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Germany’s private universities feel Covid-19 pinch


Sharp decline in student numbers and external funding causes budget problems

Smaller private universities in Germany have been struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the findings of science funders’ association Stifterverband.

A survey of one in three private universities in Germany identified a decline in international students and a drop in funding from companies and foundations. Overall, 41 per cent of the survey respondents said their financial situation had become more perilous since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in a nationwide lockdown last March.

The strongest negative impact of the pandemic was on knowledge transfer and research collaboration, according to the findings. A total of 40 per cent of respondents said the pandemic had harmed such activities and made collaboration with international partners more difficult.

Private universities also said they had lost out on funding opportunities because of Covid-19.

While one-third of the universities surveyed said their situation had worsened in most respects because of the measures imposed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, another third said they had seen an improvement in terms of student satisfaction and research quality throughout 2020.

The Stifterverband also pointed out that, according to student surveys, the quality of teaching at private universities was higher during the pandemic than at state universities.