The west German Länder published their requests for a revised federal order in a document issued on 5 July 1990 under the title of ‘Cornerstones of the Länder for federalism in a unified Germany’. This chapter proposes a new approach for the understanding of German federalism through policy analysis. It reveals the limitations of some of the conceptual frameworks employed to assess German federalism. The chapter offers a warning to those who see German federalism as a model for further European integration. Assessing the effect of federalism on a policy area is a difficult question: this study has made some methodological suggestions which go beyond the analysis of higher education and which could be of use for investigations of federalism and its effect on policy making in other policy areas. The chapter suggests that some of the conceptual frameworks currently in use to characterise German federalism display various shortcomings when employed to review higher education policy-making.