Nobel laureates: grand coalition must do more for science

A powerful science system is primarily decisive for the strength of the german economy, for secure jobs and for the future viability of society, according to a joint letter from three former science ministers of the union and the SPD, ten german nobel prize winners and several former presidents of research organizations.

A grand coalition offers a "unique opportunity" to secure a future-oriented science policy with a broad majority and to manage the necessary coordination processes between the federal government and the states, according to the appeal to the CDU, CSU and SPD negotiators. The letter is available to the dpa news agency. In addition to adequate long-term funding for universities and research, a coordinated overall federal-state concept is needed.

The federal and state governments should guarantee sustainable funding for science in their budgets for at least another ten years. The successes of the billion-dollar excellence initiative had to be secured and further developed. Individual university locations should be able to maintain and expand their outstanding international profile through cooperation with other university research institutions.

There is also a demand for the federal government to declare its willingness to support "the financing of universities and university research institutions in their entire breadth" after the expiry of the higher education pact in 2020, at least in the same rough order as before.

The union’s current proposal for a change in the constitution to abolish the ban on cooperation only provides for permanent cooperation between the federal government and the states "in cases of supra-regional importance".

The letter was signed by former science ministers peter frankenberg (CDU/baden-wurttemberg), hans zehetmair (CSU/bavaria) and jurgen zollner (berlin SPD/berlin) and supported by ten german nobel prize winners in the fields of chemistry, physics and medicine, as well as prominent former presidents of german science organizations, among others.

On monday, the CDU/CSU rejected calls from the SPD for a new federal program to expand all-day schools. This is to be discussed this wednesday in the grand coalition negotiation round. The SPD also feels that the union’s ideas for relaxing the ban on federal-state cooperation in education do not go far enough.

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