Public Letter to the Senat of Berlin

Dear Senator Schreiner, Dear Senator Czyborra, Dear members of the public,

We are contacting you because we still have not received a legally valid contract from the VBB and there is still no response to the problems we have communicated.

These problems are as followed:

We see the following problems in §1 of the contract:

d. Students in part-time degree programs.

This is not a direct problem at the TU Berlin as we do not have any real dual study programs, and even if this was the case, there is no guarantee that there will be a cheap job ticket via the employer in this case. At the same time, we as a student body are supposed to sign a contract “for the students of the universities according to § 1 paragraph 1” (BerlHG). There are no further exceptions. The situation is different for other universities in Berlin.

e. Students who take a semester of leave or a semester abroad,

Students who are absent from the university for study-related reasons are exempt according to the BerlHG. However, students on leave of absence are still students even if they are not entitled to attend a course during the semester. Even if proof of attendance is provided, it is not possible to be exempted retrospectively, for example, if a semester of leave is only taken in the first few weeks of study. Previously, students were able to apply for a remission of the semester ticket fee during the semester of leave, but it is not clear why this regulation is now being restricted in both directions.

g. Students who complete a course of study with fewer than 15 credit points per semester,

Here, too, the VBB is arbitrarily limiting the definition of who is validated as a student and who is not. At the same time, the limit is completely arbitrary. With regard to the citizen’s allowance, there is a maximum study period of 7.5 credit points per semester so that students remain available to the labour market. However, this does not change the fact that these students are still students according to the BerlHG. Previously, part-time students could be exempted upon application. However, it is not possible to control this very specific regulation either upwards or downwards and there are also no technically feasible application options for the subsequent withdrawal of the ticket or for the subsequent collection of funds.

h. Students who are enrolled on supplementary, additional or postgraduate courses of study or who are participating in postgraduate courses and doctoral students.

This is the first time in Germany that doctoral students have been deprived of the semester ticket. Previously, they were also able to apply for exemption. But why doctoral students should not be students is incomprehensible. This excludes thousands of students in Berlin from the ticket.

All these redefinitions of what and how students are now defined, ensure that the principle of equality is called into question and suddenly students are not equal to students in the sense of the law.

§2 (6) + Annex

This describes a process that does not comply with the Student Data Ordinance of the State of Berlin. The process ensures that students who do not have an NFC-capable smartphone cannot use the ticket. There have already been several inquiries to our AStA about this.

§4 Exemptions

Students who have a job ticket or a social ticket are definitely missing here. In the first case, it could happen that students would purchase two tickets if the employer were to provide the ticket to all employees as a monetary benefit. In the other case, a social benefit that the state of Berlin has decided on would be withheld. If we as the student body were to withhold an exemption at these points, we would be acting against the will of the legislature. With the Berlin Ticket S and the Jobticket, the legislator wants to promote certain actions of society and provide those in need of social benefits with a low-cost public transportation option. We do not understand why the old regulations for vacation and part-time semesters could not be retained.

The VBB communicated to us the student representative: We always wanted to change that. The fact that the VBB is using the limited time at this point to throw the contractual basis overboard in such a way is a massive blow to our confidence in fair negotiations.

We all realize that time is of the essence. We can no longer negotiate but must get down to implementation. That is why we have a counter-proposal to the agreement. We have adapted some of the many problems so that students are not at an immediate disadvantage. We can still address many of the other problems – especially with regard to the basic ticket issuing process – for the coming semesters. But for now, we need your help as senators:

Please advocate on our behalf for the VBB to sign our draft contract. Alternatively, please ensure that the state companies BVG or the state service provider S-Bahn Berlin GMBH signs the contract with us.

And we are asking for your support in the coming months to get the semester ticket back on track. Enclosed you will find the VBB’s proposal and our counter-offer.


More informations about how the semesterticket works:

More informations what we have done in the last year:

Our pro and contra points: 

Our FAQ: