The system and content of BAföG (German Federal Training Assistance Act) no longer adequately reflects the reality of students' lives and fundamental reform is imperative. This was the analysis of the General Assembly of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), which met yesterday in a video conference.
In Berlin today, HRK President Prof Dr Peter-André Alt stated his views on this: "BAföG is key to equal opportunities in education. However, it was not only the pandemic that revealed gaps in funding. Current funding no longer accommodates the trend in rents and living costs and the much more diverse study pathways. This is not only a problem for those affected, it is also disastrous from a socio-political point of view. The amendments to BAföG in 2019 were a step in the right direction but were far from being sufficient.
In a resolution, the General Assembly lists five key points of the reform:
1. Parents' income and asset allowances must be assessed in a way that restores an adequate level of support. The target should be based at least on the original funding rate that was in place shortly after the introduction of BAföG 50 years ago. In 1972, 44.6 percent of students were supported by BAföG, today this figure is only twelve percent.
2. The eligibility criterion of the standard course duration should be relaxed in order to take account of the complex reality of life within a diverse student body. Only 33.6 percent of students graduated in around 2019 within the standard course duration, but 77 percent graduated within the standard course duration plus two semesters. Future funding should therefore cover the standard course duration plus two semesters.
3. The age limit should be dropped in order to promote socially desirable and necessary lifelong learning and to take account of changed education pathways and professional life.
4. BAföG should be opened up to part-time students and a flexible partial entitlement introduced.
5. BAföG should be supplemented by an emergency aid component for nationwide emergency situations, so that students who do not receive BAföG can also be helped pragmatically and quickly in individual cases.
View text of the resolution