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Social infrastructure: the education system and vocational training

School systems can vary greatly from state to state and country to country. Thanks to its variety and versatility, the Bavarian education system is geared towards offering every school pupil, apprentice and student individual opportunities to suit their talents and future aspirations.

How the Bavarian education system is structured


The introduction to Bavarian school education is relatively simple, as with the exception of special schools there is just one option when you start school: primary school. Students start their school career there at the age of six on average. Depending on the performance students have achieved during this four-year period, they then qualify for one of the secondary schools. These are the “Mittelschule”, “Realschule” and “Gymnasium” in Bavaria. Regardless of which path Bavarian students take for their school career, everyone has the opportunity to acquire a general university entrance qualification, Germany’s highest school qualification. While students at the “Gymnasium” achieve this goal directly by attending the school for eight years (return to nine years from the 2018/19 academic year), students at the “Mittelschule”, “Wirtschaftsschule” and “Realschule” have to apply to move to the “Fachoberschule” (FOS) once they have successfully completed Year 10. They can achieve qualifications there to enter universities of applied science and universities after Years 12 and 13 respectively. Anyone who wants to start off their working life with an apprenticeship first of all, can qualify to study at the “Berufsoberschule” (BOS) afterwards.

In 2016, 37,850 students in Bavaria passed their “Abitur” level 3 qualification with an average final grade of 2.30 and were therefore able to continue their education at a university or university of applied science. Bavarian “Gymnasium” students were also able to prove themselves in 2017: seven Bavarian “Gymnasium” schools were accepted into the national MINT-EC Excellence Schools network in October. This extends the Bavarian network to 52 schools now, which are supported by the organisation with MINT (mathematics, computer science, science and technology) courses to boost talent in business and science.

Practical apprenticeships in Bavaria


An apprenticeship is a superb alternative for students who don’t achieve the general university entrance qualification or quite simply don’t want to study. The dual training is a format that only exists in Germany so far but is very much in demand internationally due to its practical experience combined with the vocational college. Bavaria offers a number of apprenticeship options. The best filled apprenticeship programme in 2016 was in retail training, followed by office management and sales in third place. The state is placing particular emphasis on apprenticeships in the health sector, social services, the service industry and information technologies in order to strengthen promising industries and sectors. The demand for apprentices is particularly high among high-tech companies in Bavaria as companies don’t just recruit students here but talent with practical experience too.

A national comparison of the Bavarian education system


The Bavarian school system is considered to be one of the most demanding in Germany. According to various studies this pays off. For example, the national IQB (Institute for Educational Quality Improvement) report, a regional supplement to the PISA Programme for International Student Assessment, is a test to compare Year 9 students in the subjects German and English. According to this study, Bavaria is significantly above the German average in both subjects and holds all the top rankings in comparison with the other federal states. The gap between Bavaria and the worst performing federal state is sometimes up to 63 points, which is the equivalent of roughly one and a half academic years. This trend can already be identified in primary school students. 

Thanks to its versatile structure, the Bavarian school system with its many different types of schools allows students to choose the best one for them and therefore prepares them ideally to start work at companies in Bavaria. The demand for suitable professionals proves the success of the local education system.