Education minister calls for speedy reform as students protest
As student protests across Germany continue, Education Minister Annette Schavan on Thursday called for states to quickly enact reforms that have already been agreed upon.
“The students need a clear signal that the corrections that have been decided are being incorporated into the academic system,” Schavan told broadcaster Südwestrundfunk, adding that new degree courses needed “streamlined.”
Schavan also said that age limits and increases to student financial aid commonly called BaföG should be discussed.
“But elite aid also belongs to educational policy,” she added, saying that national grant programmes need improvement.
Schavan’s comments followed the most recent student protest on Wednesday night at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where students occupied a lecture hall to demand changes to educational policy.
“No one can force an academic reform against the will of the students,” a statement from the Munich students said. “Therefore we call for rights of co-determination for all decision-making processes that affect studies at the university.”
Similar protests are ongoing at some 20 other German universities. They began last week as a show of solidarity for their Austrian counterparts, who have also staged protests in recent weeks.
Their complaints include overloaded degree courses, social inequality within the educational system, chronic funding shortages and problems in restructuring bachelors and masters degree programmes.
The Bologna reforms, which introduced bachelor and masters programmes to Europe, are meant to be completed in Germany by 2010, but many students say they force a focus on professional training to the detriment of scholarly learning.