“We do not assume that there will be funding for the Humanistic University.” Senator Ulrike Gote (Greens) made her point of view very clear in the current hour of the Science Committee on Monday. When asked by the CDU MP Adrian Grasse, she said: “If we consider the university to be subject to approval, that does not mean that we will also finance it.” So in all likelihood no funding from the state for the Humanistic University in Berlin ( HHB)?
From autumn she wants to start a bachelor’s degree in social work and master’s programs in humanistic life skills and applied ethics. To this end, she demands institutional funding from the Senate, which requires equal treatment with denominational universities of applied sciences, whose grants are regulated by the university contracts with the state.
However, the state of Berlin does not see the need for equal treatment, as can be seen from a recent response from State Secretary for Science Armaghan Naghipour to a written request from Adrian Grasse: A right to equal treatment “does not exist after examination by an external expert,” the letter says from June 15, which is available to the daily mirror.
The report is said to have come from the House of the Senate Church Commissioner. This is contradicted by a contrary expertise for the Humanist Association, as stated there.
A political decision by the Senate “in the light of the two reports” is now required, says Mark Rackles (SPD), former Secretary of State for Education and member of the HHB founding directorate, at the request of the Tagesspiegel. Above all, however, Rackles is “surprised that Ms. Gote did not know the status of the financing”.
In fact, on June 13, the main committee of the HHB approved 600,000 euros for 2022 and one million euros for 2023 – “in order to advance the urgently needed further expansion of study place capacities in the field of social work in Berlin”.
After that, the CDU MP Grasse asked the Science Committee. Senator Ulrike Gote did not mention this project funding, which the governing coalition had tabled as an amendment to the main committee. Your clear rejection was obviously a future institutional funding. Her house did not answer a corresponding question from this newspaper on Tuesday.
In the meantime, the humanistic university has cleared a major hurdle for state recognition in Berlin: the HHB passed the concept review procedure by the Science Council with an overall positive vote. According to Rackles, there are only two conditions regarding the start-up financing that has now been secured and ideological neutrality.
The start-up initiative “presented its motivation in a comprehensible manner” and “presented appropriate plans for the start-up phase and for the transition to regular operation,” the HHB quoted the Science Council in a statement on Monday evening.
In turn, the vote of the Science Council is the basis for a Senate decision on state recognition of the university. That’s what Naghipour replied to Grasse, and the scientific administration confirmed it on Tuesday. This brings us full circle with Senator Gote’s statement that approval does not have to result in any funding.
So things go up and down for the humanists, while a location has already been found in the former Australian GDR embassy in Pankow. When the initiative became public in 2020, the SPD was fully behind it, and State Secretary for Science Steffen Krach also campaigned for the foundation. But the Greens, who are more close to the church, voted at a party conference against supporting the Humanistic University. Nevertheless, the project found its way into the new red-green-red coalition agreement.
With the “green light” from the Science Council, one is “finally on the home straight and highly motivated to push ahead with the development of the first humanistic university in Germany,” said board member Katrin Raczynski. Only the coming months will show how much Senate help the HHB will get to the end.