23.10.2019 | KPMG Law Insights

Successor to the Higher Education Pact: “Strengthening the Future Contract on Studying and Teaching”.

Successor to the Higher Education Pact: “Strengthening the Future Contract on Studying and Teaching”.

On May 3, 2019, the Joint Science Conference (GWK) adopted three science packages and agreed on a corresponding federal-state agreement. These are the following three agreements:

– “Strengthening the future contract for studying and teaching”
– “Innovation in university teaching” (previously “Quality Pact for Teaching”)
– “Pact for Research and Innovation

With the “Zukunftsvertrag”, the federal and state governments are pursuing the goal of improving the quality of study and teaching at universities and maintaining study place capacities beyond 2020. The successor to the Higher Education Pact aims in particular to expand permanent employment relationships for staff involved in teaching and learning.

The federal and state governments are thus sending an important signal to science and education: they are prepared to invest more money in Germany as a research location and thus ensure planning security until 2030.

In this regard, the plan calls for a permanent federal commitment to higher education funding. For their part, the states will co-finance 50% of the Future Contract in addition to the basic funding of the universities. Specifically, the agreement provides for annual funding from the federal and state governments of 1.88 billion euros each for the years 2021 to 2023. From 2024, this amount is to be increased to 2.05 billion. The distribution of funds is based on the number of students, graduates and first-year students and consequently must be recalculated annually.

For the years 2021 and 2027, a transitional arrangement applies whereby city states receive a lump sum of 40 million euros, which is, however, shared with the financially weak new federal states and Saarland for the years 2021 and 2022. From 2023, the bulk of the lump sum will then go to the federal capital Berlin, which is to receive 30 of the total 40 million euros from then on.

Every seven years, the states have the opportunity to address state-specific and cross-state challenges and develop implementation strategies within a “consultation process” with the federal government.

The Ministry of Education considers the strict requirements imposed on the states to be a major success. Whereas the Federal Court of Auditors recently criticized the expiring pact on the grounds that the states had not been monitored closely enough with regard to compliance with their requirements and had cheated in many areas, the successor agreement puts a stop to this. According to the new agreement on the future, the states will have to prove their Pact funds separately from their basic funding in the future. If the states do not pay the corresponding funds, the federal government will also reduce the funds accordingly. Conversely, however, this also means for some states, assuming that there was indeed trickery beforehand, that they will spend more funds on the new pact than before – to the delight of the universities. In addition, funds from the pacts should not continue to be “parked” but must be used. Otherwise, they would be reclaimed.

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