Minister denies plagiarising doctoral thesis

February 07, 2013 - 6:05:25 am

BERLIN: Germany’s education minister said yesterday she will not resign after a university found she had plagiarised parts of her thesis but will instead fight the ruling — a major embarrassment for the government in an election year.

Annette Schavan, 57, is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the second minister in her Cabinet to lose a doctorate because of plagiarism. Former Defence Minister Karl-Theodorzu Guttenberg resigned in 2011 after it emerged he copied large parts of his thesis. Duesseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University voted on Tuesday to remove Schavan’s doctorate after a thorough review of her 1980 thesis undertaken after an anonymous blogger raised plagiarism allegations.

On an official trip to South Africa, Schavan, who has always denied the allegations, said she would fight the ruling. “I will not accept the University of Duesseldorf’s decision and I will take legal action against it,” she told reporters yesterday in Johannesburg, the dpa news agency reported. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that the chancellor had been in contact with Schavan and “has the fullest confidence 

in her.” But the university’s decision prompted calls from opposition politicians for Schavan’s resignation, saying that she was in an untenable position because her ministry is responsible for education and science.

“She needs to step down because she can no longer be regarded as a role model and is harming science,” Andrea Nahles, the general secretary of the opposition Social Democrats, said according to dpa. Doctorates are highly prized in Germany, where it is not unusual for people to insist on being referred to by their full academic title. AP

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