German students have accused their medical professors of "teaching fraud" after an investigation at Hamburg University showed that 88 per cent do not teach the legal minimum of four hours a week.
A teaching evaluation group staffed by students and staff discovered that only nine out of 77 professors fulfilled their contracts.
Students calculated that they are being cheated out of 2,000 teaching hours per semester. The survey confirmed a popular view that "lazy professors" are a cause of university overcrowding.
Students' representatives stole a march on the university authorities by leaking the results to the press before the scheduled official release, and by publicly naming professors who do little teaching. They demanded disciplinary action.
Ute Watermann, a student representative on the research group, said: "If the professors did not take on so many private patients they would have more time for teaching."
The university - which instigated and funded the research group following a student occupation of the Eppendorf University Hospital in Hamburg two years ago - confirmed student figures that professors last year only fulfilled 53 per cent of the required teaching work. Individual lecturers have been informed of their teaching shortfall and advised to make up the difference within a year. But university spokesman Marion Schafft took issue with the students' claim that they lose 2,000 hours teaching per semester. She claimed it had been "deceitful" of students to name names.
She said: "The professors are not lazy. Unlike other university lecturers, who have to do research and teaching, medics also have a duty to look after patients."
But they are under fire from university students and the media who suspect many of them are flouting these responsibilities. As Beamte - civil servants - professors enjoy security of tenure and have survived attempts to curb their privileges.
Leonard Hajen, Hamburg's education minister, said: "If professors cannot do the work then they will have to go and work in the nearest hospital. "