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Germany: Federal education minister pushes for ‘higher education pact’

German higher education policies continue to surprise observers. After the new government’s attempt, as part of the country’s constitutional reform, to reduce its own role in higher education to almost zero, federal education minister Schavan is taking the lead in forging a “pact for higher education” with her colleagues from Germany’s Länder.

On 2 May, Schavan convened misters from Germany’s 16 states to discuss a set of financial and other measures to prepare the country’s universities and colleges for the expected strong increase in student numbers in the coming years, and to strengthen their research capacity. In the latter area, the aim is to increase public spending to one percent of GDP (and to reach, together with private funds, the Lisbon target of three percent of GDP overall). Additional measures discussed are the promotion of “excellence” in research and faculty, and support for the Fachhochschulen (colleges) for cooperation in applied research with the corporate sector in regional “innovation centres”.

A high-level working group, composed of federal and Länder ministries, is to develop concrete proposals until the end of the year. Not all German states seem to be enthusiastic.