Redesigning university funding

The basic financing of universities must remain a task of the state. Nevertheless, funding must be more strongly geared to investment, demand and performance than in the past. Universities must promote the professional qualifications of students, open themselves more to working people and expand their offerings of continuing education in science. Entrepreneurial thinking and action should also be promoted in a more targeted manner. The BDA also advocates the reintroduction of socially responsible, downstream tuition fees.

The higher education funding system is in need of reform: currently, there are hardly any structural incentives for the individual federal states to invest in their universities: Study places are expensive and academics can be recruited from other Länder. For universities, too, a special commitment to teaching is hardly worthwhile in financial terms: university budgets are only geared to a small proportion of the services provided and the private financing share is low. The result is a lack of demand orientation and underfunding. The BDA is convinced: In addition to the number of students, the success rate and the quality of teaching must also be taken into account to a much greater extent in the financing of universities in the future.
Shaping higher education funding across the Länder
Closer cooperation between the federal government and the Länder is necessary for sound funding. The federal and state governments should establish a nationwide voucher pool that is jointly financed. Students receive study vouchers that are paid out of this pool and can be redeemed directly at the university. On the one hand, this strengthens the demand orientation at the universities and increases the perception there of studying and teaching as a core task of the university. In any case, the Federal Government should maintain its commitment to the financing of study places at the current level on a permanent basis and promote higher education institutions in teaching on the basis of their performance, which also takes into account the success of studies. The BDA, BDI and Stifterverband have presented a financing model.
Introduce downstream socially compatible tuition fees
Socially responsible tuition fees also have a positive impact on improving teaching and learning. They expand the funding base and provide an additional impetus for demand-orientation at the universities. In order to be able to fully develop their steering effect, tuition fees must remain with the universities in their full amount and be used for the sustainable improvement of the quality of studies and teaching. A downstream levy ensures social compatibility and guarantees that no one is held back from studying for financial reasons. As surveys (e.g. ifo-Bildungsbarometer) have shown for years, these downstream tuition fees are also supported by a clear majority in Germany.
Optimize student financing
In order to enable young people to study regardless of their financial background, public transfers should be geared more strongly than in the past to the principle of need and used as precisely as possible. More unbureaucratic support for BAföG recipients and a federal student loan accessible to all can ensure the social compatibility of student financing.
State funding of studies is supplemented by scholarship programmes for particularly high-achieving students. By improving the framework conditions for the establishment of scholarships and additional incentives for cooperation between companies and universities, the state can further strengthen private commitment. The Deutschlandstipendium points in the right direction here and is particularly supported by the BDA. Since its introduction, the Deutschlandstipendium has developed very successfully: in 2019, more than 28,000 students benefited from it - that was only around 2,000 fewer than in all 13 scholarship schemes for gifted students combined. Since the Deutschlandstipendium was launched in 2011, companies and private supporters have already donated a total of almost 200 million euros.
What is the goal? Practice-oriented courses of study with high quality!
The guiding principle of a sustainable higher education system includes the diversity of university profiles and the autonomous setting of academic priorities in a competitive environment. Profiling requires autonomy in personnel recruitment, financial responsibility and management. The professional qualification (employability, but also entrepreneurship) and personal development of graduates must become one of the central goals of every degree programme, irrespective of the subject. This is also in line with European objectives and ensures international connectivity and mobility.
Targeted promotion of excellent teaching should emphasise the equal value of teaching and research at universities and further strengthen competition between universities. The higher education institutions shape the content of their programmes and are responsible for their quality The programmes of continuing education and dual studies should also be further expanded in line with demand. Intensive support, especially in the introductory phase of studies, comprehensive study counselling and bridge courses for first-year students with inadequate study requirements are important ways of reducing the drop-out rates, which are currently far too high, especially in the economically important STEM subjects. The practical orientation of degree courses should be significantly expanded through internships and project-based and problem-oriented learning.

12. November 2020

Higher Education Funding