To The Editor:

Citing statements made by a former scholarship student at a Max Planck Institute, an article in The Scientist alleged that the Max Planck Society (MPG) discriminates against foreign Ph.D. students by granting them scholarships, whereas German Ph.D. students receive work contracts. The cited scholarship student has taken his case against the MPG to labour court.

Indeed, the MPG does employ German Ph.D. students with work contracts, whereas foreign Ph.D. students are granted scholarships. The net payments made are more or less comparable in both cases. The differences arise in terms of social security. While work contracts are subject to social security benefit payments, scholarships are not. The two arrangements, however, are completely different in their design and intent, and also entail entirely different obligations. Ph.D. students on regular employment contracts are under obligation towards the MPG to perform a defined scope and volume of work. Ph.D. students...

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