Higher Education News

Overworked - Bologna Reform Causes Increased Workloads

Overworked - Bologna Reform Causes Increased Workloads

By Jan-Martin Wiarda

Young German scientists are unhappy about the Bologna reform.

Overworked© René Jansa - iStockphoto.com
The workload of German doctoral and professorial candidates was already high - and the Bologna reform has apparently increased it further. According to the new WiNbus survey conducted by the Higher Education Information System (Hochschul-Informations-System, HIS), 58% of those questioned say that the extent of their teaching commitments has increased; more than two thirds of them also report that they spend significantly more time supporting and advising students. 73 percent of young scientists also noted that they are having to put more work into organising exams. As a result, they have less and less time for research, say 67 percent. WiNbus is a new online panel through which the Hanover research institute will be regularly surveying young scientists on their working and living conditions. Over 1,400 university employees took part in the first round.

The results of the survey triggered diverse reactions. Klaus Landfried, former president of the German Rectors' Conference, criticised the attitude of many professors: »Once again they are offloading the additional work onto their post-graduate students. It's scandalous.« Bernhard Kempen, President of the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (Deutscher Hochschulverband), rejects Landfried's accusations. The workload has increased for both professors and research assistants in equal measure, he says. »To blame are the policymakers - they introduced these new degrees that require intensive support, but were unwilling to spend the money to enable universities to actually meet their obligations towards their students.« Finally, Andreas Storm, parliamentary secretary of state at the Federal Ministry of Science, declares somewhat opaquely: »More support and teaching must not be seen by young scientists as an interruption to their own career opportunities.«

The universities need more support in this respect, emphasises the secretary of state. Storm bravely battles to highlight the positive in the results. »The survey clearly indicates that the Bologna process increases the importance of teaching«, he says. »That was and remains a desired outcome.« However, the increasing workload also affects the popularity of the Bologna reforms among the young scientists. The numbers here are downright devastating: only 16 percent still see the conversion of all degree courses to Bachelor's and Master's degree courses as mostly positive. Approximately half of those surveyed also state that they have a more negative view of the reform today than they did a few years ago.

»These are clearly people who are disappointed by the implementation of the Bologna process at the universities«, says Steffen Jaksztat of HIS. Two thirds of the scientists additionally dispute that a Bachelor's degree actually qualifies graduates for a career. An interesting footnote: low though it is overall, the approval rating for the reform is still highest among those who are the most enthusiastic about modern forms of learning and actively involved in promoting them. They obviously see the advantages that the new degree courses offer their students despite the difficulties. In view of the figures, secretary of state Storm however admits that the Bologna process has been implemented »with varying degrees of success« in Germany. »We must act quickly and make improvements where they are necessary.« On this point at least he agrees with Klaus Landfried and Bernhard Kempen.

From DIE ZEIT ::