Future economy policy as stated by the great coalition in Berlin was just one of the topics discussed intensively at the annual reception which took place at Kiel University on Wednesday January 29, 2014. Almost one year prior to the 350-year anniversary of the State University, approximately 300 guests – among them politicians, media representatives, scientists and industrial representatives – discussed the research policy. Among them was the president of the German Research Foundation (DFG), Professor Peter Strohschneider. The reception featured music from Julia Ellend and Maike Hansen, who performed works by Haydn, Dall’Abaco and Händel, as well as the group „das leise trio“. Kiel University is the largest university in Schleswig-Holstein. It employs approximately 4,000 people; over 24,200 students are currently enrolled in 185 curricula at Kiel University and it receives a total allocation of 300 Million Euros.
Five months prior to the end of his six-year presidency term, Professor Gerhard Fouquet described the state of Kiel University as being both gratifying and alarming. In his opening speech he raised the critical question: “Through the Higher Education Pact (Hochschulpakt), the federal government and the federal states are helping to cushion the impact of the strong increase in student numbers since 2005. But how sustainable is the effect on funding projects? And how can we improve teaching with regard to teachers and students? Until 2017, the Federal Government and the federal states should agree on how a solid funding for universities in Germany can be achieved. A volatile project funding of this kind is no longer acceptable. Moreover, teaching should at last be adequately financed. “The coming Excellence Initiative has to sustain the changes that take place between 2006 and 2016”, the President demanded.
Secretary of Science Rolf Fischer noted in his opening remarks that 2014 will be an interesting and important year for higher education policy. Besides issues of the new Higher Education Act, teacher training, open access strategies and new career options for scientists, the question arises whether universities of Applied Science should be able to award doctoral degrees.
A definite “No” was the response Fischer received from the president of the German Research Foundation (DFG), Peter Strohschneider. In his lecture “On the Complexity of a Research University” he examined the role of the university as a European model of success and as a particular organisation for creating knowledge over centuries – caught in the interplay between disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, the search for truth and relevance to society. “The scientific community has to allow a university so much space that matters of relevance will not paralyse the creative dynamic of disciplines”, stressed the former chairman of the Scientific Council and demanded a solid funding for universities.
The opening speech by the President of Kiel University Gerhard Fouquet can be downloaded at (German):