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Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband

Adult Education Centres in Germany

Germany's largest continuing education provider

The approximately 900 adult education centres in Germany offer around 700,000 events a year, mainly courses, but also lectures, study trips and excursions. With around nine million participants, adult education centres are by far the largest provider of general adult education in Germany.

Number of Adult Education Centres in Germany

Characteristics of adult education centres

Adult education centres are supported by local self-government and democratically legitimised. In addition to this public educational mandate, they also support their local municipalities by providing cross-institutional advice on continuing education and by implementing labour market and social policy measures.

Around 900 adult education centres with almost 3,000 branch offices form a nationwide unique network of local continuing education and cultural institutions. In rural regions, the adult education centres are often the only training providers available.

  • Adult education centres and legal entities 2017 (as a percentage)
  • Municipality
  • District
  • Special-purpose vehicle
  • GmbH or other private institution
  • Volkshochschule in the city-state
  • Registered association

Always close by

The adult education centres form a nationwide unique network of continuing education and cultural institutions close to home – with a total of almost 4000 contact points.

In rural regions, the adult education centres are often the only training providers available.

Lifelong learning for all

The adult education centres organise and support the process of lifelong learning with their offers. They stand for the right to education, for equal opportunities and a comprehensive understanding of education.

Adult education centres are open to all people regardless of age, gender or origin, social status or educational level, religion or worldview. They are open to people with and without disabilities. They invite people with different and conflicting views to engage in dialogue.

Learning locations in the city district and barrier-free spaces make the offerings of adult education centres easily accessible for their target groups. The adult education centres also fulfil their public mandate by setting social prices. They work economically, but not profit-based. The attendance figures impressively prove the success of this concept.

Financing structure of adult education centres

Adult education centres must earn more than one third of their financial resources from enrolment fees (and this is on the rise). With stagnating or even falling public subsidies, economic pressure is growing on adult education centres, which are increasingly having to gear their programme design and address of participants according to economic aspects.

  1. Public subsidies
  2. Enrolment fees
  3. Other revenue

Programme areas

The public mission of adult education centres is to provide all citizens with a wide range of educational opportunities. It is geared to the individual interests and needs of the participants and to the needs of society. The programme is correspondingly multi-faceted.

The diversity of content is reflected in seven key programme areas:

  1. Languages and German as a second language
  2. Health courses
  3. Culture and creativity
  4. Politics, society and the environment
  5. Work and career
  6. Basic education
  7. School-leaving qualifications

More about the German Adult Education Association

Erläuterungen und Hinweise


  • Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband