Higher Education Sector in Germany – Accreditations and Quality Characteristics

In the German higher education sector, various accreditations and quality characteristics ensure the quality of study programs and higher education institutions. They guarantee that graduates have the appropriate competencies. This blog post gives you an overview.

group of HSB students

HSB student group

System Accreditation

System accreditation is a type of accreditation that evaluates a university's internal quality assurance systems. This process verifies that the university is capable of independently assuring the quality of its programs.

Program Accreditation

Program accreditation refers to the quality of individual bachelor's and master's degree programs. It verifies that a program meets certain quality standards. Accreditation is usually carried out by independent agencies accredited by the Accreditation Council.

Accreditation Council

The German Accreditation Council is a joint institution of the German federal states responsible for the accreditation of study programs and quality assurance in the German higher education system. The Council oversees the work of the accreditation agencies and ensures transparency and quality assurance in the accreditation process.

Accreditation Agencies

There are several independent agencies in Germany that are charged with carrying out accreditation procedures to assess the quality of educational offerings. They examine the quality of programs and ensure that they meet established standards. Each agency specializes in certain subject areas or programs.

Examples of accreditation agencies in the German higher education sector include:

  • AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business): AACSB is an American accrediting body of the non-profit organization AACSB International. It provides quality assurance, business education information, and learning and development services to more than 1,850 member organizations - including the International Graduate Center (IGC) - and more than 950 accredited business schools worldwide. AACSB's accreditation processes are ISO 9001:2015 certified.
  • ACQUIN (Accreditation, Certification and Quality Assurance Institute): ACQUIN is an agency involved in the accreditation of programs in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, business, natural sciences, and social sciences. The non-profit organization's approximately 150 members include higher education institutions, primarily in Europe, as well as science-related professional and trade associations.
  • AQAS (Agency for Quality Assurance through Accreditation of Study Programs): AQAS is a non-profit association founded by German universities and accredited in Germany and Europe to carry out external evaluation procedures for universities. Hochschule Bremen is one of its member institutions. The association carries out assessment procedures for program accreditation in all disciplines as well as for system accreditation.
  • ASIIN (Accreditation Agency for Study Programs in Engineering, Computer Science, Natural Sciences and Mathematics): ASIIN is an international non-profit association specializing in the accreditation of engineering, computer science, science, mathematics, medicine and business programs. It is also accredited in the field of system accreditation.
  • EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development): EFMD is a global, non-profit, membership-based foundation dedicated to management development. It is the recognized accrediting body for business schools, business school programs and corporate universities worldwide. Among its nearly 1,000 member institutions from 90 countries is IGC.

    Our International MBA program (Dual Degree) is EFMD accredited (learn more).
  • FIBAA (Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation): FIBAA is an international agency specializing in the accreditation of business and management programs, institutions, and continuing education courses.
  • ZEvA (Central Evaluation and Accreditation Agency Hanover): ZEvA is a German non-profit foundation that works to accredit higher education institutions, both public and private, and degree programs in a variety of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, engineering, and natural sciences.

Quality Assurance Systems

German universities have their own quality assurance systems to ensure the quality of their programs. These systems include internal evaluations, student feedback, cooperation with industry, and regular reviews.

Quality Assurance at IGC

IGC is committed to high quality standards. The quality of study, teaching and research is ensured by a structured quality management system that is uniformly implemented throughout Hochschule Bremen. For quality assurance and continuous improvement of study programs and facilities, IGC regularly conducts student surveys on lecturers, courses, services and study conditions and incorporates the results into the design of the study programs.

In addition, the programs are continuously developed in accordance with the MBA guidelines of the European Quality Link (EQUAL). Learn more about accreditation and quality assurance at IGC.

University Rankings

In addition to accreditation, university rankings play a role in assessing the quality of German universities. These rankings are based on various criteria such as research performance, reputation, international exchange, and graduate employment. They each offer different perspectives and evaluation criteria. However, it is important to note that no ranking can fully cover all aspects of a university. The relevance of a ranking may depend on individual preferences and subject areas.

Here are some of the most well-known and respected rankings that are relevant to the German higher education sector:

  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE): One of the world's most prestigious university rankings, published annually by Times Higher Education magazine. It evaluates universities worldwide based on a variety of criteria including research performance, teaching quality, international outlook and reputation.
  • QS World University Ranking: The QS World University Ranking is another well-known international ranking that evaluates over 1,000 universities worldwide. It takes into account eight different criteria, including academic reputation, employer ratings, citation indicators and international orientation, among others.
  • Shanghai Ranking (Academic Ranking of World Universities - ARWU): The Shanghai Ranking is best known for its assessment of the research performance of universities. It focuses on scientific publications, Nobel laureates and highly cited researchers. The ARWU evaluates more than 2,500 universities worldwide each year and publishes the top 1,000.
  • CHE University Ranking: With some 120,000 students surveyed over the past 25 years, the CHE University Ranking claims to be the most comprehensive and detailed comparison of universities in the German-speaking world. It examines more than 300 universities throughout Germany, with each subject being re-evaluated every three years. In addition to teaching, the ranking also takes into account criteria such as study situation, equipment, research and international orientation.

    Hochschule Bremen achieved above-average results in the categories "Study in a reasonable time" and "Contact with practice" (Mai 2023).
  • WirtschaftsWoche University Ranking: This ranking by WirtschaftsWoche evaluates German universities and universities of applied sciences according to their reputation in the business world. It is based on a survey of HR managers and companies.

Tip: Do not rely solely on accreditations and university rankings when deciding where to study, as they are only a snapshot in time. Be sure to include other factors in your decision, such as student testimonials, and pay special attention to the faculty offering the program of your choice.

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