50 Years of bafog – calls for fundamental reform

50 years of bafog - calls for fundamental reform

Federal minister of education anja karliczek celebrated her 50th birthday. Positive assessment of the 50th anniversary of the introduction of bafog.

The CDU politician told the deutsche presse-agentur that society can be proud of the many personal success stories that have been made possible as a result. "50 years of bafog are an unprecedented national effort for equal opportunities in germany."

At the same time, karliczek spoke out in favor of reforming the study requirement after the federal elections. "We should develop the bafog further and make it more flexible in the next legislative period."The education minister can imagine raising the age limit for the bafog, so that people who decide to study later in life can also apply for the benefit.

Number of recipients has decreased

Criticism of the anniversary comes from the opposition, trade unions and the german student union (DSW), which is responsible for processing bafog applications and paying out the benefit. They are calling for fundamental reforms because, according to the federal statistical office, the number of bafog recipients continues to fall from year to year.

After a peak of 979.000 bafog recipients (including school bafog) in 2012, the number was only 639 last year, according to the federal statistical office.000. The german student union believes that one of the reasons for this is that the benefit has not been reformed, expanded or adapted to the new realities of student life sufficiently over the years. The application process is also repeatedly criticized for being too complicated.

A look back: on 1. September 1971 the "bundesausbildungsforderungsgesetz" (bafog) came into force. Kate strobel (SPD), the federal minister of youth and education, spoke at the time of a "very substantial step toward dismantling educational barriers."The education requirement would be "a very considerable, indeed a decisive step forward" in favor of better educational opportunities.

The bafog has been reformed several times over the years. At first, it was just a grant with no repayment. Later it was converted to a full loan. Since 1990, the rule has been: one half is free, the other has to be paid back, but not more than 10 percent.010 euros. The amount of the bafog is determined, among other things, by the income of the parents and by their assets. Currently there is a maximum of 861 euros.

According to the federal statistical office, more than 36 million people have received the benefit since the office began surveying in 1975. In the beginning, 270 universities benefited, according to the university rectors’ conference.000 out of 606.000 students enrolled in the university (44.6 percent). In 2020, according to the federal statistical office, there were 466.000, although there are now 2.9 million students enrolled.

Does the bafog fail to achieve its original goal??

Elke hannack, deputy president of the german federation of trade unions, told dpa that not much remained of the bafog’s original goal of creating equal opportunities in the education system. Germany cannot and must not afford to cut off the educational opportunities of working-class children.

"Instead of the trend reversal promised by karliczek, the bafog continues its downward slide," criticized kai gehring, spokesman for higher education policy for the grunen parliamentary group. The last bafog reform of 2019, in which, among other things, allowances for income and assets were increased in order to enlarge the group of recipients, turned out to be a complete flop. Gehring calls for a new start "with basic security for students and trainees.

The left also voiced criticism: the federal government had dragged its feet on the necessary major reform, said federal managing director jorg schindler. The general criticism was also joined by student associations, junior party organizations, trade unions and other youth associations. The FDP faction in the bundestag referred to its reform proposals: a basic requirement of 200 euros per month for all students, which does not have to be paid back. In addition, there was a further 200 euros that would not be refunded if students worked part-time or did voluntary work during their studies.

The secretary general of the german student union, achim meyer auf der heyde, spoke on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the german student union. Bafog anniversary of a success story. But the pressure to act is great. "We have to make bafog fit for the next 50 years, and that means much more than quantitative increases in the federal tax rate and parental allowances."The DSW is in favor of making the benefit a full subsidy again – i.E. Without repayment obligations – as in the early days of bafog. In addition, the student unions are calling for an extension of the maximum period of entitlement. In addition, the circle of eligible persons should be expanded so that students from middle-income families also have access to the bafog.

In the medium term, the DSW proposes a "three-basket model": a basic financial requirement for all students that is above the level of child benefit, plus bafog, which is based on need and income, plus an amount for one-time expenses at the beginning of the semester, for example, for a laptop or the semester fee.

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