The traffic light has big ideas for science and education. As a result, the student loan system will undergo significant changes. However, the coalition agreement is still ambiguous in other areas.

Germany : Education and science traffic light schemes —EUROPEANS24
[Berlin, Germany]

The SPD, Greens, and FDP have now agreed to a high education surcharge,which the coalitionists had expected. "Through inclusive education, we wish to provide all individuals, regardless of their origin, the finest educational possibilities, enable participation and progress, and secure them," states the introduction to the coalition agreement's education chapter, which is the fifth of eight.

Under the headline "Education and Opportunities for All," the federal government claims that it wishes to considerably expand education spending "along with the federal states" - via long-term assistance that is clearly aimed at achieving its objectives. This might be a hint of a planned modification to the Basic Law, which would allow the federal government to co-finance schools that are truly a state affair even more than previously. And all of this with tighter financial oversight.

A working committee made up of federal, state, and municipal governments will look at the need and potential for this. "Structure and increase collaboration, and guarantee that the goals are met," the working group should say. The negotiations will begin with an education summit, which will not be the first of its type.

Special assistance will be provided to schools in economically deprived areas, the digital agreement will be reprinted in a "2.0" edition, and the student loan system will be significantly changed. The coalition's mission is to "set the groundwork for a decade of educational possibilities."

Disadvantaged schools 

A program that invests in 4,000 general and vocational schools with a large percentage of socially disadvantaged students to make them "modern, climate-friendly, and barrier-free" is at the heart of this. They should also be provided with a "modern learning environment and creative laboratories."

These schools might be given a "opportunity fund" to use at their leisure to expand teaching and learning opportunities and engage in extracurricular collaboration. Additional school social workers will be hired for these and around 4,000 other schools in underserved areas and neighborhoods.

Digital Pact 2.0 for schools 

The digital agreement for schools, which had been temporary until now, will now be made permanent. This should apply to the "long-term procurement of new hardware, the replacement of obsolete technology, and device maintenance and administration," for example. The reason that the extension would initially last until 2030 is explained by the Basic Law, which stipulates that federal education funding must be time-limited. It should begin with a type of acceleration level for the existing digital accord, in which the allocation of cash is stagnating, as is well known.

Bafög reform

With regards to advancing preparing - not only for understudies - the SPD recipe has won that it turns out to be "less subject to guardians" . A "ensured sum inside the structure of essential youngster benefits" (once: kid benefit) is arranged, which in future will be paid out to grown-ups in preparing and studies - and no longer to their folks as was beforehand the situation.

The state financing that goes past this will be transformed with higher expense exceptions for guardians' pay, higher age limits for those getting subsidizing and expanded financing. The endowment rates are likewise to be brought up in perspective on rising lodging costs and changed "all the more routinely" to the increasing typical cost for basic items. Also, there is an "crisis system", which has been called for in the crown pandemic however has been dismissed by the CDU-drove Federal Ministry of Education, with which everything understudies can get cash in crisis circumstances the nation over.

Another unique aspect of Bafög is the eventual restoration to the early years' interest-free complete loan. It is said that "a decrease in the loan component" will be requested at first for this reason. With a new study start aid, the alliance seeks to help students from benefit communities, i.e., families with an ALG II link.

First reactions from politics

What are the potential costs of the new and modified school and university programs? According to Oliver Kaczmarek (SPD), the specialists of the three parties would have "ideas of where we want to go, and the top group also understands that." For example, in the case of the digital agreement for schools, an initial six-year extension should be funded "in the same order of magnitude as previously." A total of 6.5 billion euros will be spent from 2019 to 2024, with a rise in the corona crisis.

According to Kaczmarek, the goal for underprivileged schools is to go far beyond the research initiative "School Makes You Strong," which will run from 2020 to 2030 and cover 200 schools. "We want to help as many schools as possible, not only lighthouses," said the group.

