Pharmacy student protest, Dec. 1st - 5th 2003


The county of Berlin has extreme financial problems for a number of years, the present government of social democrats (SPD) and the socialists (PDS) decided therefore further cuts for the universities in Berlin. As a result, the Free University in Berlin has to reduce the number of about 420 professors by 82 professors. This is a cut by about 20% in professors, followed by the cuts in the number of scientists, PhD students and non-scientific personell. The Free University of Berlin decided to reduce the number of professors in the School of Pharmacy by 4, that means from 11 to just 7 professors. This is a cut of almost 40%! Simultaneously, with this reduction, the rest of the staff will also be reduced adequately. As a consequence, the number of students per year will only be 106 (53 per semester). It should be reminded that Berlin was and presently still is the largest School of Pharmacy in Germany, originally we had 228 students per year (114 per semester). It should be noted that pharmacists are the only group of professionals with an extremely low unemployment rate of about 2% (average rate in Germany about 10%). In some areas, there is still a strong need for pharmacists, not only in pharmacy shops but also in pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, it is not logic at all to cut down Berlin pharmacy from 114 students per semester a number of years ago to just 53 students per semester after a transitional period of staff reduction. Specially, this is absolutely not acceptable in the light that the second School of Pharmacy at the Humbold University in Berlin was closed short before, this School of Pharmacy provided 45 places for students per semester.

To summarize: The original number of 114 students per semester at the Free University plus the 45 students at the Humbold University made a total of 159 pharmacy students accepted per semester. In a few years, this number will be reduced to 53 students per semester, that means a cut by almost 2/3!

The students of the School of Pharmacy at the Free University decided to protest against these cuts. They made it clear that it was no strike because it is pointless not attending the lectures and practicals. This would harm only the students but not touch the President and leadership of the Free University (FU). Therefore, they decided "to learn & protest", that means they attended as many lectures as possible and practicals were shifted, for example to the late afternoon/early evening. The pharmacy students developed different kinds of protests. For example distributing info material to the people in the subway-trains between 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning (rush hour). Special events were public lectures in front of the Brandenburg Gate (Prof. Gust, Chemistry), followed by a protest march to the Potsdamer Platz and two additional public lectures (Senior lecturer Dr. Kloft, Clinical Pharmacy and Prof. Müller, Pharmaceutical Technology & Biotechnology). The title of the lecture by Prof. Müller was "Visions for the future in Pharmacy". About 300 pharmacy students took place in this protest, the day on Tuesday, Dec. 2nd 2003. This is a very high percentage when considering a total amount of pharmacy students of about 700.