The president of Germany's Rectors' Conference, Hans-Uwe Erichsen, has blamed state and federal governments for the country's loss of its international lead in qualifications and research.
Addressing his organisation's annual conference in Brunswick, Professor Erichsen called on governments to start a "joint initiative to secure the future" as a "new, and last opportunity to straighten out financial priorities at state and federal level".
He told the conference, held at Brunswick Technical University to mark the institution's 250th birthday: "We have lost our leading position because other countries have improved. This is because the expansion of education systems that governments and society have been pressing for, in countries like Australia, Israel or Sweden, has been accompanied by a proportional growth in funds for higher education."
In recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistics, Germany, with its share of just 8 per cent of all public expenditure on the education sector, is bottom of the list.
Professor Erichsen proposes making use of savings the Federal government has made through a greater than expected tax income from the new eastern states of the Federal Republic - lessening the need for Federal fiscal adjustments. This money, totalling 14 billion marks (Pounds 6.4 billion) a year, could be invested in securing and enhancing the quality and efficiency of Germany's higher education system.