"The future coalition members would have recognized the right construction sites" in the case of student loans, says Matthias Anbuhl, Secretary General of the German Student Union. State student funding "must be strengthened," says Anbuhl.

Hopefully for a true "educational awakening," I agree that the federal government, in collaboration with the federal states, should resume encouraging affordable housing for students and trainees. A "goal of at least 100,000 student dormitory places by 2030," according to the Juso university organizations.

The coalition should also be "awakened in terms of educational policy," according to Jens Brandenburg (FDP). The Digital Pact 2.0, the fundamental reform of student loans, the increased investment in university teaching, the new "life opportunities student loan," and a "excellence program for vocational training" all contribute to this: "Regardless of social background, the purpose is to provide the finest educational possibilities for everyone."

The traffic light intends to "spark new technical, digital, social, and sustainable inventive strength," as the coalition agreement puts it, in science policy. Six huge, "core" study subjects have been selected to this goal, but they are so wide that they encompass nearly the whole research field.

The future pact for university places is being made more dynamic

The future pact for university places will be "dynamized" as early as 2022, which means the federal government will increase its financial resources year after year. This is a key requirement of universities and many federal states. The universities will benefit greatly from this increased financing.

Previously, this was solely reserved for non-university research pacts, which had a three percent yearly increase. The future accord, however, has yet to be given a particular number.

A digital pact for universities

A government "digital university" initiative, similar to the digital pact for schools, will be developed to encourage concepts for expanding creative teaching, certification measures, digital infrastructures, and cybersecurity. This software, too, has yet to be "priced." The traffic light also offers further funding for science in other ways, although without elaborating: There will be additional money for clusters under the Excellence Initiative, and the German Research Foundation's program flat-rate will be boosted. What can be heard, though, is that the financial politicians have reached an accord on large quantities of money.

Another focus in science is working conditions: one of the most pressing concerns now being considered is better career routes for researchers. The traffic light promises improvements, but the details are also sketchy. The law governing science contracts will be changed. The contract states, "We intend to considerably raise the plannability and commitment in the post-doctoral period and develop opportunities for alternative vocations at an eaapplications

Concentrate on research that is relevant to applications

Doctoral roles should have contracts that correspond to the overall planned project period. The traffic light intends to "work toward" permanent roles in science for permanent responsibilities. The tenure track program will be consolidated and enlarged, and the program for female academics will be bolstered.

Application-oriented research: There is a major emphasis on the transmission of science to the corporate world. In order to do this, a "German Agency for Transfer and Innovation" (DATI) will be established to promote social and technological innovations, particularly at technical schools and small and medium-sized universities, in collaboration with start-ups and other businesses and organizations. The federal government wants to make it easier for university spin-offs to succeed. A "German Tech Transfer Fund" has been established to assist patents in achieving a greater market breakthrough.

The joy of the "traffic light chapter" for science

Kai Gehring (Greens) regards his negotiating team's initiatives as "clearly mapped" and refers to science as having a "traffic light chapter." "We are greatly reinforcing universities, establishing an innovation agency, setting the tone for a larger idea of innovation, making a clear commitment to fundamental research, and raising national research and development investment to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2025," adds Gehring.

Even though particular initiatives do not have "price tags," there is a lot in the formula to halt the "decoupling of universities and non-universities." "This is the foundation for the three percent yearly rise in the future contract," Gehring said, adding that the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are also involved in the dynamic process.

The planned, officially financed pilot projects for diversity management, new governance structures, and alternative career routes at universities are examples of initiatives to which all three parties have contributed equally. The Greens also helped to enhance the program for female professors. "It all pays off in 'excellent work' - and in the needed overhaul of the Science Temporary Contract Act," Gehring argues. "A substantial revision following the review in 2022" is possible.

Overall, Oliver Kaczmarek feels that all three groups may be "quite happy" with their education and scientific chapters (SPD). For example, in the "excellent working conditions" in science and on the road back to the full Bafög loan, a true SPD signature can be detected.
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