Science council versus finance minister: bargaining for billions

The Science Council wants more money for universities. In an internal letter, the finance ministers oppose ambitious figures.

Less money means above all nothing good for them, the students. Picture: dpa

More money for universities – that’s what the Science Council, the most important political advisory body on these issues, demanded last week. An internal letter obtained by the taz now shows how rabidly the finance ministers previously fought off overly ambitious spending targets.

In the letter, the treasury watchdogs warn of additional spending for the state and the economy of allegedly 40 billion euros a year. "The emerging recommendation of the Science Council fills us with concern," it says.

Recipients of the letter include Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka (CDU) and her Rhineland-Palatinate counterpart Doris Ahnen (SPD). The science ministers are part of the Science Council.

The finance ministers call on their cabinet colleagues "to ensure that the Science Council focuses in its recommendation practice on the development of the content and structure of the German science system in accordance with the task assigned to it." The funding proposals were correspondingly vague.

The warning letter was prompted by considerations to increase private and public spending on education and research to 11.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2020. The Council of Science and Humanities thus wanted to take up a recommendation formulated by a group of advisors to the German government in the spring.

So far, the federal and state governments have only targeted an increase in spending to 10 percent by 2015. Three percent is to flow into research, seven into education.

Tobias Schulze, spokesman for the Left Party’s federal science working group, criticizes the haggling: "Apparently, the finance ministers have put on the handbrake. This does not bode well for the coming years."

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