Call to Safeguard the Quality of Bioscience Degrees

Professors, scientists and business representatives have sent an open letter to the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany to lobby for a professional standard of education for students, particularly those taking bioscience degrees.

The initiators of the letter, the German Life Sciences Association (VBIO), the Conference of Biology Faculties (KBF) and BIO Deutschland, wanted to point out the importance of professional standards in these degrees in order to ensure that the transition between faculties, fields of study and working life is as smooth as possible.

The biosciences are diverse and their approaches, methods and findings are expanding rapidly. Even the largest faculty cannot cover all individual bioscience fields. Certain professional standards are essential in order to ensure that education is not interpreted arbitrarily in line with local focus topics. “Students and the labour market pay the price when the diversity of the biosciences is not sufficiently reflected in course contents. It is vital that we set high standards of quality in the education of young scientists if we are to safeguard Germany’s position as a location for innovations,” warns Christian Schetter, a member of the board of BIO Deutschland and CEO of Fresenius Biotech GmbH. The authors of the letter believe that it will not be possible to achieve either a joint European Higher Education Area or comparable degree courses within Germany if professional standards are not applied.

The KBF and VBIO already agreed on standards in 1999. Since then, these standards have constantly been further developed. As a result, consensus among those involved has led to a basic canon of knowledge, skills and competences on which all bioscience sub-disciplines are based.

“Unfortunately, the professional criteria have only been applied to a certain extent in the accreditation and quality management of the study programmes,” says Carsten Roller from VBIO. “”Even worse, important actors apparently regard the use of professional standards in assessing the quality of programme contents in the accreditation system as unnecessary or even harmful.”

The authors of the open letter therefore call on the Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Programmes in Germany to recognise the core contents in bioscience degrees that have been agreed between academics and employers as a necessary quality criterion for accreditation. They also urge the accreditation council to allow more space for specific quality expectations in the further development of the accreditation system. All of the relevant stakeholders and expert organisations should be involved in the further development of these specific quality expectations

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