Germany: union concerned over state proposals on fees and administration

published 10 January 2017 updated 12 January 2017

The Education International affiliate GEW has strongly criticised the plans of a Southwestern German state to introduce study fees and warns against a dilution of the participation of education staff in the decision-making process.

The Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft(GEW) branch in Baden-Württemberg is calling for a rally on 13 January against the state’s proposal to introduce study fees in certain cases. Science Minister Theresia Bauer plans to introduce fees for international students and students who are adding to their original qualifications, for example, a sociology Masters’ graduate who wants to study law. The union has also asked educators, parents, and concerned citizens to comment on the planned law via the government's participation portal and to support an online petition against this proposal.


The decision-making process within higher education institutions is also under threat as a result of a November 2016 decision of the Constitutional Court of Baden-Württemberg, according to the GEW. On the one hand, the Court criticised the wide-reaching powers of governing bodies (Rectorate, Dean's Office) in the framework of self-administration by elected collegial institutions. On the other hand, the Court said that university lecturers’ groups do not need to agree with representatives of other groups for some decisions, for those decisions to be taken. The constitutional verdict may have significance beyond the state of Baden-Württemberg, as a constitutional complaint is also pending in the German Federal Constitutional Court concerning this state’s law on higher education.


“The GEW is strongly committed to greater collaboration on decision-making and the involvement, not only of university lecturers, but also scientific and technology staff, administrators, and students,” stressed GEW President and Education International’s Vice-President for Europe Marlis Tepe. Her union further demands the participation of scientific assistants, teaching staff and doctoral students without an employment relationship in the university’s self-administration.