Lifestyle & Belief

Annette Schavan, German education minister, resigns over PhD plagiarism scandal


German Education Minister Annette Schavan is fighting for her political life after the University of Dusseldorf stripped her of her doctorate for plagiarism.


Sean Gallup

Annette Schavan, the German education minister who was stripped of her PhD after it was revealed the she had plagiarized, has resigned in the wake of the scandal. 

"Annette Schavan offered her resignation last night," Merkel told reporters, according to Reuters. "I accepted this resignation with a very heavy heart." 

Schavan, a close ally of Merkel's, said she would fight last week's decision by Duesseldorf's Heinrich Heine University to remove her doctorate following review, BBC News reported

The commission ruled that Schavan "systematically and intentionally presented intellectual performance that in reality she did not generate herself" 30 years ago when writing her PhD in philosophy, the Guardian reported

"Dear Angela," Schavan opened her resignation, thanking Merkel for her friendship. "I think today is the right day to leave my ministerial post and to concentrate on my duties as a member of parliament."

"I will not accept the university's decision," she reiterated, according to the BBC. "I have never copied nor plagiarized. The accusations hit me very hard."

"I will not accept the decision and will take legal action against it," Schavan told reporters. "When an (education) minister sues a university, then that comes with strains, for my office, for the ministry, the government and for the Christian Democrats. I want to avoid just that."

Schavan, who oversaw Germany's universities, had harshly criticized Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned as defense minister over a plagiarized thesis in 2011, the Guardian reported. 

Merkel's center-right coalition has argued that the PhD scandal was a politically motivated set-up intended to damage the party's reputation as they approach federal elections in the fall, Reuters reported. 

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