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Research study “Jung, akademisch, prekär”

Study on the social situation and working conditions of student employees at universities and research institutions

The research project “Jung, akademisch, prekär?” (“Young, academic, precarious?”) is carried out by the Institut für Arbeit und Wirtschaft (Institute for Labour and Economics) in cooperation with the trade unions ver.di and GEW. Focus of the project is a nationwide employee survey. Over the period from 30 January 2022 to 22 July 2022, a total of 11,107 student/academic assistants and tutors were queried on their employment and working conditions.

Thus, the study is the most comprehensive survey of the field to date. It investigated, among other things, the effects of limited levels of regulation. Young students (with the exception of Berlin) work in a sector without collective bargaining coverage. In most federal states (Bundesländer) they are either directly or indirectly exempt from staff representation laws. Furthermore, they are subject to special regulations which, on the basis of the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG – German Act on Temporary Academic Contracts), allow any duration and number of contracts over a period of six years. Based on the data, it is illustrated what impact this particular constellation has on the social situation, social structure, design of the contracts and, ultimately, the adherence to workers’ rights. In turn, the example of Berlin shows that an integration of student employees into the “dual system” of regulated employment relations is possible and has a positive effect, both, on the social situation of the employees and on the implementation of their workers’ rights.

The trade unions ver.di and GEW have brought the published findings into the top-level talks held with the Tarifgemeinschaft der Länder (TdL – Employers’ Association of the Länder) to take stock of the employment and working conditions of student employees. From the trade unions’ point of view, these talks should pave the way for collective bargaining for student/academic assistants and tutors.

Hopp, Marvin/ Hoffmann, Ann-Kathrin/ Zielke, Aaron/ Leslie, Lukas/ Seeliger, Martin (2023): Jung, akademisch, prekär. Studentische Beschäftigte an Hochschulen und Forschungseinrichtungen: eine Ausnahme vom dualen System regulierter Arbeitsbeziehungen.

The entire research report can be dowloaded from the website of the Institut für Arbeit und Wirtschaft. (in German)