An unusual approach to higher education: Civilian students in Germany’s military universities

Germany has two military universities, one in Hamburg and one in Munich. Like most other developed nationals, the armed forces are declining in size (if not necessarily in capacity), so there are fewer service personnel to be educated in the universities.

I was interested to read recently that the slack is being taken up by civilians.  It turns out that the military universities are pretty attractive to what we might call “young mature students”. Because there is a fee for civilian students, most are being funded by their employer, and combine study with workplace experience.

What’s in it for these students and their employers? According to those interviewed in Suddeutsche Zeitung, the main advantage was a much shorter period to graduation, partly because the military universities don’t take the lengthy vacations found elsewhere. They also appreciate the personal relationship with their professors, which is in turn the result of high staff ratios. And finally, they mentioned the benefits of military discipline, in that fellow students didn’t spend their time messing about (or, as I think of it,being students).

it sounds like good news all round – especially for conventional universities, who come under less pressure to change as a result. And I think there may be disadvantages as well. But it is an interesting development.

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