NRW Universities Refuse to Sign Target Agreements
The mission of universities actively to fulfill societal obligations in an economically responsible way demands that they do not take any incalculable financial risks.
In its draft of the University Act, the government of the Federal State of NRW, however, has significantly modified the framework conditions for universities. At this stage, the details of the new regulations and their consequences are not at all clear. Due to this uncertainty, the NRW universities are not in a position to sign the target agreements for 2014/15 between the federal state and the universities. To do so would mean to agree to “fly blind.” Yesterday, the universities’ decision was communicated in writing to the NRW Minister of Science and Research, Svenja Schulze.
As a rule, the target agreements between the federal state and the universities are negotiated and signed every two years. They define activities and goals in the areas of research, teaching, equal opportunities, internationalization, research transfer, and diversity, among others. The signing of the new target agreements is scheduled to take place at the end of 2013.
In parallel to the target agreement negotiations, the NRW government has presented its draft of a new University Act whose coming into effect would fundamentally change the higher education and research landscape in North Rhine-Westphalia. The new Act would allow the federal state to introduce regulations and intervene in the autonomy of the universities on several levels. For this reason, at present, the universities do not know the specifics of the legal and financial frameworks to which they will have to conform. A responsible assessment of the consequences of the target agreements is thus not possible.
This decision will in no way adversely affect the performance of the universities in North Rhine-Westphalia. All educational and research institutions are fulfilling their societal mission and confirm that they will perform all their duties without signing the new target agreements. Students in particular will not be affected by this decision, and the universities will continue to provide outstanding teaching and learning, offer a broad range of courses, as well as an adequate learning environment.
Dr. Roman Walega
Geschäftsstelle der Landesrektorenkonferenz der Universitäten in NRW
Phone: +49 231/755-7558