Prof. Dr. Horst Hanusch: The university as a business location

Here are some facts to give you a first idea of the importance and size of this tertiary education institution. Over 14,000 students are currently enrolled at the University of Augsburg, more than half of whom are women. More than ten per cent of students come from abroad, which attests to the international character of the campus. Students are offered the op­­portunity to establish and expand world­­wide contacts by participating in 180 cooperative projects with universities in other countries. Since it was found­­ed 40 years ago, seven faculties have been created at the University of Augs­burg: The Faculty of Business Adminis­tration and Economics and the Faculty of The­ology, which were established at the same time as the university itself, were followed by the Faculty of Law, the Fac­­ulty of Philosophy and Social Sci­­ences, the Faculty of Philology and His­­tory, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sci­­ences, and, just a few years ago, the Faculty of Applied Computer Science, offering a total of 55 courses altogether. Four courses can be combined with work. The number of university dropouts has been reduced significantly in recent years – in the 2007/08 academic year, a total number of 2,538 students completed their courses successfully, with a more or less balanced proportion of male and female graduates.

Since the summer semester of 2007, the majority of students have had to contrib­­ute to financing their studies by paying a tuition fee of 500 euros per semester. This money was used to substantially im­­prove the courses offered, including the quality of teaching. 176 professors are currently employed at the seven faculties and eleven cross-faculty institutes, the proportion of women being 16.3 per cent. On the whole, almost one thousand sci­­entists are involved in teaching and re­­search.

In addition, the university employs 611 non-academic staff members. These fig­­ures may serve to illustrate the importance of the University of Augsburg, not only as an educational institution but also as a significant part of the local economy.

Networking between industry and aca­demia manifests itself even more clearly and is particularly strong in the centres of competence, which are often part of the Elite Network of Bavaria.

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One example is the Core Competence Centre Finance and Information Man­age­­ment, which, under the scientific direction of Prof. Dr. Hans Ulrich Buhl and Prof. Dr. Marco C. Meier, has made a name for itself as an internationally renowned re­­search centre at the interface of fi­­nance and information management.

For several years it has initiated innova­­tive projects to support numerous global players in the financial services and IT industries as well as industrial compa­­nies in the areas of corporate finance and cus­­tomer management. Among other fac­­tors, its success is based on the syn­­er­get­­ic in­­teraction between research, teach­­ing and hands-on projects. Publicly and pri­vate­­ly funded research projects com­­plement each other in a unique way. On the one hand, companies benefit directly from the latest research findings and tech­­nol­­o­gies, on the other, those projects en­­hance the empirical relevance of research and the attractiveness of programmes offered to students.
As a second example, let us look at the activities of the Department of Physics. Early in September 2009, the Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr Zeil, and the former Federal Minister of Eco­­nomics, Mr zu Guttenberg, laid the foun­­dation stone for a centre for lightweight production technology on the premises of the University. This undertaking will mark the beginning of cooperative work between the German Aerospace Cent­­er (DLR), Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the University of Augsburg in this field, which is of vital importance to modern industry. Together with DLR, the Depart­­ment of Physics will also set up a chair for fibre-reinforced composite materials technology. The materials investigated and developed here may be important for the next generations of Airbus or Boeing aircraft.

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A third and final example is the Centre for Further Education and Transfer of Knowl­­edge (ZWW), where the University deals with management-related activities. Sci­­entific further education in gen­­eral, and in particular the transfer of knowl­­edge and technology are the third major core area of competence the University can offer, besides research and teaching. The purpose of the ZWW is to prepare and convey state-of-the-art specialist, cross-disciplinary and methodical knowledge obtained through academic research in such a way that professionals with de­­ci­­sion-making responsibilities can use it to successfully address their everyday work problems. On the other hand, the dialogue with practice involved in knowl­­edge and technology transfer substantially contributes to the development of innovative and competitive products and processes, resulting in the effect that this transfer, too, contributes a lot to safeguarding the well-being of Germany as a business location.
According to a statement by Financial Times Germany on 4 April 2007, the Uni­­versity of Augsburg is one of the few German universities that successfully provide attractive offers in this field of professional further education.

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A look at the working conditions at the University of Augsburg serves to confirm its attractiveness as a place to work and do business. The University of Augsburg has made a point of becoming the most family-friendly university in Germany. A day-care centre for children and a toddler group on the campus as well as the Gen­­der Zentrum Augsburg (GZA; Augsburg gender centre) provide excellent prere­quisites to achieve this, as do numerous part-time and teleworking opportunities. Anyone wishing to study or work at the University of Augsburg or planning to locate to the science park which is cur­­rently being built, can expect to not only be offered an attractive workplace but to live in an environment where their whole family will feel comfortable.

In conclusion, I recommend you take ad­­vantage of Augsburg as a business lo­­ca­­tion, whose significance and appeal are not least represented by the University of Augsburg.

Hanusch_neuThe author, born in 1942, obtained a doc­­torate and a professorship at Erlangen-Nuremberg university. In 1974 he was appointed to a chair of economics at the University of Augsburg. He is the managing director of the Institute for Public Health and Health Economics at Augsburg university. Since 2007, he has held the office of vice president of the University of Augsburg.