31.10.2014 | KPMG Law Insights

GWK decides to continue existing science pacts

Dear Readers,

as the political education, research and funding landscape has also become extremely active in the last quarter of this year, this newsletter also thrives on reports around education and research. Take a look at our articles for news on higher education policy, innovations in the funding area, and the results of a study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on the study situation and student orientation.

We had the impression that those of you who are interested in procurement law have been somewhat neglected so far. Therefore, the focus of this newsletter is on public procurement law with new and exciting decisions from case law that are important for universities and research institutions.

We would very much appreciate your feedback on the areas we have covered so far – are these sufficient for you in the context of your daily work? Are there possibly any topics you would like to have discussed as well? Do not hesitate and feel free to call us about it or write a short feedback by mail.

We wish you interesting reading!

Sincerely yours

Public Sector Team of KPMG Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH

Mathias Oberndörfer Dr. Anke Empting

Lawyer Attorney

On October 30, 2014, the Joint Science Conference of the Federal Government and the Länder (GWK) agreed on the continuation of the Higher Education Pact, the DFG program allowances and the Pact for Research and Innovation until 2020.

Provided that the heads of government of the federal and state governments give their final approval at their meeting on December 11, 2014, the main funding programs with a funding volume of EUR 25.3 billion will move into the next funding phase. One focus will again be the so-called Excellence Initiative.

Interim balance of the latest meeting on the Excellence Initiative in Bad Honnef

At the largest-ever joint meeting of the graduate schools, clusters of excellence and institutional strategies funded on the basis of the Excellence Initiative, initiated by the DFG and the German Council of Science and Humanities in early October 2014, the participants unanimously drew a positive conclusion and made an urgent appeal to policymakers to further develop and continue the program.

He said that the Excellence Initiative had provided a wide range of impetus to the German science system and had also made German universities much more attractive internationally as places of top research and starting points for innovation. These successes must be built on, for which a rapid fundamental decision by the federal and state governments on continuation is an indispensable prerequisite.

Submission of the German science ministers on the extension of the initiative

Even after the current funding phase ends in 2017, there will be money for top German research, just as much as under the current Excellence Initiative, which will have granted around four billion euros for exceptional scientific achievements by 2017. How the funding will look in the future is still open and depends on the results of the investigations of an evaluation commission expected in January 2016.

Dispute over the financing of the program flat rate

A dispute has erupted over the distribution of costs for funding research between the federal government and the states; specifically, it is about the costs of the so-called program lump sum, which have so far been borne by the federal government, something the Federal Audit Office criticized last year. Since then, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has been calling for the states to participate – so far without success.

Currently, the basic funding of many research projects is provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The DFG also grants the so-called program lump sum (20 percent of the project costs) to cover the additional costs incurred. Depending on the department, however, 40 to 70 percent would be required, according to university rectors.

In contrast, research at non-university institutions is fully cost-financed. In order to eliminate this disadvantage vis-à-vis universities and to secure university research in the long term, the Senate of the German Rectors’ Conference recently called for a gradual increase in the program allowance. All new projects would first have to reach at least the level of EU research funding of 25 percent. The goal, he said, must be to achieve full-cost financing by 2020.

According to the HRK, the steady increase in third-party funding (20 percent) coupled with stagnation or shrinkage of basic funding has fundamentally changed the financing structure of universities in recent years. At some universities, third-party funding even accounts for more than one-third of the total financial volume.

Results of the current student survey

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has published the 12th Student Survey. This is based on a survey of around 5,000 students at 25 universities conducted in the 2012/13 winter semester.

  • Three-quarters of students are satisfied with being a student. Satisfaction levels are similar within all subject groups.
  • At 51 percent, the proportion of female German students at universities has just overtaken the male proportion, so taking up a course of study is not dependent on gender. However, the social background of students still plays a role. Universities are still predominantly attended by students of academic origin (approx. 58 percent). At 37 percent, the rate for universities of applied sciences is significantly lower.
  • Top graders choose primarily medical and science subjects.
  • About 80 percent of students from university bachelor’s programs want to pursue a master’s degree.
  • Students show an aversive attitude toward science and research: For about 35 percent of the students, this area is rather or completely unimportant, another 45 percent meet science and research with indifference.
  • Every second student wants to keep exactly to the standard period of study. On average, the planning of students until graduation is about 1.2 semesters longer than the standard period of study at universities, and about 0.6 semesters longer at universities of applied sciences.
  • The expectations for learning are viewed by students as more appropriate than they were when the 11th Student Survey was conducted. In this context, students from universities of applied sciences confirm significant improvements in terms of work intensity and performance records.
  • The final grade is especially important for students if they already have a clear picture of their career path in mind. Personal development, on the other hand, is not accorded comparable importance.
  • Students confirm a noticeable improvement in the quality of their studies: At universities of applied sciences, 72 percent rate the implementation of courses as “good” or “very good,” while at universities, the figure is 63 percent.

Aline Heurley, KPMG Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, Düsseldorf

T 0211 4155597-160;

Dr. Anke Empting, KPMG Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, Düsseldorf

T 0211 4155597-161;

Julia Paul, KPMG Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, Düsseldorf

T 0211 4155597-163;

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