The reason for the event was the ongoing negotiations about the university funding agreement from 2021 to 2025, which has yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Prof. Wolfram Ressel, Rector at the University of Stuttgart, said that “Universities need significantly more funding to ensure the excellent level of education they provide”. In 2013, a university funding package was developed which was set to last until 2020. This was largely in response to the increased levels of funding required as a result of the rise in the number of students due to the high school reforms, which led to two year groups graduating in the same year. Unexpectedly though, the number of students has stabilized at this much higher level – which means that the increased level of funding needs to be maintained permanently, something which now has to be formalized in the funding package. “Universities strengthen our competitiveness and are essential for a sustainable future”, the rector made clear. He went on to say that the offer made by the state government was nowhere near enough to be able to educate the next generation of trained scientists as before, which the state needs to remain a high-tech powerhouse and remain competitive in the coming decades. “Underfunding universities weakens the economy and weakens the future of Baden-Württemberg”, Ressel said. He highlighted what the consequences would be if the state government didn’t act: “We will most likely have to make cuts.” These cuts could be made to the MINT college and other offers for new students. As well as the increase in basic funding of three percent a year, the university rectors from across the state say that 450 million euros of extra funding will be needed a year.
Theresa Bauer, the Minister of Science, Research and Arts in Baden-Württemberg, said she understood why the students were protesting. “It’s good for students to get involved for causes that matter to them, which in this case is universities getting the funding they need.” She also referred to the financial situation regarding the state budget. Bauer promised to advocate using the fines levied on the automotive industry to top up the basic funding.