TU Berlin president Christian Thomsen has entered the public debate surrounding the latest amendment to the Berlin State Higher Education Act (BerlHG). In his most recent article in the Tagesspiegel, Professor Thomsen points out that by providing almost exclusively restricted funding only over the last two decades to cover the increasing demands it has placed on research at universities as well as on junior scholars, the federal government is also responsible for the fact that many researchers work on limited contracts. The basic funding provided by the federal states to meet these needs has only remained constant or at best kept pace with inflation.
It is only possible to increase the number of postdocs at universities on permanent contracts by substantially increasing university budgets, such as through an additional financed staff category, if structural changes and ensuing consequences are to be avoided. More money is required to retain the current ratio of doctoral candidates employed on temporary contracts to postdocs on permanent contracts. One solution, and something which is urgently needed, would be to increase the overhead from federal research.
"I am convinced," says Professor Thomsen "that we need to protest and at the same time take action. It is the young academics themselves who will have to bear the brunt of any kind of unwanted gridlock. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to reach an agreement with Berlin's politicians in order to correct unclear formulations in the law and preserve our capacity to act. We also have to fight for more money, particularly in the next round of higher education agreement negotiations. We need the support of everyone for this. And we need to search for other solutions in this difficult situation."
Read the full article in the Tagesspiegel online (in German only)