Baden-Württemberg’s state universities and higher educational institutions have ensured planning security for the next five years. On 1 April 2020, they signed the Higher Education Funding Agreement with the state. From 2021 to 2025 – after deduction of personnel costs, the state universities will receive an additional sum total of nearly 396.5 million euros. Meanwhile, a total of 1.8 billion euros of supplementary funding will be spent on the entire state higher educational system during the same period. “We negotiated with the Science Ministry for a long time and fought for adequate financing – alongside of researchers, teachers, administrative and technical staff, and especially intensively, in conjunction with students,” says the University of Freiburg rector, Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. The effort was worth it, he continues, even if a few of the universities’ core demands went unmet. Now the universities will have a reliable basis for continuing to equip themselves for the challenges of the future, the rector adds. “My thanks goes to the state of Baden-Württemberg. Especially in these times, in which the corona pandemic is generating high levels of uncertainty in research, higher education, and teaching, the signed agreement symbolizes optimism and stability,” Schiewer emphasizes.
The universities successfully asserted key demands in the negotiations. The state has anchored resources from expansion programs in basic financing. An additional achievement, says Schiewer, was a three percent annual rate of increase in basic financing, even though 56 percent of this growth will go towards rises in personnel costs. According to the rector, especially positive is that the excellence facilities, the BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies, BrainLinks-BrainTools, and the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM) – pending positive evaluation of these institutes – have been written into the basic budget along with the School of Education (FACE).
Yet for the University of Freiburg, 2.1 million euros yearly of additional support for research, administration, and technology are a bit lean. Schiewer says, “Digitalization above all is a key challenge we need to master in order to maintain, in a climate of increasingly tougher competition, Baden-Württemberg as an attractive, high-performance location. With the financing we’ve received, we will only be able to implement many innovative ideas slowly.” Nevertheless, he continues, the fact that new budget items could be established was a success. This funding allows the university to set up more permanent activities in teaching, research, technology, and administration, with permanent positions, as well. Schiewer also welcomed a newly set climate contribution for flights. In the future, it will be possible to compensate for CO2 emissions for essential air travel from the university budget as long as the financing for the trip is coming from state funds or third-party support which also provide arrangements for compensation.