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Moving Forward with Renewed Strength and a Defined Profile: Science and Humanities Council Considers the University of Potsdam a Driving Force

Media information 29-01-2024 / No. 012

Continuing to set a good example, initiating new collaborations, and enhancing its own profile – that is what the German Science and Humanities Council expects from the University of Potsdam. The largest university in the state has "consolidated its outstanding position and gained visibility beyond the state's borders," the experts write. It also succeeded in "strengthening research to a remarkable extent." There was also potential for development in computer science, digital humanities, and digital health that should be exploited, the report continued. In these fields, the expansion of interdisciplinary, cross-faculty projects could give the University of Potsdam and the state of Brandenburg even more nationwide recognition. In order to raise the profile of teaching and studies, the committee recommends that the university continue to test innovative approaches, integrate international students to a larger extent, and to zero in on the master's degree programs it offers to align them with the research profile of the University of Potsdam. It recognizes teacher training as an essential component of the teaching portfolio and acknowledges the high amount of practical components that have been established parts of the programs for years as well as the anchoring of teacher training in research. In order to advance Brandenburg's higher education system as a whole, the state government should establish a better governance and funding system in cooperation with the universities in the future, the report emphasizes. This means supporting the universities in achieving their goals by giving them the necessary freedom to develop and raise their profile. The Science and Humanities Council has summarized its assessments in a 620-page report. It welcomes the fact that "the UP wants to make more use of the great transfer potential, particularly in the field of education, and further expand cooperation with schools and educational institutions outside the school system in Potsdam and the surrounding area." The experts strongly recommend that the university "consider the promotion of democracy as an important task, participate in social discussion and negotiation processes and thus contribute to the democratic shaping of society."

The Science and Humanities Council recommends that university contracts be expanded into a central and strategically designed management tool and underpinned by a reliable and adequate funding commitment. The complicated and fragmented funding distribution model with numerous special funds for the universities is outdated and should be "transferred to a basic budget that can be managed freely." Prof. Oliver Günther, Ph.D., President of the University of Potsdam, views the report as a positive sign: "It clearly shows that cutting-edge research is essential for a state like Brandenburg." In the future, the universities should negotiate strategic goals with the state and receive reliable funding, including some creative freedom. "To achieve this – and this is also confirmed by the Science and Humanities Council – a continuation of the yearly funding increases in ‘5 million EUR steps’ is essential," emphasizes the University President. In return, the expert council expects the University of Potsdam to underpin and consolidate its "impressive collaboration network with non-university research institutions" through strategic planning and to generate momentum in a flexible and dynamic manner. At the same time, the goal for transfer activities must be to strengthen scientific advice provided to society and politics. The Science and Humanities Council also calls for changes in university construction projects; a lack of resources and dysfunctional processes are working against the competitiveness of the system: "I am glad that the Science and Humanities Council addressed the issue of space and construction," says Prof. Günther, who advocates for building and rental models based on the Austrian approach among politicians. "I recently proposed a program to the state parliament according to which around 100 million EUR should be invested in construction each year over the next decade in order to solve the spatial problems in Brandenburg with lasting effect. This would also include all new buildings required for the university medicine center in Lusatia. The University of Potsdam is open to taking on the role of principal for construction projects in accordance with the recommendations for its campuses," the President explains. Of course, this could not be realized with existing funds, but would have to be fed into the university’s budget by the institutions that are currently in charge of it, Günther continued. The University of Potsdam is ready to fulfill its role as a driving force for an efficient and attractive scientific landscape in Brandenburg, Oliver Günther asserted. The recommendations will now be examined in detail and implemented in close coordination with the state government of Brandenburg.

You can find further information in the press release of the Ministry of Science.

Contact: Dr. Silke Engel, Spokesperson of the University
Phone: +49 331 977-1474
E-Mail: presseuni-potsdamde

Media information 29-01-2024 / No. 012