I present here some of the evidences that the foreign PhD candidates did not have access to regular employment contracts at the Max-Planck Society.
Besides being formally stated in the pages of the Personalhanbuch of the society, this policy was openly admitted in the web-sites of several Max-Planck Institutes, in official circulars (Rundschreiben) of the MPG and by several "officials" of the MPG, including institute directors, members of the central administration and even by the president of the MPG, Prof. Gruss (in letters written and signed by himself, as well as in person during the second meeting of the MPG-PhDnet, in November 2003 in Dresden).
However, in the domestic Labor Court the MPG always denied the existence of such a policy.
The situation has never been homogeneous across the many Max-Planck Institutes. In some of them, the discriminatory MPG rules were strictly applied. In some other the directors were giving employment contracts also to foreigners, until they eventually found they were violating internal rules. Then they terminated the contracts (illegally, from a Labor law point of view) and converted them into fellowships. An example from the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Golm is available below.
The movies of the Dresden meeting will be made available as soon as possible.
Annexes to the original complaint to the Commission
Page "G02/Anlage A II d 1" of the Personalhanbuch of the Max-Planck Society, regarding
the rules for the contractual treatment of German scientific personnel. It is stated that German
doctoral students shall have a regular BAT IIa/2 contract.
Page "G02/Anlage B I d" of the Personalhanbuch of the Max-Planck Society, regarding the
rules for the contractual treatment of foreign scientific personnel. It is stated that foreign
doctoral student shall have a Stipendium.
Letter written by the representatives of the students of the Max-Planck Institute for
Molecular Genetics in Berlin to the president of the Max-Planck Society, Professor Peter
Gruss. Among other issues the students raised the problem of different contractual conditions
given on the basis of nationality.
Answer of Professor Gruss to the letter described at point C. Regarding the different
treatment of foreign students, the president claims the existence of a rule set by the Bund-
Länder-Kommission and states the impossibility of the Society to intervene.
Circular 82/2002 of the Max-Planck Society. The Society invites the institute's directors to
discuss and evaluate the possibility of granting regular contracts BAT IIa/2 to foreign doctoral
students as well. This invitation seems to be in conflict with the statement of impossibility of
the Society to intervene on the matter. New upper limits for the net payment of the Stipendia
are set. Nevertheless, these new limits do not compensate for the lack of social security nor
match the net wage paid with a regular contract.
(Part I, TOC,
Part II, report)
Report of the first national meeting of the network of PhD
students at Max-Planck
Institutes, held in April 2003 in Heidelberg. At page 5 the problem of different contractual
conditions of doctoral students on the basis of nationality is addressed.
Answer of Prof. Gruss to the report described at point F, addressed to the spokesperson of
the network in 2003. Regarding the discrimination of foreign doctoral students, Prof. Gruss
repeats the impossibility to intervene.
Article published by "The Scientist" and available on the internet at:
The central administration of the Max-Planck Society answered to the article and admitted
the difference of treatment of the students on the basis of nationality.
Circular 35/2004 of the Max-Planck Society. At the end, it states that regarding the
possibility to give regular contracts also to foreign students and Stipendia also to German
students, no decision has yet been taken.
(1. MPI Dortmund,
2. MPI Lindau)
Copies of the web pages of two Max-Planck Institutes where a
difference of treatment for
doctoral students on the basis of nationality is explicitly stated.
Annexes to the letter to the Commission opposing closure
Copy of an article published
after the adoption of the rules in “Max Planck Inside”, a
section of “Max Planck Intern”, the internal magazine of the Max-Planck Society. Mr. Dirk
Hartung, on behalf of the Gesamtbetriebsrat of the MPS, writes about the different payments
based on nationality as a still on-going problem.
In the final version of the article before
publication (circulated internally to the Society) the
Gesamtbetriebsrat clearly indicates that even for community students the possibility the
equality of financial condition is not mandatory but remains an “option”.
Copy of an article published by "The Scientist" in which Mrs. Nicola Von Hammerstein, from
the general management of the MPS, told the magazine that after the adoption of the new rules she expected “at least some non-German
students (…) to be awarded regular employment contracts in autumn. However, she said it was impossible to predict at
that stage how many would eventually benefit”.
My reply to Mrs. Von Hammerstein, published (with some cuts) by "The Scientist" [2005, 19(7):8].
Copy of the web page of IMPRS-SurMat where a difference of treatment for doctoral students on the basis of nationality is explicitly stated. As of today, 01.15.2009, four years (!) after the adoption of the new rules, the web page is still there.
Copy of the web page of IMPRS-MCB where a difference of treatment for doctoral students on the basis of nationality is
Letter of Prof. Dr. Reinhard Lipowsky (director of the theory division at the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and
Interfaces, Golm) in which he informs an Italian PhD Student that having hired him on a regular work contract was a mistake as it
violates the rules of the Max-Planck Society. For this reason, he cancels the contracts and replaces it by a fellowship, the only
possible compensation for foreign doctoral students compliant to the MPG rules.
Newsletter of the theory division at the Max-Planck-Institute of colloids and interfaces (issue 5, April 2002). A
letter of complaint of the foreign PhD student whose work contract was replaced by a fellowship is answered by Prof. Reinhard Lipowsky.
The director states the existence of rules set by the Bund-Länder-Kommission: regular work contracts are meant exclusively for
German students, whereas foreign students should have access only to fellowships ("Stipendia").