Institutions of higher education in Germany are facing great challenges. The number of young people qualified to enter university is set to increase significantly by 2020. At the same time, international competition demands that universities put a greater emphasis on research. In order to maintain the performance of institutions of higher education and give more new entrants access to university, the Federal Government and the Länder have agreed on the Higher Education Pact 2020.
With the Higher Education Pact 2020, the Federal Government and the Länder want to invest additional funds to expand study opportunities, thereby providing a suitable solution to the increasing demand for higher education. This is the central conclusion reached at the meeting of the Joint Science Conference (GWK) in April 2013. The final decision was made the Federal Chancellor and leaders of the Länder Governments on 13 June 2013.
The Federal Government is increasing funds for the Higher Education Pact 2020 by 2.2 billion euros to a total of over 7 billion euros between 2011 and 2015. The Länder will also contribute comparable additional funds to secure the total finances. To complete the second phase of the Pact, an additional 2.7 billion euros of Federal funding is planned until 2018. This is 1.7 billion euros more than previously stipulated. In times when finances are tight, this decision of the Federal Government and the Länder demonstrates a clear commitment to education and research in Germany.
According to projections published by the KMK in January 2012, around 300 000 more university entrants that previously predicted are expected in the second programme phase of the Higher Education Pact 2020 between 2011 and 2015. Consequently, the Federal Government and the Länder now want to finance an additional 625,000 university entrants in this time period. This is twice as many as originally stipulated in 2009. Institutions of higher education are thus receiving a clear signal to initiate the steps necessary to expand study opportunities. The additional study opportunities ensure that students in our country, as well as interested students from abroad, are able to pursue their desired courses of study.
With the Higher Education Pact 2020, the Federal Government and the Länder had already begun to react to the increasing number of university entrants following the double "Abitur" year by enabling a need-oriented expansion of study opportunities. In previous years, they have adjusted the Pact to meet actual developments (most recently in 2011 with compensation for the results of the elimination of mandatory military or civil service) and made additional funds available. The Higher Education Pact is to run until 2020.
Providing one-off payments for research projects supported by the DFG is sustainably strengthening university research and increasing universities' ability to develop new strategies. Previously, universities had to cover addition indirect cost for successful external projects out of their own financial resources. Now they receive an additional lump sum of 20 per cent of the project cost, while still maintaining room to maneuver. This important instrument for higher education funding has also been extended for five years. As before, the financing costs incurred are to be entirely covered by the Federal Government: about 1.7 billion euros by 2015.
On 4 June 2009, the heads of the Federal Government and the Länder agreed on a continuation of the Higher Education Pact. According to the draft agreement, the Pact - which is designed to run until 2020 - is being extended for a second phase until the end of 2015. It includes a programme for the admission of new university entrants and a programme for the provision of one-off payments for research projects supported by the DFG (overhead).
With the Higher Education Pact, the Federal Government and the Länder have created a demand-based solution for dealing with the 275,000 additional university entrants expected between 2011 and 2015. In the second programme phase, the costs per additional university entrant will increase from 22,000 euros to 26,000 euros, of which the Federal Government will provide 13,000 euros. The Länder will take on general funding responsibility. This means that in the second programme phase, there will be an additional 4000 euros available per student (compared to the first programme phase). This increase is also intended as a contribution towards improving teaching quality. The Länder will also take on responsibility for expanding the so-called MINT subjects and for promoting equal opportunities for women.
The second programme phase of the Higher Education Pact will continue to take the special situations of the city-states and the new Länder into account.
German universities need to make a bigger international name for themselves as research institutions. They must enhance their research intensity and excellence despite the challenges posed by the increasing number of students. This challenge is addressed through the second pillar of the Higher Education Pact: the provision of one-off payments (overhead).
As in the Higher Education Pact I, the Federal Government will fund 100 percent of the one-off payments for research projects supported by the DFG, which will amount to 20 per cent of the project costs. This will make an additional 1.7 billion euros available to universities. After an evaluation at the end of 2013, this special funding will be reviewed with the aim of introducing a joint financing of the one-off payments by the Federal Government and the Länder that is better suited to the DFG.
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