The executive boards of Hessen’s universities welcome agreements and provisions on research and teaching in the new state government’s coalition contract. The coalition contract was a main topic during the first meeting of the Conference of Hessen University Executive Boards (KHU: Konferenz Hessischer Universitätspräsidien) in the new year at Goethe University in Frankfurt. The presidents felt particularly optimistic that the contract incorporated several main demands from the election touchstones developed and intensively communicated by the universities for applied sciences (HAW: Hochschulen für angewandte Wissenschaften).
KHU Speaker Professor Birgitta Wolff, Goethe University President, said: „The coalition contract provides a good foundation for further specifications and implementation within the upcoming negotiations on the university pact.”
The KHU chair highlighted five points in the new coalition contract:
The universities welcome the announcement of an increase in basic funding and expect that all Hessen universities will receive at least 4 percent more funding beginning in 2021.
The demand contained in the election touchstones for additional professorships to improve the teacher-student ratio at Hessen Universities is met in the coalition contract by 451 new professorships. The KHU expects provisions for setting up these professorships at the universities to be provided at a competitive level.
The KHU has taken note of the announcement to raise the university construction programme HEUREKA by € 50 million per year starting in 2021. It points out, however, that this only covers the expected increase in constructions costs. It will do nothing to relieve the enormous renovation backlog at Hessen university sites. The KHU furthermore emphasizes that according to the coalition contract, additional funding to be determined according to need, is also to be budgeted.
The issue of digitalization was also addressed by the state government with a sum of € 1 billion in the coming legislative period. However, a digitalization initiative by the state can only be successfully implemented if the universities have a leading role.
Finally, the restructuring and increase of the LOEWE programme also meets the demands of the KHU.
The KHU chair extended an invitation to the new state government, in particular the new Minister Angela Dorn, to engage in positive and constructive dialogue, and expressed thanks for the creative vision with regard to the sustained development of the Hessen university landscape expressed in the coalition contract.
Hessen’s five universities have come together to form the Konferenz Hessischer Universitätspräsidien (KHU; Conference of Hessen University Executive Boards). The executive boards of Technische Universität Darmstadt, Goethe University Frankfurt, Justus Liebig University Gießen, the University of Kassel and Phillips-Universität Marburg hold regular meetings. The universities constituting the KHU issue joint statements on current developments in university politics, especially within the state of Hessen, but also on challenges in education and research politics at the national and European level. Their objective is to guarantee and increase the competitive edge of Hessen’s universities.