In the past year, the CDU and the FDP have decisively contested their election campaigns with the topics "education" and "freedom". However, an open, free exchange within the universities does not seem to be the goal of the education policy of the resulting state government. We take this from the key issues paper on an amendment to the Higher Education Act (url.nrw/HG) as well as the later published draft bill on the new Higher Education Act (www.landtag.nrw.de/Dokumentenservice/portal/WWW/dokumentenarchiv/Dokument/MMV17-784.pdf). Included in the draft bill is the lifting of the ban on mandatory attendance, the massive restriction of student participation in higher education, and the introduction of study course agreements. For the state government, freedom does not mean freedom for students, but the freedom for universities and to restrict student participation. The student representatives of the state of NRW (Landes-ASten-Treffen NRW) strongly and decisively reject most of the changes for the new Higher Education Act that directly affect the students (for more details see the explanatory statement).
AStA der Universität Münster, AStA der Universität Duisburg-Essen, AStA der FH Aachen, AStA der Universität Bielefeld, AStA der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, AStA der Universität Bonn, AStA der HHU Düsseldorf, AStA der FernUniversität Hagen, AStA der Hochschule Rhein-Waal, AStA der SpoHo Köln, AStA der Universität zu Köln, AStA der Hochschule Niederrhein, AStA der Hochschule Ruhr-West, AStA der Bergischen Universität Wuppertal, AStA der FH Düsseldorf, AStA der Universität Münster, AStA der RWTH Aachen, AStA der Universität Siegen, AStA der Universität Paderborn, AStA der TU Dortmund, AStA Westfälische Hochschule, AStA FH Bielefeld, Campusgrün NRW, GEW Studierende NRW, freier Zusammenschluss von StudentInnenschaften, Juso-Hochschulgruppen NRW, DGB NRW
Lifting of the ban on mandatory attendance The draft bill proposes deleting the provision in §64 (2a): §64 (2a) "A compulsory participation of students in courses may not be regulated as a prerequisite for participation in examinations, unless the course is regarded as an excursion, a language course, an internship, a practical exercise or a similar course."
We emphatically reject the fact that compromises are suspended again. It turns out that the students are particularly motivated and interested in lectures, exercises, and seminars when the quality of teaching is sufficiently revolutionized by evaluations and improvements. The current Higher Education Act already covers exemptions for scientific discourse. Therefore, the LAT calls for the retention of the existing rules, which oblige the lecturers to have their lectures checked for meaningful mandatory attendance by the Examination Board.
2. Restriction of student participation
From the point of view of the LAT, democratic quarrels at eye level are the best quality assurance instead of top-down governing, especially when more and more universities are turning to system accreditation. This is the only way to ensure a thorough debate involving all perspectives. That is why we call for the equal representation of all senates and the replacement of the economically dominated university councils by advisory civil society boards. The decision-making powers should be transferred to the Senate. Rather than silencing the study councils by giving universities the option of abolishing them, or restricting their rights, their mandate should be sharpened: they should not merely "advise" the deanery, but systematically evaluate the programs and develop proposals for their further development.
3. Abolishment of the SHK councils
Good working conditions are the basis for good cooperation between student assistants and university institutions. These include adequate work requirements, fair pay, and transparent and reliable contractual fundamentals. Therefore, a staff representation of SHKs (Studentische Hilfskräfte) is and remains necessary. An SHK representation needs a legal anchoring, which enables engagement at eye level. One option for improvement would be to integrate the SHK council into the staff councils.
4. Good working conditions at universities
It is still necessary for a code of good employment at universities to stipulate the conditions under which professors, scientific staff, technicians, and staff in the administration, as well as student assistants, find adequate work requirements, fair pay and transparent and reliable contractual conditions. This is partially realized in the current framework “code of good employment conditions”.
5. Introduction of Online-Self-Assessments
Another measure to reduce the drop-out rate will in the future be legally underlined online self-assessments. These digital tests are to be established nationwide. If the university chooses this variant of the test, they can deny enrollment to prospective students who have not passed the test. A university entrance qualification must be sufficient to be able to study any course. If the state government sees additional demand, this is not due to the future students, but to the previously visited schools. We reject tests which are aimed at or will lead prospective students to keep away from higher education.
6. Introduction of binding study course agreements
One of the measures to reduce drop-out rates are the so-called "binding study course agreements". The model proposed in the bill is as follows: After half of the standard period of study, students must take a mandatory counseling interview if they have not yet collected 1/3 of the credit points. During the consultation, an agreement should then be signed on how the further course of studies will be structured. What happens when this agreement is broken is nowhere defined.
7. Civil clause / Peace clause
The Key Issues Paper aims to remove the obligation of higher education institutions to contribute to sustainability, peace, and democracy, while at the same time attracting large amounts of third party funding for defense and security research. For many students, however, it is a matter of the heart that sustainability, peace and democracy should be part of the self-concept of research and teaching.
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