with continued payment of salaries. Parents and guardians may have school fees and transport costs reimbursed. The funds are mostly provided by the federal state, but a small proportion is provided by the local authorities. Federal states can implement different financial aid schemes such as in Baden-Württemberg where non-profit private secondary schools recognized as pedagogically valuable may receive subsidies in the form of remuneration for teaching and learning materials. In Rhineland-Palatinate, private schools only receive state subsidies if they do not charge school fees and operate on a non-profit basis. In Saxony, subsidy is granted for each student as an annual lump sum (on a per student basis) and financial aid applies also to non-profit state-recognized international schools. In Bremen, approved alternative schools that operate on a non-profit basis and do not seek gain in the economy receive a subsidy from the educational authority. The schools are granted financial subsidies based on the per-pupil finance formula. In addition, the 2019 Bremen Private School Act (last amended in 2020), provides that the basic amount of financial support may be increased if the individual alternative school contractually assumes the following special obligations: reliable training until the end of the program, the training of a number of students with a migrant background corresponding to a comparable public school, the obligation to dismiss their pupils for disciplinary reasons exclusively in accordance with the legal provisions on regulatory measures applicable to public schools; and the obligation to provide sufficient support to pupils. Pupils with a migrant background are those with at least one parent born abroad.

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: Alternative schools must possess the equivalence of educational objectives and quality standards as public schools; however, private schools are free to decide on a particular curriculum, pedagogical, religious or ideological orientation, the determination of the lesson and teaching methods, as well as the teaching content and the organization of the lessons. State-approved alternative schools shall take into account the curricula existing for their type of school as guidelines, the principles of the examination and transfer regulations of the individual types of schools with the exception of alternative schools of special pedagogical character.

Textbooks and learning materials: Different teaching material and methods are possible if this does not affect equivalence with the corresponding public schools.

Teaching profession: Teachers of private educational institutions must have or prove to have similar professional and educational training as those required for teachers at the corresponding public school. In alternative schools, the economic and legal position of teachers is sufficiently ensured when (1) a written contract is concluded for the employment relationship, in which the regular number of compulsory hours, the entitlement to holiday and clear conditions of termination are specified, (2) the salaries and allowances do not fall significantly short of the salaries of teachers at comparable public schools and are paid at regular intervals and (3) an entitlement to pension is acquired for the teachers, which at least corresponds to the provisions of the statutory pension insurance. In some federal states the school supervisory authority can prohibit principals, teachers and employees or other school staff entrusted with educational or nursing tasks from carrying out their work if existing conditions suggest that they are not suitable for employment or may require a permit for the pedagogical director and teachers to carry out their activities. In the case of teachers who are qualified to teach in public schools, permission to carry out their duties is deemed to have been granted. According to the 2015 Saxon Law on Private Schools (last amended in 2021), public and private schools have equal rights in using state services for teacher training, in-service teacher training, school evaluation and support, including the work of school psychologists.

Corporal punishment: The Act to Prohibit Violence in the Upbringing of the Child states: “Children have the right to a nonviolent upbringing. Corporal punishment, psychological injuries and other humiliating measures are prohibited.” Some federal states clarify under their state education acts that physical punishment is prohibited.

Other safety measures and COVID-19: In 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal state agreed on a joint and coordinated action to keep schools open (for as long as possible) and to re-open schools based on state-specific guidelines taking into account the infection protection and hygiene measures.

Equitable access

Fee-setting: School fees may be charged but must be socially equitable. State-approved alternative schools therefore only charge moderate fees or guarantee relief to pupils whose parents are of limited financial means (e.g. reduction in school fees, reduction for additional siblings attending the same school). Monitoring and regulation of school fees varies from state to state. The schools are therefore obliged to stagger the school fees according to the income of the parents or to offer other benefits. For instance, according to information provided by the Berlin Senate in 2019, school fees for children from low-income families who receive learning materials for free can be reduced.

Admission selection and processes: Private schools recognized by the state must follow the admission and promotion regulation applicable to public schools. This does, however, not apply to alternative schools with a special pedagogical character. The school decides on the admission of pupils according to its own guidelines. In particular, it must also take into account the general principles of an inclusive school system.

