Press release

Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract Amendment will help affected individuals and science

Peter-André Alt, spokesperson of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany: Action needed to develop science funding

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The German Bundestag passed an amendment to the Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract (WissZeitVG) today to prevent researchers with fixed-term employment contracts from being put at a disadvantage as a result of protective measures taken in response to the corona pandemic. As a result of this amendment, research institutes and universities can now extend employment contracts even beyond the maximum limit that has applied to date. The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany expressly welcomes this amendment to the law. The Alliance is striving to ensure that research institutions make use of this option to help individuals who are in their qualification phase.

“The German government has, for the time being, allocated additional funding for the research community in connection with the corona pandemic so that researchers can step up even further the wide range of efforts they are making to overcome this crisis. Now, the German Bundestag has also adjusted the general conditions for academia and research overall on a pragmatic basis”, said Professor Dr Peter-André Alt, President of the German Rectors’ Conference which currently chairs the Alliance.

“The amendment to the Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract makes it possible to grant researchers additional time for completing their academic qualification when research and development activities have to be shut down, experiments and projects are discontinued or temporarily not possible, and access to research equipment and materials is no longer possible due to measures to contain the pandemic. We would like to thank the members of the Bundestag for taking fast and effective action. We now expect the Bundesrat to likewise pass the bill.”

With retroactive effect from 1 March 2020, the maximum limit provided for by the Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract for scientists and artists who are in the qualification phase has now been extended by six months due to the pandemic-related restrictions placed on university and research operations. This new possibility to extend contracts applies to employment contracts that are in effect between this date and 30 September 2020. Should the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Federal Republic of Germany make it necessary, the qualification framework can be extended for an additional six months based on a statutory ordinance with the force of law issued by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“The science community will continue to make contributions at all levels to overcoming this crisis”, Alt continued. “The past weeks have once again made it impressively clear that research and science are indispensable for our polity – and this applies to all areas of science and all scientific institutions. In this respect, the close partnership that has existed between Germany’s federal government, state governments and the scientific community in past years has proved to be very effective. At the same time, it is undeniable that there is still much to be done, such as in connection with digitalisation in research, university studies, and teaching, in particular with regard to its necessary infrastructure, as well as in connection with the financing of university medical training and research and with the continuing improvement of the general conditions for international cooperation. These are just a few examples of the challenges where science will be dependent on special support from Germany’s federal and state governments in the coming years as well.”

The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany is a union of the most important science and research organisations in Germany. It regularly issues statements regarding important science policy issues. The German Rectors’ Conference is a member of the Alliance and is chair of the organisation for 2020. The Alliance’s other members are the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the German Council of Science and Humanities.

Media contact:
German Rectors’ Conference
Susanne Schilden
Head of Communication | Press Speaker
Ahrstraße 39
53175 Bonn
Tel.: 0228/887-152

(press release 6/2020)

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time conducting research in Germany. The Foundation maintains an interdisciplinary network of well over 30,000 Humboldtians in more than 140 countries around the world – including 61 Nobel Prize winners.

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