German minister stripped of doctorate over plagiarism

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 06, 2013 07:30 hrs

Berlin, Feb 6 (IANS) The University of Dusseldorf Tuesday announced its decision to withdraw the doctorate degree of German Education Minister Annette Schavan after an investigation into the minister's 1980 dissertation.

The decision was made after a six-hour closed-door meeting of a committee consisting of eight professors, two academic and two non-academic staff and three students, who voted with 12 in favour, two against and one abstention, reported Xinhua.

Schavan has previously insisted that the "baseless" accusations that she had falsely quoted and failed to source parts of her thesis, entitled "Person and Conscience", would be refuted.

But the committee found the 57-year-old minister to have "systematically and deliberately feigned and cheated in the intellectual attainment", according to Bruno Bleckmann, dean of the faculty at the University of Dusseldorf.

Just two weeks ago the panel formally opened the proceedings for withdrawal of Schavan's doctorate title with 14 votes in favour and one abstention.

The accusation of Schavan's doctorate dissertation on suspicion of plagiarism caught the limelight in earlier 2012 when anonymous allegations against the minister emerged on the internet and sparked debates.

Schavan is not the first German minister to run up against plagiarism claims.

Former defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, resigned from his post in 2011 after it emerged he copied large parts of his doctoral thesis.

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