German Education Minister Steps Down, Denying Allegations of Plagiarism

The departing minister, Annette Schavan, said she had “neither copied nor deceived” in her 1980 dissertation and did not accept the verdict of a faculty council at Heinrich Heine University, in Düsseldorf, that decided last week to revoke her doctoral degree. Ms. Schavan’s lawyers plan to appeal that decision.
Ms. Schavan’s resignation marks the second time in less than two years that a cabinet member has stepped down amid allegations of plagiarism.

But the two cases, while high-profile because of their potential to embarrass the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel as an election nears, are hardly isolated in a nation where doctorates are awarded at twice the per-capita rate as in the United States, The New York Times reports.

Germans value doctoral degrees as marks of prestige more than Americans do, and use multiple academic titles before their names, such as “Professor Doctor” or even “Doctor Doctor” for those with two doctoral degrees, the article states. It adds: “Prof. Dr. Volker Rieble, a law professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, calls this obsession ‘title arousal.’”

German Education Minister Annette Schavan announced her resignation on Saturday, just days after a university moved to strip her of her Ph.D. title in a plagiarism scandal surrounding her doctoral dissertation. She announced her decision during a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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