Germans unite to scupper reforms

April 12, 2001

Thousands of German university professors have protested against government plans to reform salary structures and conditions of service.

In a four-page advert in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , nearly 4,000 appealed to the government to drop its reform plans.

An open letter to education minister Edelgard Bulmahn warns that top academics would leave the sector in droves if changes were implemented: "There is a growing danger that, in particular, young, highly qualified academics will turn their backs on the universities."

The advert, which cost about €120,000 (£74,700), was placed by the Hochschulverband, the association representing 18,000 university professors.

The reform proposes a system in which professors would receive between 70 and 80 per cent of their pay as a fixed basic salary The rest would be shared out by universities to reward the best teaching or research.

New junior professorships, limited to six years, would be open to academics as soon as they completed their doctorates, bypassing the need for a Habilitation, the postdoctoral thesis required to qualify as a professor, which takes an average of six years.

Junior professors would be paid only €3,000-3,250 gross per month, but would have the opportunity to work independently from their late 20s or early 30s.

They would later have the chance for promotion as a full professor with a basic minimum monthly salary of €3,500 and an average €1,000 to be negotiated according to performance.

The top professorial grade would offer a minimum basic of €4,250 plus an average €1,550 according to performance.

The Hochschulverband said the reform was a way of cutting professorial pay. They claimed it would cut starting salaries for newly appointed professors by €750 a month to a level "not commensurate with their office and their training".

Hartmut Schiedemair, association president, said Ms Bulmahn wanted to impose a senseless reform on lecturers.

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