Overseas PhD students applying this year to work at Germany's Max Planck Society (MPG) are set to be the first to benefit from changes to a controversial employment rule that had prevented foreign students from getting full employment contracts.

The MPG is an independent basic research organization that funds 80 different institutes with more than 12,000 staff members and 9000 PhD students, postdocs, visiting researchers, and student assistants.

Last year, PhD student Andrea Raccanelli, now at the University of Bonn, conducted a survey showing that 99% of German PhD students at the MPG had regular contracts with health, unemployment, and pension benefits, while 84% of the non-German PhD students had scholarships without such benefits.

Raccanelli, who organized a network of PhD students at the MPG, took the case to Germany's Court of Labour, accusing MPG of discrimination. The case was passed on to the European Court of Justice, which is...

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