I am a master student at a big university in Germany. I am not a chemistry student myself, but as I am active in university politics, an issue was brought to me that I am not sure how to deal with.
Master students in chemistry have to do mandatory lab hours to be admitted to the exam for some specific modules. During these lab hours they synthesize chemicals for semi-commercial research projects which is a win-win situation for the professors and the students as students get in touch with real research and the professors get a lot of work done.
The problem is that over the last years a lot of postdoc and doctarate positions got cancelled because of an austerity program. The professors subsequently assigned more and more lab hours while decreasing the hours for self-study to stay within the 30 hours/credit point requirement. The demand for knowledge from the lectures stayed the same, so students actually need the same amount of self-study as before. There seems to be a big conflict of interests.
I cannot prove it, but sources from the working groups told me that at least one professor informally made clear, that he is well aware of this issue, but chooses to take benefits from it.
I am not asking if this is ethical as this is clearly not the case. I am asking what I can do to end this exploitation of master students. Who is the right person to talk to about these issues? Is it even adequate maybe to take legal action against the faculty?