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On 3 May 2019, the ministers of education of Germany’s states and their federal counterpart, collectively forming the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskommission), reached an agreement on three funding packages for higher education and research in the next decade. This way, the successor schemes to a number of existing ‘pacts’ have been secured.
In Germany, education and research is mainly the competence of the Länder. They have been - and often still are - defending this privilege fiercely vis-a-vis the Federal Ministry of Education. However, many Länder are not in good financial shape. They therefore welcome in principle federal cofounding, while at the same time fearing that such funding will erode their legal competence and allow the federal state to make inroads onto their territory. This complicated situation has led to relatively long negotiations on the agreements now finally adopted.
The first of these agreements, entitled “strengthening teaching and learning” (Studium und Lehre stärken) is intended to improve the quality of teaching and learning, whereas its predecessor scheme aimed at the increase of quantitative capacity (number of study places). The second package is also about teaching in higher education but, as its name, it aims at innovation in teaching and learning. The third ‘package’, the Pact for Research and Innovation (Pakt für Forschung und Innovation) will benefit the extra-university research organisations (for example the Max-Planck Gesellschaft).
The first two of these agreements will provide funding of EUR 41,5 billion in the period from 2021 to 2030. In the same period, the Pact for Research and Innovation will provide EUR 120 billion. The deals will finally be approved by Chancellor Merkel and the heads of the German states on 6 June 2019.