July 4, 2022

German minister for education and research loses job in plagiarism scandal

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, losing one minister because he plagiarised his PhD thesis is a misforture; losing two looks like carelessness. But this is what has happened to Germany’ys Chancellor, Angela Merkel. This week she accepted the resignation of her minister for education and research, Annette Schavan, after the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf stripped her of a doctorate which she earned 30 years ago.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, losing one minister because he plagiarised his PhD thesis is a misforture; losing two looks like carelessness. But this is what has happened to Germany’ys Chancellor, Angela Merkel. This week she accepted the resignation of her minister for education and research, Annette Schavan, after the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf stripped her of a doctorate which she earned 30 years ago.

The allegations surfaced when an anonymous blogger published on-line passages from the thesis which appeared to have been copied from other sources.

Ms Schavan angrily denies the allegations and plans to appeal the decision, but she has become a liability in an election year. She is the second of Merkel’s ministers to resign over a plagiarism scandal. In 2011, Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was also forced to resign.

The university’s statement was stark: “As a doctoral candidate, she systematically and deliberately presented intellectual efforts throughout her entire dissertation that were not her own”. Ironically, the topic of her thesis was “Character and conscience”.  

MIchael Cook
Creative commons
Germany
plagiarism