Issue 53, August 2014
bulletHigher Education
bulletUpcoming Event: Education vs. Training: A Contradiction or Productive Synergy?
bulletA Think Tank Promoting Equal Opportunities in Science and Research in Germany - The Center of Excellence Women and Science CEWS
bulletInterview with Prof. Dr. Andreas Bertram, President of Osnabr�ck University of Applied Sciences
bulletInnovation: labfolder - A Digital Notebook that Accelerates Scientific Research
bulletSoftware Campus: Developing the Next Generation of Senior IT Executives
Higher Education 

Are institutions of higher education adequately preparing students to compete in today's global knowledge economy? Are universities realigning their social missions to meet these evolving labor market demands? If so, what role do students, parents, educators, policymakers, and employers play in driving this trend? 


Recent headlines concerning the value and relevance of a university degree in today's society are echoing public sentiment on the topic and fueling further discourse. Earlier this month, The New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof advocated in favor of the inherent value of a traditional liberal arts education in his opinion piece "Don't Dismiss the Humanities." In recent years, fellow journalists have also chimed in on this debate. Vastly differing opinions on the "right" direction for the future of higher education have been reflected in contemporary articles ranging from The New York Times' "Vocation or Exploration? Pondering the Purpose of College" and Bloomberg Businessweek's "College Grads Need Skills, Not Liberal Arts" to The New York Times' "As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry." 

The question of affordability is central to this ongoing debate - especially in the U.S. which has witnessed skyrocketing education costs in which four-year universities and liberal arts colleges are becoming prohibitively expensive for many students. Countries, such as Germany, however, have a long history of top-notch and affordable universities, which are heavily subsidized by the government. In 2013, Germany was home to 392 institutions of higher education, which included 121 universities, 215 universities of applied sciences, and 56 colleges of art and music. 239 of these institutions were publicly funded by the state. 


Germany's diverse higher education landscape offers very successful models of pre-professional education, including its Fachhochschulen or German Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS). Many of these UAS were established in the late 1960's and early 1970's as a reaction to increasing professional demands caused by scientific and technical advances. Hallmarks of a Fachhochschule education include studies strongly oriented to the requirements of specific professional occupations, briefer periods of study, and opportunities for applied research and technology transfer.


What is the purpose of a university education? Is it, narrowly, to ensure a good job after graduation? Or is the point of a university degree to give students a broad liberal arts education that teaches them how to think and write critically? Or can a college education do both? There has been a push in the U.S. and Germany to provide training at the undergraduate level to enable graduates to immediately enter the work force. How are universities in both countries responding to this pressure, and are there promising models that allow for the cooperation and interplay of the liberal arts with vocation-specific training? 

On Wednesday, September 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., join renowned experts at the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York for a discussion on the rapidly changing relationship between a traditional university education and the university degree as preparation for a career.

The panel will include Prof. Philip Altbach, Director of the Center for International Higher Education in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. A distinguished research professor and prolific author, Prof. Altbach was the 2013 winner of NAFSA's Marita Houlihan Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of International Education. He will be joined by Prof. Ulrike Beisiegel, President of Georg-August-Universit�t G�ttingen, who also serves as a vice president of the German Rectors' Conference and as a senator for both the Leibniz Association and the Max Planck Society. This month's featured interview partner, Prof. Andreas Bertram, President of Osnabr�ck University of Applied Sciences, will also speak at the event. 

The panel discussion will be moderated by Prof. Jeffrey Peck, Dean of the Weissmann School of Arts and Sciences and Vice Provost for Global Strategies at Baruch College of The City University of New York. Prof. Peck's current research interests concern the globalization of higher education.

For additional event information, click here. To RSVP by August 28, click here.



Source: Center of Excellence Women and Science CEWS

How many female professors work in Germany? Do male scientists have better chances securing third-party funding than their female counterparts? How does the situation for female scientists in Germany compare to that of their fellow researchers worldwide? 

The Center of Excellence Women and Science CEWS, a Cologne-based think tank, has been focusing on the realization of equal opportunities for women and men in science and research in Germany since it was founded in 2000. Providing food for thought to researchers and policy-makers alike, this science-based center became part of GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in 2006.

CEWS' staff possesses comprehensive expertise in policy consultation, socio-scientific research, knowledge transfer, and monitoring and evaluation of gender equality measures in science. From Norway and Lithuania to Ireland and the UK, CEWS collaborates with many international stakeholders in the field. Both independently and in cooperation with other institutions, CEWS executes high-level German and EU projects related to equal opportunity policy and best-practice measures.

To date, CEWS has successfully raised more than five million euros in funding, which has enabled the institute to carry out 25 projects thus far. Current projects, to name a few, include: GenPORT - An Internet Portal for Sharing Knowledge and Inspiring Collaborative Action on Gender and Science, INTEGER - Institutional Transformation for Effecting Gender Equality in Research, and EFFEKTIV! - For Greater Family Friendliness in German Higher Education Institutions.

