Germany’s famed reputation for educational excellence has been hit by a scandal over degrees for sale. Prosecutors are investigating up to one hundred professors suspected of taking bribes to help students get their doctorates. It’s claimed some students paid an intermediary up to 20,000 euros for their Ph.Ds.
“All disciplines are involved, including the so-called classics: law, medicine and philosophy, as well as technical faculties,” said prosecutor Gunther Feld. A company near Cologne allegedly acted as a go-between. The impressive-sounding Institute for Scientific Consulting is said to have funnelled students’ cash to professors in exchange for degrees. Most of the professors under suspicion work under contract rather than as full-time teachers. Some are even accused of improving students’ work themselves if it was not up to scratch. “For several years now we have proposed adding new rules obliging students to declare that they haven’t accepted outside help in writing their thesis,” said Bernhard Kempen from the German Universities’ Association. The latest investigation was sparked by the jailing last year of a professor at Hannover University who took bribes worth 180,000 euros from the Cologne institute to organise degrees for allegedly unworthy students.