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Schavan resigns amid plagiarism affair

The Local · 9 Feb 2013, 14:38

Published: 09 Feb 2013 14:38 GMT+01:00

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Merkel said she had accepted the resignation of Annette Schavan "with a heavy heart" after her former university stripped her of her doctorate, saying she had plagiarised parts of her thesis "Person and Conscience" 33 years ago.

Schavan reiterated her vow to fight the allegations but said she did not want the claims to damage the office, her Christian Democratic Union party, or the federal government.

"I think today is the right day to leave my ministerial post and to concentrate on my duties as a member of parliament," said a visibly moved Schavan.

"My decision stems from the same responsibility with which I have tried to carry out my office," she added.

"First my country, then my party and then me personally."

Merkel said she had proposed to the president that Johanna Wanka, a minister in the state of Lower Saxony, should succeed her.

Schavan, 57, became the second Merkel ally to step down over plagiarism charges after Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a popular defence minister once tipped as a future chancellor, resigned in 2011.

The extent of Schavan's alleged plagiarism is thought to be less than that of Guttenberg's, whose actions earned the aristocrat the nicknames "Baron cut-and-paste" and "zu Googleberg."

Nevertheless, Schavan's mistakes were seen as indefensible given her position as education minister in a country where academic titles are taken extremely seriously.

Story continues below…

There was also an element of schadenfreude, given her reaction to zu Guttenberg's downfall, when she said she was "ashamed" of her former cabinet colleague.

"As someone who was herself awarded a doctorate 31 years ago and who has supervised several doctoral candidates, I am ashamed and not just behind closed doors," she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung at the time.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:42 February 9, 2013 by lucksi
19:26 February 9, 2013 by Englishted
Another cheat bites the dust ,will she now repay all the money she so fraudulently earned by using a title to which she was not entitled.
20:17 February 9, 2013 by lucksi
Hehehe, good one. I think the university should also pay while we are dreaming about what should be.
09:04 February 10, 2013 by Enough
Of all the people who should know better...the education minister should....so she gets what she deserves in this case, and it sure isn't keeping her PhD.
14:58 February 10, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
Whereas it is today becoming easier to check the work of students in the west, (a fifth of whom, according to a recent survey, admit cheating), those who learnt in the GDR need have little fear of discovery. With the reunification of the two thirds of Germany, which had not been confiscated by neighbouring countries after WW2, the general opinion was that the capitalists, under Chancellor Kohl, would take control of the GDR. Now we are seeing just the opposite, more and more important positions in parliament are passing into the hands of politicians with a communist education. The political influence on the students in the former central, (now called east), Germany was enormous. Academic honours less a matter of ability, than that of loyalty to the regime. In so far, these qualifications must also be regarded with sceptisism.

Of course, it is not just the cheats themselves who are to blame, many of these regard cheating rather as an intellectual sport, than as a crime. As they used to say in the British army, you do not get punished for doing something wrong, but for being stupid enough to get caught. The universities are to blame! Were they to concentrate on knowledge, rather than prestige, we would not have so many half baked managers within the world of industry and commerce, and certainly not so many rogues in the German Government.
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