Pressemitteilung 2015/067 vom

Leipzig University Professor of Biochemistry Annette Beck-Sickinger apologized on Monday for her comments to a student from India about social conditions in his country: "I have made a mistake."

The professor recently turned down the student’s email application for an internship because no openings were available. The student did not accept her reasoning and involved her in a discussion about the social conditions in Germany and India. In her response, she mentioned the problem of women in India being raped.

"It was never my intention to make a defamatory comment about Indian society. I do not have anything against Indian students - on the contrary. I sincerely apologise to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt." In her module 'Bioorganic Chemistry’ in the International Masters Programme, four of her thirty students are from India. At present, two guest students from India are already participating in her current laboratory internship.

She refuted the assumption that she turned down the young Indian student’s application for an internship because of the problem of violence against women in India. Professor Beck-Sickinger stated: "I never wrote the mail in this way, it has been put together from individual segments taken from different mails." She wrote to the student that there were no openings available in the laboratory and she stressed: "I do not reject students because of reasons of race or gender." Her comments were taken out of context, Beck-Sickinger said. "I am by no means racist or xenophobic in any way."

The rector of Leipzig University, Professor Beate Schücking, emphasized the open-mindedness of the University, there is no room for racist statements or thinking. She contended: "The percentage of students from abroad in Leipzig has increased every year and young students from abroad are most welcome. Professor Beck-Sickinger is a member of several academic and administrative bodies with a great array of international contacts. From the point of view of the University she has followed the correct and suitable path to avoid misunderstandings and to express her apologies."

At the moment 44 students from India are registered with University of Leipzig, 15 of them are female.