Document Actions

You are here: Home Newsroom Press Releases 2019 Investing in Teaching and Research …

Investing in Teaching and Research Means Investing in the Future

Rector Hans-Jochen Schiewer calls for better higher education funding at the opening of the 2019/20 academic year at the University of Freiburg

Freiburg, Oct 23, 2019

Investing in Teaching and Research Means Investing in the Future

Rector Hans-Jochen Schiewer at the opening of the Academic Year 2019/20. Photo: Jürgen Gocke

Baden-Württemberg is currently the number one region for innovation in Europe – but that will only remain so in the future with adequate and much better higher education funding. At the official opening of the 2019/20 academic year at the University of Freiburg, Rector Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer explained what the outcome of the ongoing negotiations on a new higher education funding agreement means for the state’s higher education landscape: A three percent annual adjustment in basic funding does not even cover the existing budgetary deficits of the state universities.

The rector called on everyone to take part in the statewide day of action to be held by students with the slogan “Hochgeschult – kaputtgespart” and by the universities under the motto “No Science, No Future” on 30 October 2019. The demonstration in Freiburg will be organized by the student government and is scheduled to begin at 12 o’clock noon on the Platz der Alten Synagoge. “We are proud of our students, who are providing a sound and detailed explanation for why the state needs to invest more money in its future and in its qualifications – as well as in good working conditions for all employees, whether in teaching, in administration, or in service positions,” stressed Schiewer.

The rector backed up these financial demands with facts: All of Baden-Württemberg’s state universities together have an annually recurring budgetary deficit of 45 million euros, seven million of which falls to the University of Freiburg – because they are the only universities that are required to pay the rising costs for things like cleaning, safety, maintenance, rent for buildings, or furnishings for lecture halls from their own budget, although they do not receive the necessary funding to do so.  All of the state universities together have 25,000 students more than they have places for admission – the University of Freiburg has no funding for 2200 students. The funding per place for admission has fallen in the past two decades, and the universities lack 3540 euros per student today in comparison to the year 1998.

“In spite of these burdens, we have continued to produce top results,” said Schiewer. According to a study conducted by the State Rectors’ Conference, the gross value added of the state universities is 2.80 euros for every euro invested by the state. All of the state universities together raised a total of 1.2 billion euros in third-party funding in the year 2017 – with Freiburg alone raising 179 million. They achieve outstanding positions on international rankings – Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Tübingen, for instance, are placed in the global top 100 on the Times Higher Education Ranking. Freiburg occupies a top position particularly with regard to the promotion of young researchers – whether one considers Starting Grants from the European Research Council, the Heisenberg Program, Emmy Noether Groups, or Heinz Maier-Leibniz Prizes from the German Research Foundation.

“These achievements and this dedication must not jeopardized by insufficient higher education funding,” warned Schiewer: The state universities have argued that they need an additional 172 million euros in funding; the state has agreed to offer 7.8 million euros so far. The rector of the University of Freiburg therefore endorses the political signal that the statewide day of action intends to send out: “We hope this won’t be the last word.”

Rector's speech (pdf, in German)



This year the University of Freiburg presented 39 awards for the promotion of young academics worth a total of 102,300 euros to its 54 best early-stage researchers – 31 to young male researchers and 23 to young female researchers. Since 1989, private individuals and university institutions have provided more than 2.5 million euros for awards for the promotion of young academics. The award recognizes outstanding research work. Awardees are nominated by the faculties.

Brochure with all winners of awards for the promotion of young academics (pdf)

The booster association Alumni Freiburg e.V. awarded the “Alumni Prize for Social Involvement,” worth 2000 euros, to the student initiative Nachhaltigkeitsbüro (Sustainability Office) for its commitment to environmental protection. The initiative is run by members of existing university groups, the environmental department of the General Student Committee, and other interested students. The goal is to establish a student-led sustainability office to coordinate student and university sustainability activities. In the 2019 summer semester, the students organized an interdisciplinary lecture series that is being integrated into the interdisciplinary area of professional skills in the 2019/20 winter semester. The series was designed as a model format with the aim of laying the foundations for a “studium oecologicum” at the University of Freiburg. Moreover, the students organize regular networking meetings for student groups conducting social-ecological work and participate in university sustainability bodies like the Sustainable University Work Group. Together with the Office of Environmental Conservation and the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, they launched a project called “Flying Faculties” in September 2019. Its aim is to collect systematic data on greenhouse gas emissions produced at the faculty through business trips. They see it as an important step toward establishing comprehensive environmental reporting at the University of Freiburg.

Further prizes were also awarded at the event: The University of Freiburg presented one University Teaching Award for outstanding achievements each to Prof. Dr. Horst Fischer from the Institute of Physics, Prof. Dr. Michael Müller from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Julia Gurol and Ingo Henneberg from the Department of Political Science. The total prize money amounts to 10,000 euros. The Special Prize for Outstanding Student Involvement went to Isabel Gana Dresen, Gynna Lüschow, and Tobias Becker. The students from the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology received the 500-euro award for organizing an interdisciplinary summer school.

Press release on the University Teaching Award and the Special Prize for Student Involvement