DAS JAHR 1992 AUF DEM WEG ZUR UNIVERSITÄT - Am Vorabend des Jahres 1992


by Juliane Neidhardt


As already mentioned in the previous article, the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau was undergoing a tremendous upheaval at the beginning of 1992. Many structural changes, such as replacement of the former sections by the newly established faculties, had already taken place. The biggest personnel changes were still to come.


Personnel Development Plan

In the course of the political upheaval that took place in 1989, one of the goals was to adapt the personnel conditions of the universities in the new federal states to those in western Germany. In preparation for this, a structural commission was formed at the THI in 1991 under Rector Prof. Köhler. With the help of input from the faculties, a plan was developed there which could be presented to the Thüringisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst. On December 5, 1991, negotiations were held with the Ministry, during which a compromise was reached that was initially acceptable to all sides.

Strike on 15.01.1992 (Source: Ilmenau University Archive, Neg_920115-21)

Decree of the State Secretary

All the more excitement was caused by a decree of the State Secretary of the Thüringische Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst, Dr. Werner Brans. With this letter, which reached the rectorate on 02.01.1992, the new personnel developement plan of the THI was enacted with effect from 20.12.1991. Only, it did not necessarily state in it what had previously been agreed upon in the negotiations.

The State Secretary ordered 263 closures (29 professorships, 116 scientific employees, 118 non-scientific employees). This was 103 more than had been previously agreed. What's more, the decree gave a precise breakdown of these positions, right down to the individual disciplines, which left the university little room for maneuver in making its own decisions in line with demand. Two chairs ("Production Metrology" and "Energy Technology") were completely eliminated along with the associated personnel, and the positions were to be assigned to the Faculty of Economics, which was still being established. Furthermore, it could be inferred from the letter that the ratio of permanent to temporary positions in the scientific staff should be 20:80 in the future, in contrast to the ratio of 40:60 demanded by the university management.

Strike on 15.01.1992 (Source: Ilmenau University Archive, Neg_920115-25)

Senate reactions and student strike

The senate met in a special session on 15.01. on the subject. Noticeably dismayed, new negotiation goals were already recorded in the minutes with respect to the negotiation delegation from the ministry arriving the following day.

"The Senate expects closer cooperation and a better relationship of trust [...] for the solution of future tasks." (UAI, Senate minutes 15.01.1992)

The students of the THI, above all the StuRa, were also outraged. In the manuscripts of the university radio and articles in the Ilmenauer Hochschulblatt clear words are found:

"It is 1. a serious interference with the autonomy of the university and 2. overrides basic democratic rules." (Ms. Hochschulfunk for 13.01.1992, Signatur: UAI, 16872).

Furthermore, the students saw the safeguarding of teaching in danger. This was because the blocking of professorships with associated staff, as envisaged in the decree, would mean that corresponding lectures could no longer be held. One sees the level of the degrees and thus the market chances of the Ilmenauer students endangered, it is further said. Therefore the StuRa called to the strike. On 15 and 16.01.1992 the lecture halls remained empty.

Panel discussion on 15.01.1992, left: Mrs. Harjes-Ecker (Source: Ilmenau University Archive, Neg_920115-1_24)

New compromise

On Jan. 16, university management and the ministry met for new negotiations. It was decided to withdraw 40 closures. The university also got back the freedom to allocate the blocked positions itself in order to act according to the demand and to ensure the continuation of teaching. The ministry's negotiating delegation, led by Ms. Harjies-Ecker, also gave assurances that positions would be unblocked quickly if the need was demonstrated. In the dispute over the ratio of permanent to temporary positions, a compromise was reached: instead of the 40:60 desired by the university and the 20:80 sought by the ministry, an agreement was reached on 30:70 for scientific and non-scientific staff.

All parties were able to support this new compromise. The students were proud to have backed the university in the negotiation. Professor Köhler wrote in his column in the Ilmenauer Hochschulblatt, that he would have liked to keep the excitement in the record. But he also praised the students for their democratic behavior.

The new goal was thus set: to unlock the remaining positions, the THI wanted to bring it from the current 2507 to 6000 students.