Review of Higher Education Institutions in Regional Development 2008-10: The City of Berlin in brief


The region under review:
boundaries, geography and population

The region participating in the OECD Review of Higher Education Institutions in Regional Development is the City of Berlin. Its boroughs (Bezirke) are spread on an area of 892 km2 with on average 3 818 inhabitants per km2. The city is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, which is less densely settled. Berlin and its closer surroundings, especially Potsdam, are closely linked.

Berlin has a population on 3.4 million, 4% of the German population. In 2007, Berlin had a positive net migration rate of nearly 12 000 people; while from 1996 to 2001, the inflow of new citizens was smaller than the outflow. Berlin is one of the German states with the highest share of immigrants (2007: 14%); integrating the immigrant population into society remains a challenge.



Germany is a federal state with three major levels of governance: federal, state and municipal. The legislative is divided into Bundestag (1st chamber) and Bundesrat (2nd chamber, state representatives). The competencies are divided between the three levels. Education in general is a state domain. The 16 states co-ordinate their higher education policies to some extent via the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK).

Berlin is a city and at the same time one of the 16 German states (Länder). Its mayor also serves as the prime minister of the state of Berlin. The Senate acts as a regional government and senators as state ministers. Public higher education institutions are the responsibility of the Berlin Senate of Education, Science and Research.



Small and medium-size companies are driving the regional economy. Traditionally, Berlin had a strong industrial core. Electrical engineering, food products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, mechanical engineering, and motor-vehicle manufacturing have survived the political and economic turmoil after WW 2. Construction and crafts also play a major role; they are usually organized in small businesses, trade, and services.

Berlin's economy does not compare favourably to other major German cities like Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich. The city has experienced substantial job cuts in the public sector since the re-unification, a breakdown of its industrial base and a high level of unemployment.

Co-operation between business and science activities focuses on transportation technology, biotechnology and medical technology. The Technology Foundation Berlin has identified priority areas for regional economic development in advanced knowledge industries:

  • Healthcare technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Transportation systems engineering
  • ICT/Media
  • Optics
  • Microsystems technology

Berlin has two major science and business parks in Adlershof and Berlin-Buch. The City of Science, Technology, and Media in Berlin-Adlershof is one of the 15 largest science and technology parks in the world. It hosts 750 SMEs and provides employment for about 12 500 people. In Buch, 50 Hi-Tech companies and hospitals employ another 4 500 people in the health care industry.


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