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Germans Favour Compulsory Preschool and the Abolition of Fees – Results of the First Ifo Education Survey

Sep 15, 2014

Germans are in favour of compulsory preschool attendance (86 percent), the abolition of preschool fees (84 percent) and a whole-day school system with lessons until 3 p.m. (60 percent). The majority of Germans (51 percent) is opposed to childcare subsidies for stay-at-home parents. Moreover, Germans are in favour of a nationwide exit exam for the Abitur (A-level equivalent) and think that it is important that the country performs well in the PISA test. These are the results of the first Ifo Education Survey, a new, comprehensive and representative public opinion survey of over 4,000 Germans supported by the Leibniz Association.

A clear majority of Germans is opposed to the abolition of school grades and favours the idea that students who receive poor grades must repeat a school year. Commenting on the results Ludger Woessmann, Director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education and initiator of the Ifo Education Survey, said: “A clear focus on performance in schools is obviously important to most Germans.“ The majority of Germans is also in favour of increasing state expenditure on schools. Only a minority, however, support this idea if it requires tax increases.

A relative majority that opposes tuition fees for higher education also turns into a relative minority as soon as information is provided on the income differences between individuals with and without higher education. If tuition fees only have to be repaid once students have completed their studies and only if their annual income exceeds a certain level, then a clear majority of Germans is even in favour of them. According to Woessmann: “It seems to be important to Germans that tuition fees are only to be paid if and when the studies result in individuals earning a relatively high income. A clear majority would support such a reform model of downstream tuition fees.”

Majorities are also opposed to the reduction of the grammar school cycle to eight years, to wage increases for teachers and to appointing teachers as tenured civil servants, but in favour of performance-related bonuses for teachers who work in problem-schools, and in favour of the introduction of two-year vocational training courses. In the opinion of most Germans, employers and the government should spend more on adult training, but not employees. And nearly all Germans believe that a strong performance by students is important to the country’s future prosperity. “Overall, the Ifo Education Survey offers a multi-faceted picture of Germans’ opinion of education policy, which shows a clear willingness to support far-reaching reforms in some areas, but also reveals opposition to them in others,” notes Woessmann.

All of the results and diagrams are available at:


Prof. Dr. Ludger Wößmann

Ifo Institute
Ifo Center for the Economics of Education
Phone: +49(0)89/9224-1699
Fax: +49(0)89/907795-1699
Email: woessmann @

Philipp Lergetporer, Ph.D.

Ifo Institute
Ifo Center for the Economics of Education
Phone: +49(0)89/9224-1690
Fax: +49(0)89/9224-1460
Email: lergetporer @

Press contact

Harald Schultz

Ifo Institute
Press, Publications, Conferences
Phone: +49(0)89/9224-1218
Fax: +49(0)89/9224-1267
Email: schultz @

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