Federal Constitutional Court strikes down German university admissions system for medical degrees

Federal Constitutional Court strikes down German university admissions system for medical degrees
# 19 December 2017 23:26 (UTC +04:00)

The existing system under which German universities admit students to medicine degrees is unconstitutional, a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on Tuesday has found, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The widely-publicized verdict by the Karlsruhe-based court forces state academic institutions in Germany to develop a new means of selecting applicants which does not contradict the constitutional right of equal participation in public education.

While the judges did not reject the principle of awarding places based on a combination of A-level results, waiting lists and direct selection by the respective universities, they concluded that this process would have to occur within a federally-standardized system.

Federal and regional governments have until December 31, 2019 to agree on new regulations which address the issue.

The Federal Constitutional Court emphasized that good A-Level grades could not be the only criteria taken into account when determining which applicants were suitable for careers in medicine. Social skills and relevant work experience, for example as paramedics, should also form part of considerations for admission.

Hubertus Heil, co-leader of the German Social Democrats' (SPD) parliamentary faction expressed his support for a corresponding reform. "The A-level grade remains an important indication, but in the future the individual talent and appropriate earlier education must become more important", Heil told press.

On average, there are currently five applicants for every place to study medicine in Germany. Admissions criteria vary considerably across the country, but applicants must indicate a preference of up to six institutions where they intend to pursue their studies. As a consequence, students who would have fulfilled the necessary conditions for entry at other universities can still be left without a place and find themselves in a situation in which they spend several years on waiting lists.

Although the Federal Constitutional Court did not name an exact number, it demanded for a shorter temporal limit to be imposed on how long individuals could remain on waiting lists.

Speaking to the newspaper "Rheinische Post", Education Minster Johanna Wanka (CDU) said that the ball now lay in the court of the Federal Parliament whose task was to translate the ruling into legislation as quickly as possible.

Representatives from academic and medical associations largely welcomed the news. Horst Hippler, president of the German Rectors' Conference, said that limiting time on waiting lists was a sensible way to enable applicants to plan their futures more transparently and realistically.

Similarly, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, president of the German Medical Association, described the verdict as "the right sign at the right time."