University of Konstanz

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University of Konstanz

In October, Christophe Derail and Dirk Schaumlöffel visited the University of Konstanz, Germany, to learn about their success in the German Excellence Initiative.

The University of Konstanz in Germany has many key parameters in common with UPPA: located in the southwest of the country in a university city of about 80,000 inhabitants in a beautiful landscape and close to the border of the neighboring state. About 12,000 students are enrolled at this young university which was founded 50 years ago and offers many different degree programs with exception of medicine.

In 2007, the University of Konstanz was awarded by the German Excellence Initiative for two graduate schools, a cluster of excellence and their institutional strategy “Concepts for the future”. Within this institutional strategy, internationalization plays an important role and contributed to the success of the excellence initiative. Attracted by these achievements, Christophe Derail and Dirk Schaumlöffel visited Konstanz for two days in October to develop a partnership and to explore how the University of Konstanz can be a benchmark for UPPA. A very warm reception and an excellent visiting program were professionally organized by the international office and its director Dr. Nani Clow. These two days were filled by meetings with the rector and vice-rectors, with professors and researchers as well as administrative staff. During these very fruitful meetings many inspiring ideas were exchanged.

The main goal of the University of Konstanz is excellent research and teaching at the highest international level in order to attract researchers and students. In this context, the internationalization strategy is crucial. For students, many courses at bachelor and master level are offered in English. Foreign students are integrated by one-week and four-week orientation programs including language courses and social activities for connecting people. International researchers and their families are individually supported by a welcome center which takes care - in a proactive way - of issues such as travel, visas, housing, bank accounts and insurance etc. More generally, other important measures are a double career development initiative, a child care center and a library open 24 hours per day.

For a dynamic, internationally recognized top-level research a “culture of creativity” is proposed, the liberty to develop creative ideas. This is supported by “seed money” to incite new, innovative research projects and to promote young researchers at the beginning of their careers for developing their own projects. The two days visiting this young, dynamic university in Germany were highly motivating for coming up with many new ideas. Of course, not everything can be and should be translated one-to-one to UPPA. However, in view of their success and international ranking, the University of Konstanz can be a valuable partner and a benchmark for UPPA to learn how to become an internationally recognized top-level research university.

Contact: Dirk Schaumlöffel (dirk.schaumloeffel @ univ-pau.fr)