• Germany's news in English
 

Schavan won't resign, fights for doctorate

Published: 06 Feb 2013 11:50 GMT+01:00

Speaking on Wednesday during a trip to South Africa, Schavan said, "I will not accept the decision of Düsseldorf University and will appeal against it. Considering the legal conflict, I ask for your understanding that I will not make any further statements today."

The university decided on Tuesday evening after a lengthy period of consultation to strip her of the doctorate she got in 1980 for her thesis "Person and Conscience". Technically she now only has her Abitur qualification - the German equivalent of British A levels - as she did not take a separate degree but proceeded directly to her doctorate.

She immediately came under intense pressure to resign her ministerial job, with many commentators comparing her case with that of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg who resigned from his defence minister job in 2011 after it was found he had copied large chunks of his doctoral thesis.

Schavan is a close political ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces re-election this September and could do without losing a senior colleague.

Opposition politicians are keen to portray her as a liability for Merkel and spent much of Tuesday evening and Wednesday calling for her resignation, particularly in view of her position as minister for education and research.

German media were a little more forgiving.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung said Schavan's case was a borderline one - as demonstrated by the length of time it took the university to check it. "The misconduct of the current minister was more than 30 years ago. One should have taken all of this into account, have reprimanded her for the poor quotes and have been able to leave it at that."

The paper said that with Guttenberg and Schavan, Merkel's government has a plagiarist rate of 12.5 percent - nearly as high as the share of pages in Schavan's doctoral thesis that were erroneous.

"The decision against Schavan sets strict standards, also for the checking of dissertations that have long been mouldering away in libraries. It may be exciting to see who many titles will fall victim to these standards," the paper concludes.

The Berliner Zeitung said, "It is already clear that the decision does not only hit the academic reputation of Frau Schavan. An education minister who is found out to have plagiarised parts of her dissertation can hardly remain in office."

But the paper added that the academics at Düsseldorf University, who did not bring in external examiners to look at the thesis, would also become part of the political discussion. It also said that although it is undisputed that Schavan's work has serious academic errors, a new examination of it more than 30 years later with massive consequences for her career is questionable at the least. "If this concerned a crime it would have long exceeded the statute of limitations," the paper said.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung pointed out that Schavan had set the bar high when she had weighed in publicly on the Guttenberg case, criticising his plagiarism. "She must now be measured against that. Angela Merkel who delayed for a long time in the Guttenberg plagiarism affair can hardly afford, at the start of the federal election campaign, to hold onto a struggling minister."

The Local/DPA/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:27 February 6, 2013 by melbournite
and politicians wonder why we hate them. I suggest that the profession is self-selecting, only the biggest liars and cheats make it to ministerial level
22:14 February 6, 2013 by McM
An interesting development, the press calling for the Uni to account for its shonky credential award system at last. While the popular press is off on its latest witch hunt and tall poppy harvesting finally the Berlininer Zeitung has dared to raise the core issue with this type of problem. The speed at which the Uni and academic community has gone into fog production and self righteous hyporacy hinting that they are not responsible for the slack peer review of past academics and how they are all old and retired now blah blah .Ha, what a load of crap. They have to be held accountable if their award candidate is being asked to account.
22:31 February 6, 2013 by pepsionice
Here's the thing. Pull out one thousand thesis from 2001, and it'll shock you....even in Germany....that half the people did a lousy job, and it should NOT have been accepted. Everyone puts this huge emphasis on the thesis and how it's supposed to demonstrate something. The truth is....you actually get more points for writing a great flowing and grammar-correct thesis, but low on real content.

So, let's do the right thing. Start pulling out every thesis written twenty years ago and let's review a second time. I'm pretty sure a vast number will fail.
08:24 February 7, 2013 by Englishted
@ McM

So if I am correct what you are saying is if somebody lies and cheats it is the fault of the person on the receiving end.

If a house is burgled it is the owners of the house that are to blame ,not the person setting out to commit a criminal act .

She used this fraud throughout her rise to high office and also to earn higher wages for a job to which she was not entitled or qualified.

Shame on the press for exposing this fraud ,they should be concentrating on the propaganda about how well we are doing and how low unemployment is etc.etc.
12:03 February 7, 2013 by McM
I propose that all parties be accountable.Simple enough?
Today's headlines
Presented by the Croatian National Tourist Board
10 surprising things you didn’t know about Zagreb
Zagreb is a hot spot for tourists from Germany. But why? Photo: Shutterstock

10 surprising things you didn’t know about Zagreb

The Croatian capital is the latest trendy destination among Germans seeking warmer weather. So what’s the lure? The Local investigates ten reasons why the Deutsch are flocking to Zagreb. READ  

Greece crisis
Varoufakis begs for calm in war of words
Greek Independence Day celebrations on March 24th. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis begs for calm in war of words

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called on German and Greek leaders to calm their rhetoric over his country's bailout programme in an op-ed published in Germany on Monday. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa fear second black box won't be found
A flight data recorder. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa fear second black box won't be found

Germany's national airline Lufthansa says that the flight data recorder which could provide key evidence about the causes of the Germanwings plane crash last Tuesday may never be found. READ  

Rail in north and east delayed by storms
Photo: DPA

Rail in north and east delayed by storms

Rail passengers will have to deal with delays on several key rail lines after storms on Sunday night caused damage to infrastructure. READ  

Germany grab vital win in Georgia
Photo: DPA

Germany grab vital win in Georgia

Marco Reus and Thomas Müller's first-half goals sealed a 2-0 win in Georgia on Sunday to put the world champions' Euro 2016 qualifying campaign back on track. READ  

Ethiopia's Legese wins Berlin half marathon
Ethiopia's Legese (R) crosses the finish line just ahead of Kenya's Kogei. Photo: APF

Ethiopia's Legese wins Berlin half marathon

Ethiopia's Birhanu Legese won the Berlin half marathon on Sunday as African runners dominated the top ten finishers in the men's race. READ  

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash
A section of the Nürburgring's north circuit

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash

A man has been killed and several others injured in an accident at Germany's Nürburgring racetrack. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germany to hold April service for crash victims
Photo: DPA

Germany to hold April service for crash victims

Germany will hold a national memorial ceremony and service on April 17 for victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, regional authorities said on Saturday. READ  

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram
The world's roundest sphere. Photo: DPA

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram

The German Nation Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig has set itself the enormous task of finding a new formula for measuring a kilogram. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

Germanwings said on Friday that it had no knowledge of a doctor-signed sick note found by investigators at flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's flat. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,127
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd