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“Lower Saxony's higher education landscape now richter”: Björn Thümler, minister for science and culture said at the conference of universities of the state held at Leuphana

2017-11-29 One of his first appointments as Lower Saxony's new Minister of Science and Culture led him to the Conference of Universities of the State (CUS) in Lüneburg: Björn Thümler (CDU) attended a meeting with the presidents of Lower Saxony's universities on Monday. The meeting dealt with future higher education policy.

From left to right: Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich (Chairman CUS), Björn Thümler (Minister for Science and Culture), Sascha Spoun (President of Leuphana University)

Only days after his accession to office, Björn Thümler made time right at the start for the Conference of Universities of the State. Lower Saxony's Science Minister spoke of a “new cooperation chapter” during his visit and underlined the need for close collaboration: The new state government wants to make greater use of the universities’ innovation potential for social progress and to secure prosperity more than ever before.

In this context, Minister Thümler referred to digitisation as an important topic – a “Herculean task” in his view. “I am convinced that it is essentially in the hands of science to master societal challenges, such as digitisation” he explained. In the same breath, he encouraged cooperation between industry and universities. “Not according to the principle of: ‘We are the ones who pay for science and will determine what it does’, but rather: Science is the engine for innovation in Lower Saxony”.  A practice which Leuphana is already applying in numerous projects and programmes in all areas of science: with its transdisciplinary competence profile, where research is concerned, Leuphana also relies on close cooperation with partners from the industry.

Also referring to the internationalisation of universities Björn Thümler reiterated at the meeting at Leuphana that “We want Lower Saxony to have strong universities”. “We will only move forward when we learn from the world’s best; when we look around ourselves, and present ourselves internationally”. In the words of the Chairman of Conference of Universities of the State, the University at Lüneburg is resolutely following this path. “Leuphana occupies a position on the international scene”, stressed Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h. c. Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich, who then pointed out that he was “thrilled” by the Main Building designed by the American star architect Daniel Libeskind.

The Minister of Science and Culture shared Björn Thümler’s view that something new had been created that breathed a spirit completely different from that of the former barracks. As far as the financing of the Central Building is concerned, he still sees the state of Lower Saxony on board: “When the government was handed over, all agreed that it would be financed by the Ministry of Finance and the university”, he said, then added: “What has been created here makes the Lower Saxony university landscape richer. It would be very unfortunate indeed, if, as a state or a society, one were no longer prepared to invest in such areas”.

Urte Modlich, University Communication. News from the university surrounding the areas of research, teaching and study can be sent to