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Report by the Office of the Presidium of the GDR Government on University and College Admissions for the 1957/58 Academic Year (December 21, 1957)

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Given the ratio of applicants to available slots, the number of complaints is relatively small. Compared to the previous year, the number of complaints has declined significantly. The majority of complaints come from the ranks of the intelligentsia and white-collar workers. The applicant numbers provided above make clear that not all applicants in those categories could be admitted. Another aggravating factor among applicants from the ranks of the intelligentsia is the large number of individual privilege holders*, who, as a result of the assurance they received in the individual privilege, insist that these promises be kept no matter what, and simply do not accept rejection.

The universities and the Technical College of Dresden had more than 700 applications from applicants whose fathers were holders of individual privileges. Of those, 300 were admitted, and more than 100 will be matriculated for the 1957/58 academic year after completing their year of practical work. More than 300 applicants in this category were rejected. These rejections were unavoidable, because admission in these cases would have meant a reduction in the proportion of children of workers and farmers, and also of the proportion of children of white-collar workers – in other words, a reduction in favor of applicants who were objectively and socially less qualified. Such a reduction would have been incompatible with the idea of seeing the universities and colleges as solidarity-driven educational institutions.

It is obvious that numerous inadequacies and deficiencies in the ideological firmness of students result not least from the admissions policy, which has been excessively concerned with keeping the assurances made in the individual contracts, even if the necessary objective and social preconditions did not exist.

Moreover, a reduction in the proportion of applicants from the ranks of white-collar workers in favor of the intelligentsia is not recommended. These applicants are for the most part recruited from the children of employees of government bodies and Socialist enterprises, mostly parents with a Socialist past and people who have also been outstanding participants in the build-up of Socialism. Apart from objective qualities, applicants from this category bring with them, by virtue of their upbringing, a proclivity and willingness for social commitment, and they constitute a good element at the universities.

Second to the intelligentsia, most complaints come from the circles of these applicants.

Appeals from white-collar workers and tradesmen were directed mostly against the rejection. In part, these complaints pointed to the fact that the children of workers and farmers, or the children of the members of the intelligentsia with poorer qualifications were admitted [ahead of their children]. A few comrades were also among these complainants. The review process revealed that the admission committees were inadequately informed as a result of a lack of documentation. In most cases, it was possible to reverse the decision.

Appeals from the circles of the intelligentsia were directed either against the rejection or against placement in the practical work-year program. In many cases, the demand was for a profession-related work experience (medicine – hospital). These demands cannot be considered, lest they endanger the success of the practical year.

There were few complaints from workers and farmers. In some cases, other fields could be recommended. In general, the decisions of the admission committees proved correct.

The observations made during the review process indicate that the ideological aspect was also given adequate consideration in admissions. The high proportion of workers’ and farmers’ children alone points to that. Even more so the careful selection in a few fields, in which extreme instability has been evidenced in the past with respect to ideological firmness, consciousness, and a clear Socialist perspective. For example, in veterinary medicine, only applicants who could demonstrate practical work were admitted. The ideological element was given special consideration through the introduction of the practical year.

* Privileges [Einzelverträge] for university admission were given to some individuals and their families if the GDR government considered them particularly important – trans.

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