After long negotiations, a new Hochschulvereinbarung was reached at the beginning of the year between the Behörde für Wissenschaft, Forschung, Gleichstellung und Bezirke (BWFGB). Repeated warnings from the student councils, the German Rectors' Conference, the Mittelbau and trade unions that this agreement would lead to drastic cuts in teaching and research were ignored or met with incomprehension on the part of the BWFGB.
Only a few months after the conclusion of the Hochschulvereinbarung , the LandesAStenkonferenz (LAK) observes with concern that the situation is deteriorating faster and stronger than expected. This is accompanied by mutual recriminations between the university presidencies, the authorities and the senate, as well as non-transparent allocation of resources and poor communication with students and employees.
The LAK would therefore like to create transparency and awareness as far as possible as to what recognizable consequences this has for Hamburg's universities:
Evangelische Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit
Small universities are particularly affected by the cuts, as even individual vacancies cannot be absorbed and thus jeopardize regular operations. At the Protestant University of Applied Sciences for Social Work, a full-time professorship and a course director cannot currently be filled, student housing has had to be downsized and necessary renovations cannot be made.
Hochschule für Musik und Theater
At the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (HfMT), there is currently a funding shortfall of €400,000, which, in addition to cuts in material resources, is particularly noticeable in personnel. Administrative positions have had to be reduced, vacant part-time professorships cannot be filled in the future, and the failure to fill two full-time professorships has meant that the drama program can no longer accept new students.
At HCU, the number of professorships has fallen from 55 to 40 in the last 10 years despite the number of students remaining the same. Around a quarter of these are temporary, which makes the planning uncertainty particularly clear. The cuts also affect the administrative area, which has been systematically cut back. As a result, there are no resources available to participate in teaching development, to support international students or, in some cases, to answer student questions at all.Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaft With the pandemic in mind, it is particularly alarming that at HAW the nursing program suffers especially from underfunding, is currently not even funded to cover requirements and is even endangered as a whole. Professorships will also have to be cut at HAW: savings will have to be made in some courses of study, with vacant professorships being subject to a staffing freeze for six months. While in one place the university has had to finance rental costs from its own reserves since 2013, in another place there is now a shortfall in rental costs for two years that the City of Hamburg does not want to cover. It is foreseeable that the laboratories will be less well equipped, that there will also be overloads in the IT area and the administration, and that courses will be cancelled.
University of Technology
At the TUHH, the discontinuation of the Higher Education Pact funding will further exacerbate the disparity between growth targets and funding allocation that has grown over the years. Since 1999, the number of students has more than doubled, while there are not even 50% more academic staff, and even fewer professorships. Seven planned professorships are now being eliminated, three of them in digital mechanical engineering, which runs counter to the contemporary development of the program. In addition, there are vacancies in WiMi, which lead to a massive additional workload for the remaining employees and are in turn accompanied by poorer equipment in the institutes and cuts in administrative staff. The situation is now so desolate that entire degree programs are threatened with closure.
University of Hamburg
Even the city's only comprehensive university, the University of Hamburg, can no longer compensate for the funding cuts itself. The lighthouse project ahoi.digital, which was launched by HAW, TUHH and UHH and was supposed to expand research and teaching in the field of computer science, has been abandoned by the city of Hamburg. The promised funds are completely cancelled and already hired professorships have to be financed from the own scarce funds. The Department of Computer Science at the UHH was ultimately forced to reduce the number of study places in Computer Science. The Psychology program is phasing out a significant number of students who cannot transfer to the Psychotherapy program due to the lack of post-graduate qualification and thus cannot work as psychotherapists. At the School of Law, study groups in which legal practice is taught in small groups are being eliminated from semesters four through six without replacement for the time being. The necessary reform of the teacher training program is not secured, and the conception of the master's program cannot be carried out in this way at present.
Effects on the scientific staff of the universities
Unfortunately, these are not all the consequences of the university agreement. Not all projects that are now facing their end can be listed here. It is also currently impossible to quantify how many positions of academic staff cannot be extended or refilled and where working time of administrative staff has to be reduced. The additional workload resulting from the supervision of ever larger seminar groups, the filling of vacancies in the teaching staff and less material resources is making university operations steadily less attractive. Even before the pandemic, work at the university was characterized by overtime, fixed-term contracts and excessive workloads. In conversations with staff and students, the anger is great, and yet it has become quiet. People don't want to get in front of other areas that are equally affected by Corona. This is what BWFGB accused those who publicly criticized the university agreement of doing. The aim is not to play different professional groups off against each other, but to make it clear that cuts in science are not a Corona-related phenomenon. The structural deficit at Hamburg's universities has existed for ten years now. The Senate has been acting irresponsibly for a long time - the current cuts merely mark the tipping point where teaching and research standards can no longer be maintained at the previous level. In order to secure regular operations now, all budget positions must be secured and be able to be refilled in a timely manner. Future pay increases must be compensated for, as must inflation.
Demands of the LandesAStenKonferenz
The universities must be financed in the long term and the cost gap of the last decade must be eliminated. Long-term damage is being done to the basic structures and reputation of universities that cannot be remedied by supplementary budgets. Universities are educational institutions, important for art and culture, for industry and business. They make Hamburg more attractive, more livable and are necessary for the development of our future. However, the Senate's austerity policy casts doubt on whether it still believes in Hamburg as a location for science beyond a few prestige projects.
The Hamburg LandesAStenKonferenz (LAK)
- AStA of the University of Hamburg
- AStA of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
- AStA of the Hamburg University of Technology
- AStA HafenCity University Hamburg
- AStA of the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg
- AStA of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg
- AStA of the Evangelischen Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit
- Grüne Jugend Hamburg
- Jusos Hamburg