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Germany: Scholarship programme for top-performing students to go ahead

As was reported in the April 2010 edition of ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, the German federal government approved a bill to create a scholarship programme for the country’s best-performing students, due to begin next spring.  According to the bill, half of the programme’s cost was to be funded from public sources, in equal shares from the federal and state (Länder) budgets.  As feared by some, the Länder, many of which face severe financial difficulties, refused to pass the bill in Germany’s second chamber, the Bundesrat, in the originally proposed form. Now, the federal government has saved the scheme by agreeing to cover the entirety of the programme’s public funding requirement. The law will enter into force on 1 August 2010.

The scholarships have been created to provide the country’s top ten percent of high-achieving students with a monthly stipend of EUR 300. The scope of the scheme is planned to gradually expand until 2013, by which time public investment is expected to have reached EUR 160 million and about 90 000 students will have benefitted. There is still some doubt if the programme will reach these proportions—a scholarship will only be paid if matching funds on the order of 50 percent are made available by the private sector, namely through businesses and foundations.

Meanwhile, a decision on the government’s parallel proposal to increase monthly rates in Germany’s state loan system BAföG has been postponed.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (in German)