In my capacity as the President of the University of Hamburg I have the great pleasure of inviting you to join the EUA spring conference titled "Funding strong Universities for Europe" which will be hosted by the University of Hamburg.

In Glasgow a debate has started at the highest European political level on the crucial topic of university funding as a prerequisite for securing the future of European Universities. I would particulary like to welcome the commitment of the EUA to involve its members and our partners in a continuing exchange which could take up this difficult but extremely important discussion during the conferences in Uppsala and Hamburg, conveying the message that a strong Europe needs strong and creative universities as key players in shaping the European knowledge society.

Without adequate levels of funding European universities cannot be expected to address the challenges of global competition and inter-institutional cooperation based on a shared commitment to quality. The financial support of universities by state funding has declined in many countries. This erodes the capacity of the universities to contribute to the welfare of society both in an economic sense as well as in the sense of  promoting the intellectual, cultural and social values which underlie all our efforts. It is this contribution which is made by the universities on all these levels that we refer to when speaking of the notion of what has been called the European dimension of our understanding of knowledge and society. At the same time the relationship between the European universities and their governments is being redefined. This means that the European universities need to consider this changing situation seriously. The universities as autonomous institutions could certainly present innovative ways of developing distinctive profiles and structures for their various institutions. Likewise models of cooperation between the universities and various other partners could also be further developed. Our goal should be to ensure an appropriate and sustainable support of our commitment to higher education and science in order to be able to promote our commonly shared interests and aims.We would like to attain this goal by working together with both public and also private funding. This can be done on a regional, national and an international level.

Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany. The city of Hamburg is also one of the 16 federal states in Germany. At the same time Hamburg is THE metropolis of patronage and privately financed foundations in Germany. This culture has a lively tradition even dating back to the beginning of the 13th century. The 936 active organisations have a foundation capital which is said to be truly impressive. 36 new foundations were created during the past year alone. This environment of generosity makes Hamburg seem a perfect place to inspire an encouraging discussion, producing insight in diverse models of innovative funding of Higher Education Institutions and investigating their impact on vision and good practice of institutional governance and partnership policy both in a public and a private realm of international cooperation.  

  Jürgen Lüthje
President of the University of
Hamburg since 1991