CEWS offers a plethora of resources, such as news and statistics on the topic as well as extensive related professional, legal, and literature databases. To further explore CEWS' resources and services, click here.

CEWS welcomes opportunities for new joint projects and international collaborations. To inquire about project partnerships, please contact Anke Lipinsky: [email protected].

Image: � iStock




Founded in 1971, Osnabr�ck University of Applied Sciences (OS UAS) is practice-oriented in both its teaching and research approaches. The university currently educates over 12,500 students at campuses located in Osnabr�ck and Lingen, Germany, as well via cooperative programs at partner universities in Shanghai and Hefei, China. 

Prof. Dr. Andreas Bertram has served as President of this German University of Applied Sciences since 2010. Prior to this role, he held various positions at the institution, which include: Vice President for Academic and Student Services and Dean of Studies for the Department of Agricultural Studies and Landscape Architecture. From 1991 to 1999, he worked at the Technische Universit�t M�nchen (TUM), first as a research assistant and then as an academic assistant at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering. Prof. Dr. Bertram holds a Ph.D. in horticultural science.

This past May, he was elected Vice President of Information and Communication Technology for the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) and a member of its Executive Board. The HRK - the political and public voice of German universities - is a voluntary association of state and state-recognized universities with 258 member institutions that currently serve more than 94 percent of all students in Germany.

In his interview with GCRI, Prof. Dr. Bertram describes how the higher education landscape in Germany has changed over the past decade and where he predicts it is heading. He also explains how a German University of Applied Sciences differs from a typical German university and whether its model could be adopted in the U.S. Lastly, he shares the ways in which Osnabr�ck UAS is working to foster a culture of innovation. To read the full interview, click here.

On September 3, Prof. Dr. Bertram will speak at the GCRI on the future of higher education.

Image: � Oliver Pracht


The Berlin-based start-up labfolder has created a novel interface for accelerating scientific data processing, namely an intelligent digital lab notebook that enables scientists to effortlessly document, archive, and share their research findings in a digital format.

Currently, up to 96% of all scientists still use paper notebooks to record their primary research data - a time-consuming process that also makes it difficult to reuse and communicate research findings with other scientists. In contrast, labfolder's Web 2.0 alternative is intuitive and easy-to-use; it helps eliminate the nuisance of searching through vast data sets stored on paper in various locations. To simplify scientific documentation and archival procedures, this cloud-based online platform is equipped with smart research tools, such as protocol templates, image annotation features, and sketch pad capabilities. In addition, group sharing functions help foster knowledge exchange, enabling scientists to more easily collaborate with fellow colleagues and researchers worldwide.

Free mobile apps for Android and iOS interfaces further support labfolder's vision of providing users unlimited access to their scientific data; Smartphones, tablets, and iPads can be used as digital lab notebooks to instantly record handwritten notes, sketches, and photographic results from experiments on-the-go - be it in the lab, at a conference, or out in the field.

For individual academic scientists and small research groups, labfolder's basic software is free. For larger research teams, the "Extended Team" edition, which offers functions tailored for managing such groups, is available for a monthly fee.

labfolder GmbH was founded by two scientists and a software architect who individually struggled with time-consuming research procedures in their labs. To emphasize labfolder's commitment to increasing the efficiency of lab research in general, the company welcomes customer feedback to further improve its digital lab notebook.

To learn more about labfolder, please click here.

Source & Image: � labfolder GmbH


Information technology is a significant driver of innovation and is essential to Germany's future prosperity in the global marketplace. To ensure that there will be a new generation of qualified leaders capable of driving innovation in the field, the IT industry is focusing on developing young talent.

This September, 40 new IT PhDs will convene in Berlin to kick-off the third year of Software Campus - an executive development program for German IT specialists that combines cutting-edge research with hands-on management practice. Founded in 2011, the program currently sponsors 120 outstanding computer science master's and doctoral students.

Software Campus is supported by 18 industry and research partners and is under the management of EIT ICT Labs Germany. The initiative is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Leading IT companies like Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, and SAP are working alongside top-level research institutes and universities, such as the Max Planck and Fraunhofer institutes, Technische Universit�t Berlin (TU Berlin), and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), to support this initiative.

Together with partners from academia and industry, each participant designs and implements his or her own IT research project, drawing upon grant funding of up to 100,000 euros. Other important aspects of this program include executive skills training, mentoring, practical experience, and an active alumni network. Leadership training arranged by the industry partners, for example, covers key topics such as team building, creative business strategies, and intercultural awareness.

Upon successful completion of the program, participants may begin working at a company in a senior management position, lead research projects at a university or research institute, or found their own business. The first group of program participants will graduate in the next few months and will present their IT research projects and future career plans to the Software Campus partners.

To watch a video about the program, click here. For details on how to apply, click here.

Source & Image: � EIT ICT Labs GmbH


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