On 27 June, 2012, the government of Baden-Württemberg voted to reinstate student parliaments in the state universities. Student parliaments are statutory bodies in universities in all German states with the exception of Bavaria where, along with Baden-Württemberg, they were abolished in 1977. The reintroduction of student parliaments is supported by the state Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts.
The new law took effect on 14 July, 2012. Democratically-elected representatives now have legal rights to represent the interests of students in universities. As part of the process, statutes must be set up and voted for and elections held. The first of these took place on 12 June, 2013.
What exactly is the student parliament?
The difference between the new student parliament (in German the "Verfasste Studierendenschaft") and other student representative bodies, is that it is a legally-constituted student body, to which all students automatically belong upon enrollment, with its own representative and negotiating rights. It is an independent statutory body of the university answering to the university and not the state of Baden-Württemberg.
What is the role of the student parliament?
The bodies and representatives of the student parliament act as the voice of the students at the university. They are expected to be aware of and actively involved in university politics and operations, as well to support the social, economic and cultural interests of the students. They are expected to promote discussion among students and encourage a sense of political awareness and social responsibility among them. They are also expected to promote equality and work to remove disadvantages within the student body. The student parliament is involved in issues such as the part the university plays in society, in promoting sustainable development and the application of scientific knowledge, as well as the effects these have on society and the environment.
Real life examples of this could be discussion of the effects of the Bologna reform on the university, or negotiating a student semester ticket or better public transport connections with the transport authorities. The parliament can also organize events and invite speakers to inform students about political subjects.