University Framework Act

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Basic data
Title: University Framework Act
Abbreviation: HRG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Special administrative law
References : 2211-3
Original version from: January 26, 1976
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 185 )
Entry into force on: January 30, 1976
New announcement from: March 31, 1999
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 18 )
Last change by: Art. 1 G of November 15, 2019
( BGBl. I p. 1622 )
Effective date of the
last change:
November 23, 2019
(Art. 2 G of November 15, 2019)
GESTA : K003
Weblink: Text of the law
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The Higher Education Framework Act ( HRG ) is a framework law on higher education law enacted to regulate higher education in the Federal Republic of Germany . As the cultural and scientific authority in Germany in the federal states lies and corresponding details in the Land legislation are regulated, the federal government allowed only on its framework legislation to Art. 75 para. 1 no. 1 of the Basic Law was established with the new version (Article. 1 September 2006 repealed!) Make use of the old version. The federal government is therefore only authorized to make detailed regulations in exceptional cases.

scope of application

After § 1 HRG are of the Higher Education Act, all universities , colleges of education , art schools , colleges , agricultural colleges, conservatories and other entities designated by state law state universities, are included. According to Section 70 HRG, other institutions can only be included in the scope of application as universities within the meaning of the law if they are essentially comparable to state universities.

Regulation content

In addition to the basic tasks of the universities, their legal status and membership of the university as a self-governing body are also regulated. In addition, the admissions to study are regulated. Finally, the University Framework Act contains requirements for adapting state law.

Historical development


The Basic Law of 1949 did not provide for federal competence in the field of education; it established the cultural sovereignty of the states in Article 30 of the Basic Law . Up until the Science Council was founded in 1957, there was no institutionalized cooperation between the federal government and the federal states in university and science policy; the federal states coordinated with one another in the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK). The rising costs of education in the 1960s and the associated financial problems in the federal states led to a change in the Basic Law: Articles 91a and 91b of the Basic Law established the expansion and construction of universities, including university clinics, as well as educational planning and research funding as so-called joint tasks of the federal and state governments . With the addition of Art. 75 No. 1a GG old version in 1969, the federal government also received a framework legislative competence for higher education. Reasons for the shift of competence on the part of the federal states were, in particular, the growing pressure from the 68 students, which the federal government was supposed to counter with the help of a regulatory law, an autonomy of the universities that was perceived as too far (state university laws hardly existed at the time) and the fear that the higher education system would become Federal Republic of Germany could develop too far apart due to the upcoming state university laws. A country treaty had failed. The federal state did not allow the federal states to transfer only minor competencies to the federal government and, with the framework competence, enforced very extensive competences.

First HRG

The first version of a university framework law dates from 1976 and regulated, among other things, the tasks of universities (such as study and teaching, research), admission to studies, the members of the university, the organization and administration of the university. It did not contain any regulation on tuition fees . The sometimes very detailed regulations led to numerous conflicts between the federal government and the states.


The guiding principle behind the first amendment to the University Framework Act in 1985 was therefore to dismantle normative control - “ deregulation ”. In addition, the amendment included the introduction of binding intermediate and pre-diploma examinations, the introduction of standard study periods and the strengthening of professorships in the university committees. In the 3rd HRG amendment dated July 1, 1985, study regulations were removed from the catalog of statutes requiring approval. The management structure was opened for alternatives (rectorate or presidential constitution) and various forms of design were provided for third-party research. With the 4th HRG amendment of August 20, 1998, the regulations on internal and external organization and administration were completely deleted from the HRG. At the same time, bachelor's and master's degrees were introduced on a trial basis .

The HRG amendments 5 and 6 of 2002 provoked a renewed conflict between the federal government and the states. At the request of the states of Thuringia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Hesse, Saarland, Hamburg and Saxony, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on July 27, 2004 that the federal legislature had restricted the rights of the federal states too severely with the requirements for the junior professorship in the higher education framework law and declared the 5th amendment null and void. The Federal Constitutional Court also lifted the ban on charging tuition fees. The law amending service and labor law in higher education (HdaVÄndG), which came into force on January 1, 2005, is considered a "repair" amendment because it attempted to limit the effects of the Federal Constitutional Court's rulings on employment contracts. The 7th Amendment to the University Framework Act (7th amendment) has also been in force since January 1, 2005 and contains, in particular, new regulations for the allocation of study places. The universities themselves can now allocate some of their study places on their own responsibility. The last revision of the content was carried out by the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG) of April 12, 2007, with which the regulations of §§ 57a – f HRG were removed from the HRG and anchored in a modified form in the WissZeitVG.

Criticism from scientists

The university framework law was strongly criticized by a large number of the scientists concerned. One of the main points of criticism was the “12-year rule” (15 years for medical professionals). This states that temporary employment of scientists at higher education institutions is now permitted (even with interruptions and with different employers) for a maximum of twelve years. In addition, further temporary employment is not permitted and the fixed-term (not the employment relationship) may be ineffective. After the lawsuit filed by the federal states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg against the fifth amendment to the University Framework Act, the regulation was outsourced to a separate law, the Scientific Time Contract Act .

The aim of this regulation was to protect employees from "permanent" employment in constantly changing fixed-term employment contracts. The previous legal regulation provided for a permanent employment claim after six years, but only after uninterrupted employment with the same employer ("chain contract clause"). This could be avoided in the long term by changing employers or "inserting" periods without employment.

However, since the number of permanent positions available for scientists is limited, this law turns out to be a “de facto professional ban” for highly qualified and specialized scientists from their late 30s if they do not make it to professors by then. This leads to increased emigration of those affected abroad ( talent emigration ), so that innovations and research results arise there, for which those responsible in Germany were trained at great expense .

Since part-time contracts are also fully included in the calculation, this is of particular importance for academics who step down to start a family. So many decided against starting a family and having children or were disadvantaged by it.

For these reasons, the law is also criticized as being hostile to families and women.

Federalism reform

With the reform of federalism , the federal framework legislative competence has been deleted from the Basic Law. In the higher education sector, the federal government now has the option, within the framework of competing legislation, to issue regulations for the areas of university admissions and university degrees. However, the federal states may deviate from these regulations. In addition, the federal government can continue to do so within the framework of the so-called "joint tasks" ( Art. 91b GG new version) in agreement with the states in the field of scientific and research projects at universities ( Art. 91b Para. 1 No. 2 GG) and in consultation with the federal states become active in research buildings at universities, including large-scale equipment.

Abolition of the university framework law

On May 9, 2007, the federal government passed a draft law to repeal the higher education framework law. The first consultation in the Bundestag took place on September 20, 2007. The draft provided for expiry on October 1, 2008. However, this date could not be kept, and on a small request on December 11, 2008, April 1, 2009 was given as the new date, but the Bundestag still had to decide what did not happen. Replacement is, among other things, the "State Treaty on the Allocation of Study Places". The CDU, CSU and FDP government elected on September 27, 2009 confirmed in the coalition agreement presented on October 26, 2009 the intention to abolish the University Framework Act. However, this has not yet happened despite the new coalition, so that the old legal situation remains.


  • Tobias Hoymann: The dispute over the federal university framework legislation . Political negotiation processes in the first grand and the social-liberal coalition . VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2010.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ulrich Herbert, No Future with Bulmahn (PDF; 211 kB), Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 14, 2002
  2. Federal Council printed paper 352/07 of May 25, 2007 (PDF; 173 kB)
  3. Bundestag printed paper 16/6122 of July 23, 2007 (PDF; 245 kB)
  4. Brief inquiry on the status of the repeal of the Higher Education Framework Act of 11 December 2008 (PDF; 63 kB)