It's still there, freedom, but it's no longer at the top of the agenda.

When Angela Dorn (The Greens) speaks about the amendment to the Hessian Higher Education Act, other terms dominate: reliability, strategic ability, equal opportunities, participation.

At least once in the press release that the Minister of Science sent out last week to present the draft law, the word autonomy appears.

Significantly, referring to the politics of the past two decades: innovations aimed at strengthening autonomy and competition have proven their worth;

one wants to build on it.

Sascha Zoske

Journalist in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

  • Follow I follow

    However, it is not only the FDP in the state parliament that doubts that this will succeed with the draft bill for the new version of the law.

    A warning can also be heard from the boardrooms of the universities that the rights of the universities to regulate their affairs independently and efficiently would be restricted rather than strengthened by the amendment.

    On the one hand, it is about the feared weakening of the executive committees vis-à-vis other university bodies, but also concerns about an excessive reporting bureaucracy, which is promoted by the changes in the law.

    The harmony phase could now be over

    The warners do not want to be quoted by name. Nor is it a storm of indignation that is now breaking over Dorn. The objections are noteworthy because they could mark the end of the harmony phase, in which the open-mindedness and conciliation of the minister was praised at every opportunity - and because the criticism also comes from people who are not suspected of a neoliberal attitude.

    The obvious innovations that Dorn highlighted when the draft was presented are not offensive - such as the expansion of part-time studies, the creation of university lectureships with a focus on teaching, or the obligation to document the search for suitable women when filling chairs.

    The part-time clause is read as an "optional provision", the regulation on the advancement of women is assessed as "comparatively liberal".

    "Politicians mistrust us"

    What the critics mainly dislike are additional evaluation and documentation tasks, such as those formulated in the paragraph on quality assurance and reporting. In the future, the universities should, among other things, examine more closely why students drop out of their studies and show how they succeed in training the next generation of scientists. One observer sees the planned changes as the continuation of a legislative trend that has been observable for a long time - regardless of the party book of the respective science minister. “The cleverly camouflaged reporting requirements have increased a lot and tie up an enormous amount of energy.” Another voice concludes from this development: “Obviously there is a mistrust of politicians towards us.”

    Other clauses in the draft bill are seen by the executive committees as an attempt to reduce their weight in relation to university bodies. In this sense, for example, the upgrading of the study commissions is interpreted, which were previously only responsible for distributing the tuition fee substitute funds and are now also to help prepare general decisions on teaching. Some interpret the rule that the Senate must approve the university development plans from now on as a vote of no confidence in the university management - until now it only had to comment on it.