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criticism of the amendment of the Bayerischen Hochschulgesetzes (BayHSchG)

A new law that will dramatically change our studies and the university while also diminishing student participation is to be passed.

The Bavarian State Government intends to revise the Bayerische Hochschulgesetz (BayHSchG, "Bavarian Higher Education Act") fundamentally. There is not yet a concrete draft of the law, but a key issues paper has already been published [1]. Since the plans announced in this paper could completely change our studies, we would like to point this out to you and discuss the planned changes with you.

The key issues paper identifies noble goals: Bureaucracy is to be reduced, universities are to be granted the greatest possible freedom and application-oriented research is to be promoted explicitly.

On closer reading, however, we fear that the change will have many negative effects on our universities, research, and teaching. We are particularly critical of the following points:

Tuition fees for international students are to be legalized

The new BayHSchG opens up the possibility for universities to charge tuition fees to so-called "Bildungsausländer" (foreign students), even explicitly informing universities about this option. The introduction of these tuition fees not only hinders international exchange but also has the potential to disadvantage students selectively. Especially students from financially weaker families are thus severely restricted in their study planning. After all, we too would like to study abroad without tuition fees.

University Executive Boards are to be strengthened and universities de-democratized

The key issues paper provides the possibility to substitute decisions of the faculties' committees (in which we students also participate) with direct decisions of the University Executive Board, preventing the participation of the different status groups (professors, staff, students), who then have to live with these decisions. We also fear a significant deterioration of the decisions if they are no longer thought through by the committees involved in their implementation.

Research and teaching are to be separated

Pure research professorships are to be made possible, which - without teaching - are intended to do research only. This contrasts with the fact that in current research, progress is also made through cooperation and work with doctoral candidates and students. Moreover, this is the only way to train and promote the next generation of scientists.

Universities are to be entrepreneurial

Furthermore, the entrepreneurship of universities is to be facilitated and cooperation with the industry is to be strengthened. Universities can become dependent and the freedom of research and teaching can be endangered. Of course, non-application-oriented research and the humanities and social sciences also experience significantly more problems attracting third-party funding from companies. We therefore view this move with concern, both in terms of independence and the selection of research.

We share these fears with many others, especially with many professors, lecturers, employees, and students of other disciplines throughout Bavaria. An "Initiative für Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften" (Initiative for the Humanities and Social Sciences) [2] has already been formed. Since these subjects could potentially suffer most from the reform, they are already organizing a petition and a demonstration. Even though we study other subjects and receive other grants - we share the goals of economic independence and scientific freedom.

We cordially invite you to inform yourself about the reform, discuss it, and get involved to generate a broad social debate. In this debate, we must clarify what we expect from our universities and how the key issues paper, which is still very vague in many areas, can be reasonably put into concrete terms. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the key points, please feel free to contact us. We would also be delighted if you sent us your opinion and input on the proposed topics by e-mail.


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