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Germany: quality pact, Bologna summit and student discontent

Germany’s Federal Minister for Education, Annette Schavan, has announced a new funding package labeled ‘quality pact’ worth EUR 2 billion over the next ten years to improve teaching at the country’s universities. The package includes funds to employ additional (junior) staff, student tutors and counselors. It is also to boost student mobility.

The measures were made public in the same week in which Germany announced plans to cut public spending by EUR 80 billion, from which education and research are to be exempted, and in which it confirmed its commitment to a target of 10 percent of GDP spending on education. However, there are some doubts if it will all happen. The Federal Government is only a small contributor to overall higher education expenditure – with the country’s states (Länder) carrying most of the burden. Many of them have announced that higher education will not escape from their savings efforts.

Schavan made her announcement after a ‘Bologna summit’, at which she met with university and student representatives, the Länder and businesses. Student organisations staged an ‘alternative summit’ in protest. The Bologna reforms have recently been criticised in Germany – often for shortcomings unrelated to them, such as under-funding.