Laws to Strengthen Science: The New Berlin Freedom of Study

Laws to Strengthen Science: The New Berlin Freedom of Study

The new Berlin University Act gives students more freedom. Coalition representatives have repeatedly emphasized in discussions about amendments to the “Law to Strengthen Berlin Science” – most recently in debate in the plenary session of the House of Representatives before being passed last Thursday.

In fact, “freedom of study” – in addition to freedom of research and teaching – is now being defined in terms of content for the first time. This includes “free choice of courses, the right to choose areas of focus within the course of study, as well as the elaboration and expression of scientific and artistic ideas”.

Universities now have to prepare for part time students

SPD science expert Ina Cizzora said at the plenary session that “there are many things that are easier for students and have more freedom in the structure of their studies”. A central point here is the right to study part-time. It is “to be given to all students upon request,” it says.

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Prior to this, part-time study was linked to work, care, disability or a mandate, for example in a student council. Opening up further would mean that universities would have to further adapt their courses to the needs of this group.

Whether full or part time study – students get more exam attempts. Those who fail an exam have been allowed to repeat it twice so far. In future, if the examinees already attend any course counseling, there will be a third possibility of repetition.

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Pandemic rules for exams apply in winter semester as well

For bachelor’s and master’s theses that fail due to insufficient performance, there are now two additional attempts, instead of just one.

[Im Abschiedsinterview mit dem Tagesspiegel sprach Staatssekretär Steffen Krach auch über das neue BerlHG: “Wichtige Anliegen verschiedener Akteure berücksichtigt”]

In the pandemic period, exams that have been taken but not passed are also considered “not taken”. This rule has now been extended for the upcoming winter session. Universities should also give deadline extension for term papers and thesis in winter semester 2021/22.

The new higher education law should also enable – and protect – greater diversity. The fact that universities encourage and advise “underrepresented sections of the population” on degree-taking was already part of the law.

What’s new is that they should also reduce the harm for transgender and non-binary people, as well as those with gender insertion, in a variety of ways. By law, this means that the first name of your choice must be used in oral and written communication with students and on documents. In addition, universities should create authorities for diversity and anti-discrimination and suitable contact points.

University admission is particularly accessible to professionally qualified people without a high school diploma. In the future, you can start a bachelor’s degree after at least two years of vocational training in a similar profession. The previous requirement of working for three years in the scholarly profession has been removed.

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