HRK on admission to medicine: Solution must not cost universities their autonomy

24. May 2018

“If the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling is accommodated, but at the same time the autonomy of higher education is curtailed, this would do a great disservice to higher education.” This was the concern expressed by HRK President Horst Hippler today in Berlin ahead of the meeting of the University Committee of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK) this Tuesday.

He said that the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) is very concerned that the KMK is considering a suspension of the university admission procedure (AdH. “This would be an unacceptable diminution of university autonomy,” Hippler said. The education ministers are faced with the task of complying with the Constitutional Court’s criticism of the existing process for admission to medicine by the end of 2019. This will involve signing a new treaty between the federal states. There is currently talk of a simplified transition arrangement.

“We do not want a ‘transition period’ at the expense of university participation and for an indefinite period,” the HRK President said. “The core study areas of the particular university should also be taken into account in admission. That is in the interests of both applicants and faculties. The technical problems at the Trust for Higher Education Admissions must be resolved. The Conference of Medical Faculties and the German Medical Students’ Association share this assessment.”

In its ruling, the Federal Constitutional Court had expressly emphasised that universities have the right to formulate specific discipline-based aspects and define core areas in suitability criteria. The HRK Vice-President for Medical Studies in Higher Education and Health Sciences, Prof Dr Johanna Weber, also made this point. “The universities’ selection procedure must not be sacrificed for the sake of technical (software) considerations. A transitional solution without AdH that is dubbed interim can quickly become established as a permanent solution. This would mean regressing to the era of central study place allocation.”

In relation to the planned abolition of the waiting period quota, Weber said: “This was something explicitly requested by the HRK in the hearing before the KMK University Committee. Waiting in itself is not a meaningful admission criterion. Suitability is the crucial factor. If a range of aptitude criteria are taken into account along with the school leaving examination grade, however, this can also increase the opportunity for applicants without top school leaving examination grades.” The HRK fundamentally supports an admission procedure that combines several suitable criteria, as is provided for in the Conference of Medical Faculties and the German Medical Students’ Association model. Along with the school leaving examination grade, the introduction of uniform, Germany-wide validated testing procedures and some limited consideration of social skills and prior professional experience are crucial.

The University Committee is charged with developing key points for a new treaty between the federal states for the KMK on 14/15 June in accordance with the ruling by the German Constitutional Court on 19 December 2017.

The joint statement by the German Medical Students´ Association (bvmd) and the Conference of Medical Faculties (MFT) can be found on the websites of bvmd and MFT (in German only).