Policies for vulnerable groups: The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (1949, last amended in 2020) prohibits private schools from "separating" pupils "according to their parents' means". The schools are therefore obliged to set fees according to the income of the parents or to offer other financial aids. The different federal states oversee the implementation of regulations. Regulations and initiatives are evident in all states. In Bavaria, in order to avoid separating pupils according to their parental resources, the private school authorities shall, if necessary, provide financial support. In Berlin, the Second Implementing Decree to the Law on Private Schools and Private Tuition (Private School Law) (1959) specifies that those of lesser means and those with two or more children who are in a special economic situation are exempt from school fees. The 2019 Bremen Private School Act (last amended in 2020), provides that the basic amount of financial support can be increased if the school contractually assumes certain obligations such as taking in a number of students with a migrant background equivalent to that in public schools.

With regard to vocational education and training, disadvantaged young people that did not obtain a placement in a regular apprenticeship have the opportunity to get a placement in extra-company training. Extra-company training is delivered by a training provider that acts as substitute for a regular training company. Those training providers usually cooperate with companies. Additionally, the apprentice visits the regular vocational part-time school. The objective is always to integrate the participants into regular in-company training. If that is not possible, they can complete the whole apprenticeship at the training provider.

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

School board: In order for a private school to be approved, the school management, its legal or statutory representatives, must have the necessary personal reliability and the principal of the school needs to be personally and professionally suitable to run the school responsibly.

Reporting requirements: Alternative schools must report any modification on the school operation to the competent education authority in each state. In Saxony, the Statistical Office provides the Ministry for Education with data from the publicly funded schools every year for the purpose of calculating a future student cost rate based on the ordinary expenses of the publicly funded schools (Saxon Law on Private Schools 2015, last amended in 2021). In Bremen, private education institutions are obliged to provide the supervisory authority with the information required to carry out their tasks on request and to submit the necessary documents in the form specified by the supervisory authority. The provider of an alternative school or a recognized complementary school is obliged to notify the competent authority without delay of any significant changes in the conditions relevant to the approval or recognition, such as the specified location and the specified rooms.

School inspection: Private schools are subject to the supervision and monitoring of the school supervisory authority. They also have to allow inspections of their premises and classrooms as well as class visits. Officials and representatives of the school supervisory authority are authorized to enter a school’s premises during general business hours and after prior notification in order to carry out their supervisory activities. They may also view and reproduce school-related documents and files of the school authority that are relevant for the approval requirements, the recognition requirements, and for state financial aid. (Saxon Law on Private Schools 2015, last amended in 2021) 

Student assessment: In most federal states, a degree in general education is obtained through an examination; however, in some federal states, it is not required.

Diplomas and degrees: State-recognised alternative schools are granted the right to issue certificates conferring the same entitlement as those of a public school. Complementary schools are not recognized.

Sanctions: The approval of a private school may be revoked if the conditions for approval are not met. The revocation shall take place if the school management has not rectified the situation within a period set by the school supervisory authority. In the case of complementary schools, the school supervisory authority may prohibit the operation of a supplementary school in order to protect students and the general public from danger or harm. In the case of voluntary closure, the Bavarian Law on Education and Training (BayEUG) (last amended in 2000) stipulates that the dissolution of a school is only permitted at the end of a school year; it must be notified to the school supervisory authority at least three months in advance.

The federal Framework Act for Higher Education (Hochschulrahmengesetz 1976, amended in 2019) and the Higher Education Acts of the federal states (Landeshochschulgesetze) stipulate the minimum requirements that have to be met for non-public institutions to be formally recognized as institutions of higher education. The federal states are solely responsible for awarding recognition to non-public institutions. Higher education institutions in Germany are divided into universities (including pedagogical and theological colleges), universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen und Hochschulen für angewandte Wissenschaften) and colleges of art and music. Non-state institutions of higher education include private institutions, international institutions, and church institutions. International institutions of higher education are generally not subject to the legal supervision of the federal states as they fall under the regulations of the European country they are based in. According to the 2020 Education in Germany report the number of non-state institutions has increased, in particular the number of privately run Fachhochschulen offering distance learning courses. In 2020, there were 111 private universities and 39 theological colleges, accounting for 38.5 percent of all institutions of higher education and 8.6% of the total number of students enrolled in higher education institutions (HEIs) in Germany.

Berufsakademien (professional academies) are regulated by state-specific provisions. Whilst the professional academy is publicly maintained in Sachsen, the Berufsakademie laws in Hessen, Niedersachsen, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein only provide for the existence of exclusively state-recognised professional academies, which require the approval of the relevant state ministry. The Hamburg Berufsakademie law facilitates the establishment of state as well as state-recognised institutions. In Baden-Württemberg and Thüringen, the state-run Berufsakademien have been converted into duale Hochschulen (dual institutions of higher education). Unlike the state institutions, the non-public professional academies in Germany are not financed by the federal states.


