The key framework for university funding between 2021 and 2025 has been put in place with the signing of the university funding agreement.
The Rector of the University of Stuttgart, Prof. Wolfram Ressel, gave his opinion after months of negotiations came to an end. “The university funding agreement for 2021-2025 gives universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg – including the University of Stuttgart – the great advantage of planning security. The agreement reached today is reasonable and important, because the state’s tax revenue looks set to decline as a consequence of the corona crisis. This means that we will largely be able to avoid any financial uncertainties or serious disadvantages for the next five years. Even so, we won’t be able to maintain the increases in our budget which were necessary over the past few years. On the contrary, we need to be prepared to make savings."
“We drove a hard bargain in the interests of our students, teaching staff and researchers”, said the Rector of the University of Hohenheim Prof. Stephan Dabbert, the newly-elected Chairman of the State Rectors’ Conference. He greeted the signing of the agreement, which puts university funding in the next few years on a stable footing. “This means that we will maintain our ability to work and to a considerable extent also our ability to plan, and can now concentrate on returning to studying and teaching over the next few months at a similar capacity to before the restrictions imposed on us by the corona crisis, in part by using new approaches. It’s a sign of confidence that the state is showing how much we can depend on it by signing the agreement despite the financial stresses caused by the corona crisis.”
He thanked the state of Baden-Württemberg, and in particular the students as well as the many people involved on behalf of the universities, for fighting to ensure that the universities will continue to offer a positive environment for research and teaching in the future.
Specific agreements on university funding
The universities recognize the efforts made by the state in providing a total of EUR 1.8 billion in additional funds for the university system during the duration of the contract term. The increase in basic funding of three percent a year, which means the universities have EUR 380 million to cover increases in staff salaries between 2021 and 2025 as well as EUR 300 million to cover inflationary adjustments and additional cost increases, will go towards maintaining the high standards currently being achieved.
He says that the additional funding of EUR 15.6 million per year is to be welcomed, but is not enough to cover the funding requirements, particularly relating to the digitization of teaching and research. The urgency of this issue is being brought to the fore once again by current developments.
The impact of the additional funding at state level, which is to be welcomed, is countered significantly by developments at federal and EU level. The Chairman of the State Rectors’ Conference listed the planned VAT reform, e-invoices and an ever more complicated public procurement law as examples of issues which may potentially put a strain on university budgets amounting to millions of euros.
Funding should ensure research strength
The newly-elected Deputy Chairman of the Rectors’ Conference and Rector of the University of Mannheim, Prof. Thomas Puhl, welcomed the news that the state will continue to fully fund its share of the successful projects carried out by the previous Excellence Initiative.
The Chairman said that universities would now do all in their power to continue their study programs and ensure the right conditions for successful research. He went on to say that the full force of the universities’ research strength was now required to find ways to combat the coronavirus, but also to moderate the social and economic impact that the crisis is producing around the world.