With urgency, red-green-red wants to get the repair amendment to the Berlin Higher Education Act through the House of Representatives on Thursday. Tobias Schulze (left) justified this on Monday in the Science Committee, because the scientific staff whose positions the universities are currently “blocking” cannot wait until after the summer break.
It is about clarifications on paragraph 110, which obliges universities to offer certain postdocs permanent posts. But the students could not wait any longer – for the upcoming extension of the Corona regulation. This should allow examination and submission dates to be pushed back in the current summer semester.
The opposition in the Science Committee had no objection to the facilitation for students in the first attendance semester, which was by no means running smoothly, after two years of online teaching due to the pandemic. But the draft resolution and the urgency for Paragraph 110 visibly outraged the CDU, FDP and AfD.
“You violate the constitution and labor law,” said CDU MP Adrian Grasse to the government factions. As reported, the CDU and FDP see this as confirmed by two reports, most recently by the Scientific Parliamentary Service of the House of Representatives, which acted at the request of the CDU parliamentary group.
This report sees §110 as contradicting the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of science and the Federal Science Contract Act (WissZeitVG). The scientific parliamentary service repeated this view again in a short report at the request of the AfD parliamentary group, which the parliamentary group received on June 16 and is available in the Tagesspiegel.
It says very succinctly that the area of activity of the universities protected in Article 5, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law also includes “the promotion of young scientists”. Doing this continuously therefore presupposes that subsequent generations can always be hired again and again for temporary jobs.
The Parliamentary Service concludes: The obligation under the new Berlin Higher Education Act to employ appropriately qualified scientific staff for an unlimited period is “an encroachment on academic freedom that does not appear constitutionally justified”.
The clarification in the repair amendment, according to which third-party funded employees are expressly excluded, does not change this. Because the vast majority are employed from the universities’ own funds, the lawyers determine.
This is how university expert Tobias Schulze from the left calculated it: Of the 12,245 scientific employees at Berlin universities, 5000 are postdocs and of them a third are third-party funded employees.
However, the remaining 3354 budget-financed postdocs, which are the subject of §110, accounted for only five to ten percent of all employees in the mid-level faculty. “You can’t say that something is clogged somewhere,” said Schulze.
Perhaps more serious are the concerns of the Scientific Parliamentary Service regarding the legislative competence of the State of Berlin: The WissZeitVG and the special fixed-term law in science regulated therein, which “ensures the fluctuation of scientific employees”, represent a “final federal regulation”.
Red-Green-Red remained undeterred by these repeated concerns. One relies on a legal opinion from the Bundestag and on another from the constitutional lawyer Rosemarie Will, which come to opposite views. In addition, the Senate wants to wait for the upcoming new review by the Federal Constitutional Court.
The former President of Humboldt University, Sabine Kunst, initiated this in December 2021 as the last official act with a constitutional complaint against the Higher Education Act.
Tobias Schulze emphasized that the expert opinions on the constitutionally guaranteed “fluctuation” among young scientists have so far based on a judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of 1993. In the meantime, however, there is a much greater differentiation in the middle faculty and a “great need for permanent positions”.
Now it is a matter of “clarification and modernization of the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court”. This is what Red-Green-Red is banking on – and therefore sees no reason not to allow this part of the new university law to come into force.
CDU MP Grasse described the hope for a revised verdict as the “last blade of grass” to which one is clinging. But his request to return to the status quo before the amendment of September 2021 for the time limits after the doctorate was rejected, as was the AfD request to make the mandatory provision for connection points an optional provision.
According to Schulze, the clarifications provided by the repair amendment should also include the fact that people who are hired for “university lectureships” may in future bear the academic title of professor – if they have the appropriate qualifications, such as a habilitation.
In addition, the right to award doctorates for the universities of applied sciences should now also apply to the church universities in Berlin.