Registration and approval: In general, institutions have to be recognized by the respective federal state and accredited by the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat) in order to establish and operate a non-public institution of higher education. These must be organized as legal entities and meet a minimum set of requirements established by the federal Higher Education Framework Act (and the Higher Education Acts of the respective federal state). The requirements include provision on teaching staff and financial suitability. In addition, the institution must satisfy the demands, standards and performance of a comparable state institution. The accreditation by the German Science and Humanities Council serves as a German-wide quality assurance. Theological institutions might be granted flexibility. They can avail of certain exceptions.

Licence: The recognition of a private institution of higher education by one federal state ensures recognition throughout Germany.

Financial operation

Profit-making: Decisive for the business model of a non-state institution are the legal form of its operator and its income profile. Private operators might pursue non-profit or commercial purposes.

Taxes and subsidies: Funding of non-state higher education institutions differs across federal states. In some federal states, the Higher Education Act specifies that state-recognized universities are not entitled to state financial aid. Depending on the legal form of the operator non-state institutions might be exempted from certain taxation.

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: According to the Higher Education Framework Act and the Higher Education Acts of the federal states, degrees and training must be comparable to the one provided at state universities. All degrees issued by non-state higher education institutions must be accredited by the German Accreditation Council (Stiftung Akkreditierungsrat).

Teaching profession: According to the Higher Education Framework Act and the Higher Education Acts of the federal states, teaching staff at non-state institutions must have the same qualifications as teachers at state HEIs.

Equitable access

Fee-setting: In general, tuition fees are the main source of funding for non-state higher education institutions. However, the tuition fees differ.

Admission selection and processes: According to the Higher Education Framework Act and the Higher Education Acts of the federal states, entrance qualifications and admission requirements of state and non-state higher education institutions should not differ. Furthermore, the Higher Education Framework Act stipulates that higher education institutions promote the effective enforcement of equality between women and men and work towards eliminating existing disadvantages.

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Board: Every university must have an administrative body in charge of administering and governing the institution. The Higher Education Framework Act requires that the freedom of research and teaching is guaranteed; in particular, academic self-government must have a decisive influence.

Reporting requirements: Institutions are subject to the legal supervision of the respective state. The degree of supervision may vary. As the recognition of the state and the accreditation by the German Science and Humanities Council might be subject to conditions, non-state institutions can be subject to further reporting requirements.

Inspection: As the institutions are subject to the legal supervision of the respective state, the institutions are required to cooperate and coordinate with the respective authority.

Assessment: With state recognition, the university receives the right to hold university examinations.

Diplomas and degrees: Non-state higher education institutions that have been recognized can award state-recognised higher education degrees.

Sanctions: State recognition can be revoked, as it might be subject to conditions. The voluntary dissolution of a non-governmental university must be reported to the relevant education authority. During the dissolution, it must be ensured that students can complete their studies properly.

3.3 Supplementary private tutoring

Federal states are responsible for establishing the regulatory framework for independent teaching; however, no regulation currently exists and private tutoring is regulated by commercial law. During primary and secondary school, it is not unusual for children and youth to join private tutoring and homework assistance (Grabbe, 2018). The providers are profit-oriented nationwide tutoring companies or non-profit organizations. Among the non-profit organizations, small and regionally concentrated organizations and the Free Welfare Associations offer homework assistance for disadvantaged children (Grabbe, 2018). The Federal Association of Tutoring and Afternoon Schools (VNN), founded in 1998, is the only representative of the tutoring industry in Germany. Its members are present at more than 1,400 locations in Germany. They represent over 140,000 students and their parents and up to 14,000 teachers. To offer a guarantee of quality, the members undertake to meet the quality standards set by the association and to comply with the association's code of ethics. One of its goals is that the education of children and young people remains VAT-free and therefore affordable. The VNN is committed to the reputation of extracurricular learning support in politics and society. Tutoring complements the school system. The value of private tutoring and learning support was sort of acknowledged in the Education and Participation Package (Bildungs- und Teilhabe-Paket (BuT)), which was amended in 2021. The BuT was launched by the federal government in 2011 and passed by the Bundestag. Specifically, it is about securing social participation and equal opportunities in education for children and young people from low-income families. The BuT comprises six areas, one of which is learning support Pupils can receive learning support/tuition if the school confirms that the learning support is necessary.


Private tutoring is regulated by commercial law, no other legal framework exist. In some federal states, unless otherwise provided by law, teaching and educational institutions that are not private schools are only subject to notification to the school supervisory authority if they are operated commercially and the school supervisory authority may prohibit the provision of lessons at independent institutions and private lessons in order to avoid damage or dangers posed by the teachers.

