State invests €6.6 million in digital university infrastructure
Prien and Madsen: “A great boost for teaching, research and technology transfer”
A powerful investment boost in the digital infrastructure of Schleswig-Holstein’s university landscape. As Minister of Education and Science, Karin Prien, explained today (31 August) in Kiel together with Minister of Economic Affairs and Technology, Claus Ruhe Madsen, the state is to be providing just under €6.6 million until the middle of 2023 for the construction of a “virtualised data centre”.
Both ministers handed over the corresponding official funding notice symbolically to the President of Kiel University (CAU), Prof. Dr Simone Fulda, and Helge Illig, head of IT at the Universität zu Lübeck (UzL). While the CAU will receive around 4.5 million from the grant, the Universität zu Lübeck and the TH Lübeck will get just under €2.1 million.
“The huge demands on IT during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, with online lectures and seminars, clearly demonstrated the need for this investment,” said Prien. She also underlined the fact that it was not just the universities in Kiel and Lübeck which were to gain from this project, but all ten university locations in the state – by setting up cloud solutions, for example. “The future challenges for digitalising universities can also only be solved jointly in a state like Schleswig-Holstein.” This is why a digitalisation offensive for higher education has been concluded in the coalition agreement, under which improvements should be achieved in both the digital skills of teachers and students as well as the digital infrastructure.
According to Minister of Economic Affairs Claus Ruhe Madsen, the money from the state’s economic programme is a real investment in the future. “Even if at first it is spent on pure technological equipment like new servers and storage memories, the latest software solutions or various network infrastructures – this all forms the basis for successful technology transfer between higher education institutes and the economy. Plus it also enables us to train our next generation of academic talent into top specialists,” Madsen said.
One particularly positive aspect, according to the two ministers, is that the universities in Kiel and Lübeck are operating in close alliance as the so-called lead partners, whereas the other eight public higher education institutes benefit from the project as associated partners.
The EU programme “Next Generation EU” is behind the funding, via which €750 billion will be provided over the coming years throughout Europe to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Schleswig-Holstein is due to receive €59.1 million.
CAU President Professor Simone Fulda thanked the state and described the planned investment as “setting an important course for the CAU and the universities in Schleswig-Holstein. It will create significant infrastructural foundations for further digitalisation in research, teaching, transfer and administration, which the universities can set up individually. At Kiel University, for example, we recently founded our Digital Science Center under the leadership of Vice-President Professor Eckhard Quandt. This is where we pool our numerous and well-funded digitalisation projects in research, teaching, transfer and administration. The flexibility and reliability of the virtual data centre is a direct advantage for the CAU’s digital transformation into a digitally supported face-to-face university and offers an important technical platform for our diverse digitalisation initiatives.”
In the words of Helge Illig, responsible for IT at the Universität zu Lübeck, the project “Virtualised data centre for Schleswig-Holstein’s universities at two locations” focuses on renewing and expanding the IT infrastructures at the respective computer centres in order to create a joint platform with the aim of offering collaborative, digital services for research, teaching and administration. These will then be available to all the institutes of higher education in Schleswig-Holstein. In addition, there is also the option to have what is known as housing, where universities can put their redundancy systems (replacement systems to increase reliability) into newly created server cabinets. In terms of sustainability, this means that no or fewer back-up server rooms are required at the other locations. Another project at the TH Lübeck includes exchanging active data network components to renew the structured wiring.
In Madsen’s words, the universities’ data centre project was in response to a call by the state in the spring, whereby “investment into the digital infrastructure at universities” was to be funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Within the scope of the state’s economic programme, the funding initiative REACT-EU 2021-2022 is being funded as part of the reaction by the European Union - European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) - to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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