Higher Education Covenant continues until 2010 – question marks over the new solution
The Higher Education Covenant is an important step in the debate about the unique opportunity of training more academics by 2020. Calculations made by the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) show opportunities and limitations in the covenant.
The CHE has presented a statement concerning an agreement between the Federation and the Bundesländer in Germany regarding the Higher Education Covenant. The statement emphasises the importance of this development in the face of the demographic challenge which will be faced after 2020. Says Christian Berthold of the CHE: "The agreement is a considerable step forward. However, it raises questions concerning funding and steering. Even today it is clear that financing study places that are still to be created will require much more money than is being allocated by the Higher Education Covenant. If the logic of the calculations of the Higher Education Covenant is used for the predicted development of numbers of first year students, all necessary additional study places will require funding of almost 1.8 billion euros above the Federation's current allocation."
The figures predicted for the increase of student numbers mirror the fact that the higher education system will face its actual challenge after the Higher Education Covenant has expired in 2010. A tremendous increase in demand for additional study places is expected in particular for the years between 2010 and 2020, a period for which there are no regulations in the Higher Education Covenant. If the logic of the calculation of the Higher Education Covenant is lengthened until 2020, a funding amount of almost 7.3 billion euros will be required. This figure makes it clear that a new approach is required. The challenge cannot be met merely with an injection of money.
In addition to questions of finance, it is also not yet clear how different fields of study will be considered when developing study places. This question will determine the success of the Higher Education Covenant at the Bundesländer and higher education institution level. Not only quantitative questions need to be taken into account in this regard.
On December 13th, 2006, the Minister Presidents will decide about the agreement which was negotiated by Science Ministers on November 20th, 2006. By March 13th, 2007, the Bundesländer intend to present their package of measures to be implemented.
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