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End to military conscription could overwhelm universities

The Local · 19 Oct 2010, 10:28

Published: 19 Oct 2010 10:28 GMT+02:00

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Though it still awaits official approval, Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s military reform plan aims to modernise the Bundeswehr by cutting compulsory military service to create a smaller, more efficient professional force.

Guttenberg has previously flagged a reduction in personnel from the present 250,000 to as few as 163,500, though last month government sources said the figure was more likely to be around 180,000.

Cutting conscription will also mean an end to the Zivildienst public service programme, where young men choose to work in social and community facilities instead of joining the Bundeswehr.

“This could mean that in 2011 universities will have to take on an additional 50,000 students,” head of Germany's state education affairs conference (KMK) Ludwig Spaenle told daily Handelsblatt.

The run on universities would come at an unfavourable time because institutions had already expected record enrolment figures between 2011 and 2014, said Spaenle, who is also Bavaria’s Education Minister.

The KMK has therefore created a special committee to review the educational consequences of Guttenberg’s reforms.

“It is likely that an expansion on educational reforms will be necessary,“ Spaenle said.

In the coming year the states of Lower Saxony and Bavaria expect to see the number of students entering universities double, explained Margret Wintermantel, head of the German Rector’s Conference (HRK).

“This situation will intensify with the end of conscription,” she said.

Universities will do everything they can to meet the challenge, though, she told Handelsblatt.

Story continues below…

“But for that there must be flexibility with the education reforms. Funding will have to flow earlier than previously planned,” she said.

Guttenberg's reforms must be approved at party conventions for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in mid-November and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), in late October, after which they can be presented to parliament.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:16 October 19, 2010 by pepsionice
First, this is from the education ministry, so you have to think about this a bit. Most German guys going to the German army...aren't going to calculate with university situations. There might be another 1,000 over the whole of Germany that might use this avenue of life. Second, even if the university system took this 'threat' serious.....they are totally unable to change their system in such a short period of time. Finally, it's interesting how this all comes back to funding....expecting a pay-off before you even register a single guy for classes. I think the university system is trying to capture 'stimulus' money in this case.
13:31 October 19, 2010 by chris88
The numbers won't double, and here's why.

Universities take approx 50:50 male:female students.

If two years' worth of male students joins at once you get a 100:50 ratio, i.e. 2:1

So the increase is a maximum of 50%
14:06 October 19, 2010 by DinhoPilot
Oh no! More people knocking in the tables or desk after class ends... The sound is unbearable! ^^ The torture!
16:48 October 19, 2010 by darwiniandemon
@chris 88,

Actually, it's a lot less. Not every single potential male soldier will choose to go to university. There are the ones that might decide to work right after gymnasium/real/hauptschule. And there are likely those that would choose to enter the military voluntarily.

I recall something comparable happen in Ontario when the decided to end OAC (Grade 13) in 2003 (or was it 2002)? Anyway, the universities prepped for this "double cohort" of students by increasing the number and size of facilities. They even opened a new university just west of Toronto. 4 years later when this double cohort graduated, many of them cannot find jobs due to doubling of the number of graduates. The property crisis in the US in the fall of 2007 didn't help either. I knew some that decide to continue with graduate school but 2 years later, they are in the same situation with the same competition.

So, even if the academic world is prepared to accept higher number of students, I'm not sure the job market can.
00:34 October 20, 2010 by Stenzel
maybe they can focus on making the new students into the needed engineers that DE needs..
09:21 October 20, 2010 by chris88

You're correct that the increase will probably be less than 50% (hence why I said maximum 50%). However, it won't be for the reasons you mention.

Of course not all those who do Wehrdienst/Zivildienst go on to university. However, we can presume that the number who do is constant from year to year. Since almost all males do one of the other, it is reasonable to expect that their numbers will nearly double.

I predict a ca. 40% rise because some were ineligible for Wehrdienst/Zivildienst anyway and would have gone straight to university, and some will take a gap year to avoid this suggested crush/sausagefest with approx 60% males
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