Petition of the Student Representation of the University Erlangen-Nuernberg

A major coup is to be the „Hochschulinnovationsgesetz“ (university innovation law). It aims to unleash the universities, deregulate them, allow entrepreneurial activity and give the universities the possibility to define their own structure within a corporate transformation. The Higher Education Act regulates all matters, rights, duties, structures and dependencies of the universities and colleges in Bavaria, e.g. how the university administration is determined, to which committee resolutions it must comply, how funds are distributed by the federal state, how a course of study is founded, etc. The new Higher Education Act is designed to contain as few details as possible and thus give the colleges and universities maximum freedom. Of course, the processes still have to be specified then, but this should only happen directly at each higher education institution for the higher education institution itself. With great freedom comes great responsibility. The reform also offers opportunities for the future of Bavaria’s higher education institutions, but these must be used to wisely. From the positions known to date, experts fear – referencing to a key issues paper [1] – the risk of disempowering democratic structures („Aufgehübschtes Führerprinzip“ [2]) and the demise of courses of study with weak third-party funding or small subjects[3] and the the one-sided orientation of existing subjects towards short to medium-term economic/ political goals.

What could a higher education institution of the future look like after this key issues paper on the Higher Education Innovation Act? And why should it matter to you?

  • You study Nordic Philology (or another small discipline)? In Bavaria that may come to an end, soon.
  • You think that students should be involved in deciding who will teach them in the future? This could soon look different in Bavaria!
  • You think language courses for everyone should be standard at the higher education institution? For the time being, in Bavaria your higher education institution must be able to afford it.
  • You think it’s good that even the university administration can’t just make decisions without checks and balances? In Bavaria, this soon only happens when the university administration is willing to do so.
  • You think that good teaching should be a priority for higher education? Then you are in the wrong state.
  • You think a new higher education law should improve the ratio of tutoring? Unfortunately not in Bavaria.
  • You want to improve the future career opportunities and working conditions in the academic mid-level faculty and for doctoral students at universities? Unfortunately you will be disappointed.
  • You think that a new university law should improve the study conditions for all faculties? In Bavaria, unfortunately not.

That sounds drastic? It is drastic! To prevent these fears from coming true, the law must account for the interests of all status groups #ReformTheReform Due to the previously very fast, non-transparent process and the currently available drafts, we do not see this fully guaranteed. The Student Convention has drawn up a position paper [4] which contains the points that we students would like to see in a university law, e.g. containing the following points:

  1. Adequate democratic representation of students and other status groups in all decision-making processes.
  2. For special projects to improve study conditions, students should (continue to) have an equal say in deciding on a budget.
  3. Entrepreneurial activities at the university should not interfere with research and teaching activities.
  4. Ecological, social and economic questions regarding infrastructure and strategy have to be thought and applied by the higher education institution on a long-term basis.
  5. Equality, diversity and making it possible to study and work with any form of mental and physical disability has to be supported by appropriate measures.

We all are university, especially we students. A law FOR the higher education institutions must not leave the interests of most status groups completely untreated. We say #keineUniOhneUns! #ReformTheReform!

Sign our petition if you want your interests in the university to remain legally protected!


addition to 1.: Adequate democratic representation of students and other status groups in all decision-making processes.

Currently, some higher education administrations promise us that participation possibilities will not change in comparison to the current rules, but will also be anchored in the new basic regulations of the individual higher education institutions. But basic regulations can easily be changed and trusting in the assurance of privileges increases the risk of being blackmailed. Transparent processes with extensive opportunities for student participation can already be derived from the Bavarian Constitution (§ 138) and should therefore be adequately reflected in the law.

addition to 2.: For special projects to improve study conditions, students should (continue to) have an equal say in deciding on a budget.

This budget currently exists and will be used to pay for elective courses, learning room equipment, tutors and other improvements for student life. In future there is to be a global budget; in short, all the higher education institution’s expenditure from all areas is to be paid from one large pool. This could increase the financial conflict between research, building and education funding resulting in disadvantaged education.

addition to 3.: Entrepreneurial activities at the university should not interfere with research and teaching activities.

Topics in demand and (financially) supported by the commercial sector, for example, may not be valued higher than basic subjects and subjects distant from industry. The new law is often associated with the buzz word “university of entrepreneurship”. Research and teaching must be independent of third-party funding, even though we encourage cooperation with external partners (industry, business, NGOs, social institutions, etc.) where it is appropriate. Therefore, we believe that all disciplines need sufficient basic funding.

[1] https://www.stmwk.bayern.de/allgemein/meldung/6576/talente-foerdern-und-wettbewerb-staerken-freistaat-bringt-umfassende-hochschulreform-auf-den-weg.html

[2] https://www.sueddeutsche.de/bayern/bayern-hochschulgesetz-reform-soeder-1.5063066

[3] https://www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/aufgehuebschtes-fuehrerprinzip-wirbel-um-hochschulgesetz,SDP1WmA

[4] https://wiki.stuve.fau.de/_media/uniweit:gremien:konvent:positionspapier_zur_novellierung_des_bayhschg.pdf

Source: https://www.openpetition.de/petition/online/keineuniohneuns-keine-innovation-auf-kosten-der-demokratie-und-der-lehrqualitaet-reformthereform