Austerity Measures Trigger Revolt At Universities in Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony’s science representatives have protested against the state‘s austerity measures in the higher education sector in the country, aiming to prevent the cuts and claiming that the future of science is endangered.

Through a joint statement issued a few days ago, they have warned of the risks that could emerge from the foreseen cuts, as universities make a significant contribution to the country’s future and performance, Erudera College News reports.

Chairman of the Lower Saxony State University Conference (LHK), Wolfgang Uwe Friedrich, who is also the co-initiator of the joint declaration, believes that the plans of the government are short-sighted.

According to him, rather than thinking how will the country make ends meet in the upcoming year, the focus should initially be on the 2030-2040 period, and to make it happen, new debt would have to be taken out or to set up innovation funds.

On the other hand, speaking about cuts of 32 million euros for universities in 2020 and 2021, Science Minister Björn Thümler welcomed the move and the discussion about cuts in the sector, according to the Wiarda blog.

Declaration signatories say that humanities, cultural and social sciences will be impacted by the cross-departmental cuts, as the latter conveys a negative signal to both researchers and students.

Switching to online semesters, universities have also reported additional costs, and they also need to plan stability in order to advance digitalization in the medium and long term.

It was earlier reported that 85 per cent of lessons at universities in Saxony would take place remotely during the winter semester as a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Declaration of criticism over cuts has been signed by Lower Saxony State University Conference (LHK), the Lower Saxony Scientific Commission (WKN), leading scientists from the Lower Saxony-based institutes and centres of the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers and Fraunhofer Society and the Leibniz Association.

In addition to developments in Germany, COVID-19 pandemic has also forced several US universities and colleges to make cuts in budgets, as well as has led to a decrease in the number of state education jobs across the country.

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