February 7, 2013 (TSR) – Germany’s education minister has been stripped of her doctorate because of plagiarism, in the second such case to hit Angela Merkel’s government in two years.
Opposition leaders said Annette Schavan should resign after the decision by the University of Düsseldorf to void her PhD because parts of her doctoral thesis had been copied. Another minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, quit as defence minister in 2011 over a plagiarised thesis.
Schavan has refused to resign and said she would take legal action against the decision to void her doctorate. “I will not accept the decision of the University of Dusseldorf and I will file a lawsuit against it,” Schavan, 57, told reporters during a visit to Johannesburg, South Africa.
The accusations of plagiarism are especially embarrassing for Schavan because she oversees Germany’s universities and had previously been scathing in her criticism of Guttenberg, who resigned a month after losing his doctorate.
“An education minister who is proven to have grossly violated academic rules cannot continue in the post,” said Renate Künast, a leading member of the opposition Green party. “I assume that Frau Schavan will spare herself and education a prolongation of this affair by resigning.”
Merkel has not publicly commented on the case, but members of her centre-right coalition said Schavan had fallen victim to a politically motivated campaign to damage the government before the autumn federal election.
In Tuesday’s ruling, the Düsseldorf University commission said Schavan had “systematically and intentionally presented intellectual performance that in reality she did not generate herself”. The decision left Schavan without an academic title as her degree programme in philosophy finished solely with a PhD.
Since the allegations arose in May, Schavan has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said she wrote her dissertation with a clear conscience. Her lawyers have said the proceedings of the commission had been riddled with mistakes and were unlawful, not least because information was leaked to the public in the process.
Source: The Guardian