Financial operation and quality

To obtain financial support within the framework of the BuT, the application shall be submitted to the responsible job center or social welfare office. The teachers must confirm the need for support in writing. Of course, parents can also contact a PTE in their area. There they can get support with the application and help if there are any problems. The federal government's Education and Participation Package (BuT) enables learning support for pupils whose essential learning goals are at risk. Tutors that are members of the VNN commit to specific quality standards and code of ethics.

Teaching profession

In some federal states, proof of sufficient technical training may be required for individual branches of teaching in some federal states. Members of the VNN are required to fulfil specific requirements. This includes both evidence of expertise in the subject they teach and their pedagogical and didactic skills. They also need to continue professional development. This can be both internal further training and training to become a certified tutor at TutorWatch or further training to become a coach or tutor at the learning server. The basic suitability of the tutors in the institutes is also regularly checked by the responsible school authorities/regional councils.





Early Childhood care and education

Primary and secondary Education

Tertiary education






Federal Laws

Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (, last amended in 2020)


Social Code on Child and Youth Welfare (1990)

Standard framework conditions in the Länder are guaranteed by an Agreement on Private Schools (Vereinbarung über das Privatschulwesen) of August 1951 drawn up by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz – KMK).

Higher Education Framework Act (1976, last amended in  2019)

The 2019 Good Daycare Facilities Act (Gute-KiTa-Gesetz)




Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBiG): Vocational Training Act (


Baden-Württemberg Law on the care and promotion of children in kindergartens, other day care facilities and daycare

Baden-Württemberg Law for private schools (Private Schools Act - PSchG) (1990 , last amended in 2021)

Law on Universities in Baden-Württemberg





Act on the promotion of children in daycare facilities and daycare

(Children's Day Promotion Act - KitaFöG)

The 2004 School Act for the State of Berlin (, last amended in 2021)

Berlin Second Implementing Decree to the Law on Private Schools and Private Tuition (Private School Law)(1959)

Law on Universities in the State of Berlin (Berlin Higher Education Act - BerlHG)

Bayern (Bavaria)

Bavarian Law On The Education, Upbringing And Care Of Children In Kindergartens, Other Daycare Centers And Day Care


Bavarian Law on Education and Training (BayEUG)  ( amended in 2000)

Bavarian university law


Second Act on the Implementation of the Eighth Book of the Social Code - Child and Youth Welfare - (Daycare Act - KitaG)

Law on Schools in the State of Brandenburg (Brandenburg School Act - BbgSchulG)

Brandenburg Higher Education Act (BbgHG)



Bremen Day Care and Day Care Act

Private School Law (2019, amended in 2020)

Bremen Higher Education Act


Hamburg Childcare Act

Hamburg School Act (1997, amended in 2021)

Hamburg Higher Education Act


Hessen Child and Youth Welfare Code

Henssen School Act (2017, amended in 2021)

Hessen Higher Education Act


Early Childhood Education Ordinance

The School Law for the State of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

The Mecklenburg-West Pomerania Ordinance for Private Schools (2010 , last amended in 2021)

Law on the Universities of the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony)

Lower Saxony Act on Daycare and Daycare

Lower Saxony Schools Act (NSchG) (1998 , amended in 2021)

Niedersachsen Higher Education Act

Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia)

Child Education Act

Ordinance Information on substitute schools (2007, amended in 2020)

School supervision of substitute schools (2007)

Nordrhein-WestfalenHhigher Education Law

Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate)


School Act Rhineland-Palatinate

Higher Education Law


Saarland Childcare and Education Act (SKBBG)

Act No. 751 on independent schools


Saarland Higher Education Act (SHSG)

Sachsen (Saxony)

Act on Daycare Centers

Saxon School Law (2018 , last amended in 2021)

Saxon Law on Private Schools (2015 , last amended in 2021)

Saxony Higher Education Freedom Act

Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt)

Act on the Promotion and Care of Children in Daycare facilities and day care of the state of Saxony-Anhalt


School Act of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (SchulG LSA)

Higher Education Act of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (HSG LSA)


Act on the promotion of children in daycare centers and daycare (Children's Day Support Act - KiTaG)


Schleswig-Holstein School Act

University Act Schleswig-Holstein

Thüringen (Thuringia)

Thuring Kindergarten Act - ThürKigaG


Thüringen School Act

Thüringen Higher Education Act


This profile has been reviewed by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and the Secreteriat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Last modified:

Sat, 08/07/2023 - 22:58