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20.01.2021 | KPMG Law Insights

VG Köln: Private lecturer has no claim to inclusion of the course offered by him in compulsory or elective courses offered by the university

VG Köln: Private lecturer has no claim to inclusion of the course offered by him in compulsory or elective courses offered by the university

In a nutshell

In its decision of November 13, 2020 (Case No. 6 L 1807/20), the VG Cologne ruled that a private lecturer has no claim against the employing body – in this case the university – beyond the inclusion of an offered course in the course catalog to the assignment of this course to the core curriculum. The decision on this is ultimately up to the university, which has a broad organizational discretion in fulfilling this responsibility.

Background

The applicant in the aforementioned proceedings was a private lecturer at a university in North Rhine-Westphalia, who was awarded the Venia Legendi for the subject “Romance Philology” in 2013. Based on this, the latter requested by way of an interim injunction the amendment of the university curriculum to the extent that a course on modern French literature offered by him should be classified as relevant to the curriculum (in the compulsory or elective courses).

Decision

The Cologne Administrative Court (VG Köln) rejected a claim for an injunction by the private lecturer. The right and also the obligation of the university lecturer to offer courses (even in competition with university professors) follows from the habilitation regulations of the faculty of the university in conjunction with the NRW Higher Education Act. This also means that the right arising from Art. 5 Para. 3 S. 1 GG (freedom of science) to include the courses offered within the framework of this compulsory teaching in the curriculum. However, the respondent had satisfied this requirement by including the registered course in the course catalog. In contrast, there is no further claim to assign the offered course to the compulsory or optional courses of a degree program, i.e. to assign it to the respective curriculum. Rather, according to applicable (state) higher education law, it is the task of the university or, subsequently, of the respective faculty to ensure, on the basis of an annual study plan coordinated in terms of subject matter, time and place, the range of courses required to comply with the examination regulations and to fulfill the mission of continuing education. In this regard, the university has a broad organizational discretion. Since it is a recognized consequence of this comprehensive organizational competence of the university that the individual university lecturer has no legal claim to the assignment of quite specific courses, this applies a fortiori to the decision as to whether a course offered counts as part of the course offerings of a specific degree program.

In other respects, the teaching of courses within the scope of the title teaching is predominantly in the interest of the private lecturer himself. The fact that the applicant considers his teaching outside the curriculum to be “pointless” is therefore not to be blamed on the respondent. Rather, it is the sole responsibility of the private lecturer to offer his teaching in such a way that it makes sense from his point of view.

What can the reader take away?

  1. With its decision, the VG Cologne further strengthens the organizational discretion of the universities in the area of the creation of the teaching offer, which is based on state university law, and at the same time sharpens the canon of rights and duties of private lecturers in this context. In doing so, it ultimately allows the interest of the private lecturer to take a back seat after summary examination and thus joins the similarly positioned decisions of the Bavarian Administrative Court (decision of June 3, 2002 – 7 CE 02.637) and the Munich Administrative Court (decision of December 10, 2013 – M 3 K 12.5227).
  2. According to the reasons for the decision of the Administrative Court of Cologne, the granting of the Venia Legendi for a specific subject does not in itself entitle the holder to the inclusion of a course from the respective subject in the curriculum of the university.
  3. However, a private lecturer – justified by Art. 5 para. 3 S. 1 GG – at least a right to have the course offered as part of his compulsory teaching included in the curriculum and to be provided with a room and, if necessary, further material resources. However, in the opinion of the court, this requirement is satisfied by the inclusion of the course in the course catalog.

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