An academic commission this week recommended holding a hearing whether to open a case against the Christian Democratic minister in January.
“The faculty has no choice but to continue down this path of investigation,” the university’s rector, Michael Piper, told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.
Schavan, who competed her dissertation in Düsseldorf in 1980, has long denied she failed to properly cite her sources.
However, accusations of plagiarism were first published anonymously on the blog schavanplag.wordpress at the beginning of May, prompting the university to announce it would investigate. Altogether, passages on 60 of the dissertation’s 351 pages were found to be questionable.
Beyond the embarrassment at having Germany’s top education official face charges of academic impropriety, it is not the first plagiarism case to hit Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
In 2011, her popular defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was forced to resign when it was uncovered he had copied large chunks of his doctoral dissertation.