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At a meeting of the education ministers of Germany’s Länder (states) and their federal counterpart, the decision was taken to provide additional funding in the framework of the country’s ‘higher education pact’ (Hochschulpakt). For the present phase of the initiative (2011 – 2015), the federal government has pledged an additional amount of EUR 2.2 billion, lifting its overall contribution to over EUR 7 billion. The states have promised to contribute “comparable amounts”. There was also an in principle agreement that the Hochschulpakt, which is scheduled to run until 2020, will receive more funding than originally foreseen in the period after 2015.
The higher education pact was set up in 2007 as an instrument to help universities and colleges cope with an expected increase in enrolments. As it turned out, growth in higher education participation was even steeper than originally assumed, due to a demographic peak, as well as one-off effects such as a double cohort of school leavers (due to the introduction of earlier graduation in some states) as well as the end of compulsory military service (Wehrpflicht). The increase of funds is motivated by this stronger-than-expected growth.
Both the federal minister of education, Johanna Wanka, and her colleague from Rhineland-Palatine hailed the agreement as a breakthrough and a clear sign of the countries’ commitment to higher education in times of normally tight budgets. Also welcoming the agreement, the President of the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz/HRK), Professor Hippler, spoke of a last-minute measure avoiding only the worst. He raised doubts that the states would manage to provide identical matching funds to the federal contribution. He also repeated the HRK’s well-known demand to amend the country’s constitution (Grundgesetz), which, with very few exceptions, prevents the federal government to fund universities and colleges directly.
Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (in German)