Ver.di is currently negotiating with the management of uni-assist to agree a company based tariff agreement on behalf of the Ver.di members at uni-assist. The company was founded in 2003 by 41 German universities. The aim was “to make the admissions process for international applicants easier, cheaper, more efficient, and above all user-friendlier” (from the uni-assist company articles https://www.uni-assist.de/ueber-uns/organisationsstruktur/). Currently uni-assist is responsible for the processing of applications to over 180 member universities.
In the following text we would like to answer your questions about our company based tariff agreement:
1. What is a company based tariff agreement and why does uni-assist need one?
At the moment the workers at uni-assist are employed with widely differing conditions. Even though uni-assist was founded by, and works for the universities, the workers at uni-assist do not enjoy the same working conditions as the colleagues at the member universities. Only a proportion of the workers at uni-assist are paid according to the TVöD framework. A company based tariff agreement would ensure fair and transparent rules for working conditions e.g. salary, holidays, and contract duration. This is the only way for uni-assist to continue to find motivated and competent colleagues, and so to achieve a prompt and professional evaluation of your applications. The processing of your application is an important responsibility and must be remunerated accordingly.
2. Is my application going to be more expensive now?
Our answer to this is crystal clear: No, we absolutely do not want the applicants to carry the costs of our company agreement, not under any circumstances!
Currently uni-assist is financed solely through your application fees, despite the fact that uni-assist has taken over an essential and extensive set of responsibilities from the universities, namely the evaluation of foreign qualifications. The universities are not presently obliged to pay for these services and it is the applicants who carry the bulk of the costs. The articles of uni-assist make provision for the possibility of membership fees for the member universities: “The Company shall finance itself through fees levied from the applicants, contributions to the costs made by the universities, donations, state subsidies and likewise, should the general assembly of members determine it necessary, through membership and entrance fees”. So far no membership fee has been paid by any member university. If they choose to, the universities are free to assume the payment for our evaluation so that applicants do not have to pay. At the moment only a very few universities make use of the opportunity.
The current situation at uni-assist shows that the present financial model, which is based almost exclusively on the levying of fees from applicants, is neither sustainable nor stable. We reckon this has to change! At the federal level great value is placed on the internationalisation of the universities (source: https://www.bmbf.de/de/internationalisierung-der-hochschulen-924.html). It’s high time for the universities to welcome international applicants by making a financial contribution to financing the uni-assist evaluation and thereby removing the onus from the applicants themselves.
3. Why do the universities even need uni-assist?
The international team at uni-assist – many of us are not German ourselves – has extensive expert knowledge in the field of international qualifications. In the different regional teams we specialise on various geographic areas and guarantee that all applications are evaluated accurately and competently, regardless of the country from which the applicant comes. The international office of a single university would never be able to acquire our level of expertise in the world’s various educational systems. It makes sense therefore for an organisation to complete this work centrally. In our opinion, the abolishment of uni-assist is for most universities neither a sensible nor an achievable proposition. Surely you too would want your qualifications to be checked by someone who is specialised in the educational system of your country? With uni-assist you can apply to numerous universities with a single application, saving yourself time and work.
4. What will the consequences of the company agreement be for my application?
We want to be absolutely clear that we will do our best to ensure that you won’t even notice the ongoing negotiation process. We hope for a speedy resolution and a good company based tariff agreement.