Meanwhile in Halle
The threat of cuts in higher education and reasons why students are taking to the street
Since 2000 Martin Luther University has had to face repeated financial cuts. Saxony-Anhalt justifies these cuts by referring to prognoses predicting a decline in student numbers. But actually the numbers of students enrolled at universities in Saxony-Anhalt have more than doubled over the last 20 years.
The Minister of Finance, Jens Bullerjahn, lately announced the plans to reduce higher education funding by €5 million per year, which would add up to €275 million by 2025. The University is now planning to cut costs to counteract the drop in revenue.
„Halle bleibt»- Halle stays
There were protests all over Saxony-Anhalt which were only disrupted by the 2013 floods. Many citizens of Halle were worrying about the negative effects the cuts might have on the regional economy and community. Even the university presidents struck a more serious tone.
The alliance for action „shaping perspectives» consisting of student and staff associations of Halle University, trade unions and political university groups initiated the nationwide strike on education („Bildungsstreik 2014») under the motto „Halle stays!».
At the MLU, the institutes of psychology, informatics, geosciences, sports science, and communication and media science were supposed to be closed down completely or partly, as well as some unspecified «minor subjects«. MLU President Udo Sträter explained that the constant saving endangers primarily those institutes whose professors are going to retire soon. In addition, there are plans to preserve only one Studienkolleg (preparatory course for international applicants wanting to study at a German university) throughout Saxony-Anhalt, namely the one in Köthen.
After an agreement between government and presidents the goal of cutting was reduced from €275m by 2025 to €24m by 2019.
Because abstract numbers turned into concrete suggestions for cuts again this year, thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate. This unsettled the government in Magdeburg. There have been negotiations and contradictions about cuts. Nothing concrete has been decided.
The pressure in the university senates is rising and the solidarity amongst the professors is not as pronounced as in the student protest movement.
For the time being, university presidents are sticking by the compromise they have agreed on and they intend to undertake structural cuts. The government is certainly keen to keep the subject out of the electoral campaign but if the universities do not comply, minister Möllring has threatenend to implement the cuts by law.
At the moment there is still enough money, but that isn’t our rescue. So the „Aktionsbündnis MLU» still fears that our university will have to face unnecessary damage.
translated by students from the »Advanced Translation« Course at the MLU department for English studies. Special thanks to Marjorie Willey.