A huge project for schoolchildren, students and science

Berlin The coalition agreement is a bounty for education and research. Bettina Stark Watzinger (FDP), the new Federal Minister for Education and Research, must not only support 8,000 particularly needy schools across the country, but also restore the student loan to its old size. The new agency that is supposed to speed up the transfer of new scientific knowledge to businesses is of particular importance to the economy.

The Ministry of Education and Scientific Research will need billions of euros for this. “It will be costly,” Finance Ministry officials said. The house budget will probably have to be increased by at least a quarter, about five billion euros, in order to implement the plans, according to negotiators.

So it is good that Stark Watzinger belongs to the party of future finance minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner. The traffic light contract explicitly stipulates significantly higher investments in education – and Lindner has also emphasized this time and time again. The Secretary of State for Education Jens Brandenburg (FDP) announced as a precaution that if the party leader were to stay away from him in the struggle for financial stability, he would be “glamorously reminded”.

The largest educational policy project is the new Start-Up Opportunities program: 4,000 schools with a large number of socially disadvantaged students must receive a budget that they can use to build new buildings, modernize teaching, or fund cooperation with outside actors. There are also permanent positions for social workers.

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This means that about one in ten of the total 40,000 general education and vocational schools in Germany will receive significant support. Another 4,000 schools “in disadvantaged areas and neighbourhoods” will be permanently staffed with social workers. All this costs “in any case several billion euros a year,” said someone from the coalition’s Education Working Group.

The next big part is Digital Pact 2.0 for schools. So far, €6.5 billion has been made available one-time from the first digital agreement here. Traffic Light now wants to install help at least until 2030 so that municipalities can not only buy and refurbish IT equipment for schools, but can also pay for maintenance and IT staff.

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So far, the digitization of schools is progressing very slowly. One reason for this is that municipalities avoid spending that entails high follow-up costs. This is also about many more billions – but given so many funds that have yet to be recalled, it will likely be needed at the end of the legislative period and after it.

On the other hand, more money must flow quickly for student loans: The training subsidy must regain the importance it once had for large parts of the younger generation. Although there are nearly three million students now, one-sixth of them do not get student loans.

Draw

Stark Watzinger promised at the FDP conference that “the choice of study no longer depends on the parental home.” Until middle-class children are also supported again, not only must maximum monthly payments rise sharply, but exemptions from their parents’ income must also rise. Currently there are already discounts if parents collectively earn more than 2,000 euros a month, complains Matthias Anpol, general secretary of the German Student Union.

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In addition, the loan component – half of it currently, up to a maximum of €10,000 – will be reduced in the medium term. Because the fear of getting into debt prevents many young people from studying, so they pee. Overall, a student loan project will also cost billions, it is said.

The new agency must bring new knowledge into the economy faster

According to insiders, around €2 billion per year should ensure that knowledge is transferred from research to companies eventually. For many years, experts have criticized the fact that Germany invests a lot of government money in research – but there are relatively few new business models emerging from it.

Ampelkoalition wants to change that with two tools: The “New German Agency for Transport and Innovation” (DATI) aims primarily to innovate universities of applied sciences, i.e. the former universities of applied sciences, as well as small and medium-sized universities in cooperation with start-ups and small businesses to boost business. The budget for DATI – a project by both liberals and greens – should increase to €1 billion by the next election, according to negotiators.

But that’s not all: “For a real boost to innovation, we have to boost spin-offs,” says the alliance agreement. In order to build an infrastructure for this, universities and large research institutes have to receive additional funds. Also for this, negotiators estimated “another billion euros”.

Overall, the traffic light also promises universities that the “future contract for study and education,” formerly called the University Charter, will become dynamic from 2022 — the same as funding for research institutions, which receive three percent year after year for a long time. The federal government currently pays just under €1.9 billion annually. Universities will receive an additional 150 million euros annually in the future.

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In addition, funds from the DAAD, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which organizes the international exchange of scientists, and the Academies of Sciences will be “revitalized”. This permanently increases the department’s annual expenditures, but the items are “manageable” in themselves at least, say negotiators – each in the “three-figure only” millions.

more: These are cabinet members from the new Traffic Lights Coalition

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