The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) has called for higher education funding that stays abreast of the high demand for study places and concurrently secures internationally competitive frameworks for research and teaching at universities. To this end, the HRK General Assembly in Bielefeld proposed a "two pillars plus" model. This is designed to ensure that the amount of reliable basic funding increases.
In the recent past, fixed-term funding provided for specific purposes increased sharply, particularly through the Higher Education Pact. On average, this now constitutes almost one quarter of university budgets, which in turn has given rise to considerable structural problems. "In recent years, the focus of funding efforts of the State and Federal Governments has been on the provision of adequate student capacities. This must be acknowledged, but the long-term securing of future-oriented funding of teaching and research that would have enabled the creation of tenured academic positions in particular is lacking. What is more, the needs in the areas of construction, equipment, digitalisation, transfer, national licences and social infrastructure are striking. This jeopardises the future viability of universities. That is why a readjustment is now necessary, especially along the lines of a massive improvement in basic funding," said HRK President Prof Dr Horst Hippler in Berlin today.
The HRK is therefore calling for a "Pillar 1" of higher education funding, of which the core is permanent funding for teaching and research which permits the establishment of additional permanent positions, among other things. In any case, this "pillar" must be designed in such a way that at least staff and spatial capacity corresponding to the development of the student demand and the needs of internationally competitive university-based research can be safeguarded in the long term.
In "Pillar 2", universities should receive additional funding on a programme basis which serves to ensure both quality and future viability. The HRK stresses that programme funding must also support the competitiveness of small universities and different profiles/specialisations. However, it should have a much more limited scope compared to the future "Pillar 1".
The "plus" element provides for a Pact for Education, Research and Innovation which ensures an annual growth in funds of three percent, especially in Pillar 1.
"A Pact for Education, Research and Innovation is required in the interests of the entire German research system. It is necessary for keeping pace with development in the European and global framework, as well as for ending the imbalance in the funding of universities and non-university research institutions," said Hippler. "Should this fail, the entire German research system will find itself in an unstable position in the medium term. The national elections this year, the considerations of the State and Federal Governments for the configuration of the new article 91 b of the Basic Law and for the succession to the pacts are suitable starting points for setting the right course."
Text of the resolution