Ulm University celebrated its 52nd anniversary at the end of the summer term. The celebration included a ceremonial address and the bestowing of honours, including two University medals. University President Professor Michael Weber used the opportunity to draw attention to important events at the University and developments in university politics.
"Last year, 2018, was marked by great scientific success in the areas of research and teaching, the highlights being the approval of a cluster of excellence in the field of battery research and the new record of more than 105 million euros in third-party funding", University President Professor Michael Weber related in his address at the 52nd anniversary celebration. Within the "Post Lithium Storage" (POLiS) Cluster of Excellence, scientists from Ulm University, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoffforschung Baden-Württemberg; ZSW) are working to develop energy storage systems for the future that do not rely on the use of the finite materials of lithium and cobalt. This cluster, whose focus is of great relevance to the current topics of energy revolution and electromobility, is incorporated into Germany's largest battery research platform CELEST (Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe). Federal Minister Anja Karliczek was impressed during her visit with the Ulm battery research team as well, according to Weber. The president commented on the decision against establishing a "research production battery cell" in Ulm, saying, "Our curiosity, courage and vigour, as well as our aspiration to produce the world's most superior batteries and fuel cells here in Ulm, drive out the disappointment and frustration. We are pressing on at full speed with our work and research in this field, which is so important for the future of all of us."
There is more good news stemming from the University's strategic development areas - primarily in the areas of quantum technology and trauma research. Work is currently in progress for setting up the DLR Institute of Quantum Technologies (DLR-QT) in Ulm. The German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) is providing approximately 11 million euros annually in funding. The Institute's research objective is to develop quantum-based precision instruments for aerospace applications - for use in areas such as navigation and wetter observation. The new "Centre of Quantum Bioscience" (Zentrum für Quantum- und Biowissenschaften, ZQB), on the other hand, is building bridges to connect quantum technology and medicine. The unique building was handed over in early July, in the presence of Minister President Winfried Kretschmann. At the ZQB, an interdisciplinary team is working on developing high-performance sensors and optimised imagining methods - especially for use in the fields of biomedical research and diagnostics.
What's more, a new research facility for Multidimensional Trauma Science (Multidimensionalen Traumawissenschaften, MTW), costing more than 73 million euros, was approved in May. Researchers in this facility will be investigating psychological and physical traumas, as well as their interaction, all the way down to the cellular and molecular level. Funding for the research facility comes from the federal and state governments as well as the Medical Faculty.
In addition to research, the University's main task is to educate. Here Ulm University is introducing a so-called system accreditation as an internal method of quality assurance. This process has also led to the creation of a "teaching mission statement", from which future measures will be derived. Furthermore, a new "gender equality mission statement" is meant to aid in offering women and men equal development and career opportunities.
Enduring high-quality research and teaching, however, can only be guaranteed under competitive conditions. These include superb staff, modern infrastructure and possibilities for change, for instance in the area of digitalisation. "But such things cannot occur without costs", stressed University President Weber with respect to the current discussions on the state university financing agreement. "On the contrary, if one compares the state support per university student in the years 1998 and 2017, there has been a decrease from 10,610 down to 7,890 euros, adjusted for inflation." The universities are therefore demanding that the state fill this gaping hole, which has been growing since 1998, by increasing basic funding - including an annual cost-increase compensation of three per cent. "The universities are fighting for this because we are firmly convinced that the key to a positive future for our country lies in the best possible education for our young people and in outstanding research for the wellbeing of our society", Professor Weber reiterated.
A further important aspect in the focus of the Ulm University 52nd anniversary celebration was "intelligent internationalisation". The keynote speaker and honorary guest was the president of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD), Professor Margret Wintermantel.
Ulm University is linked with the DAAD via several cooperative efforts - the best example being the transnational education project "German University in Cairo" (GUC). About two weeks ago, Ulm University also hosted the DAAD scholarship recipient convention with around 370 participants from 79 different countries. "The global challenges that our society is facing today can only be solved through international cooperation. Transnational exchange programmes and studies abroad are the best prerequisites for success. Such programmes ensure international mobility and networking, thus making a broad understanding of global interrelationships possible in the first place", stated DAAD President Professor Margret Wintermantel.