By Richard Vedder
Usually I complain a lot about Germany. They have screwed up their economy with a vastly excessive welfare state, for example. They have excessive taxes. They don't work hard enough.
But the Germans sometimes do something right, as I was reminded yesterday. While sitting on a cruise ship, I talked to a new friend, Chris, a German now working for an equity firm in Beijing. I asked this sharp young man where he went to college. In effect, he told me he did not attend a formal college, but underwent 4.5 years of rigorous training at a bank-run school (Deutsche Bank, I think). He earned the equivalent of a bachelors and masters degree, going to school in summer. The school now actually gives degrees.
A month or two ago, I wrote a blog commenting on a reader's prediction that in another generation, companies will run universities. That is starting to happen, particularly in Europe. Germany has had a long history with high quality vocational ed schools at the high school level, and now they are extending the concept to higher education. For those wanting a largely vocationally-enhancing post-secondary education, this is an appealing option. My friend Chris then went to work at the bank for some time, although finally left for a competitor. Offering low cost, high quality education in return for a few years of work for the company running the school seems to me an attractive option. Perhaps Citigroup, Bank of America and J.P Morgan Chase should be emulating the Germans.