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A roller coaster ride through German higher education

On 4 June, education ministers of the German Länder (regions) and the Federal Government adopted a funding agreement for higher education and research worth a total of EUR 18 billion, for the period up to 2015. The second Higher Education and Research Pact was announced at the education summit in autumn last year (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, October 2008 and The agreement spans three packages aimed at:

  • creating places for around 275 000 additional students (EUR 26 000 for every additional student over a four-year period);
  • strengthening the innovative potential of research (by taking the Excellence Initiative into the next round); and
  • providing support to the major national non-university research organisations.

All that glitters is not gold. While the new agreement seems like the right step to take, student protests throughout Germany paint a gloomier picture. Strikes organised by a national action committee "Bildungstreik 2009“ found the support of the trade unions and during the week of 15-19 June, students took to the streets in more than 70 German cities, expressing their concern about:

  • access to education;
  • the commercialisation of education (as manifested in the recently introduced tuition fees in some Länder); and
  • the allegedly poorly implemented Bachelor - Master system, with unbearable work loads and little flexibility for students.

It remains to be seen what the consequences will be and in what shape governments, institutions and student bodies will come out of this roller coaster ride.

German government
Bildungsstreik 2009