PERCEPTION IN POLITICS

by Juliane Neidhardt

     

In May 1992, Technische Hochschule Ilmenau received many visitors. Similar to the panel discussion held on the occasion of the Open Day, the visitors came mainly from the political arena. The difficult financial situation of the university and the state was also repeatedly discussed.

     
Prime Minister Vogel faces the discussion (Source: UAI, Negative 920430_3-25)

Visit of the Minister President Dr. Bernhard Vogel

At the end of April, on April 30, 1992, the Prime Minister of Thuringia, Dr. Bernhard Vogel, visited the Technische Hochschule. The politician gave a short lecture to the members of the university, which he quickly opened to a discussion. He wanted to know how the students and staff were dealing with the current situation. This had not exactly improved as the year progressed. The financial situation was still more than tense. Students in particular were becoming less and less satisfied with the way the state government and university management were dealing with the situation. In the student magazine GURU, one student introduced his article with the following words:

"Thüringen befindet sich in Geldnöten. Das hat bis auf die Diäten der Abgeordneten des Thüringer Landtags auf fast alles eine entsprechende Wirkung, auch auf die Hochschulen." (Source: GURU 4, 1992, p. 2)

The background to this statement was the elimination of six professorships, which had been ordered by the state government and readily confirmed by the university administration. For the students, who had protested for better staffing as late as January, this action was incomprehensible.

Rector Prof. Köhler, meanwhile, expressed concern for the first time that the targeted student numbers for the winter semester might not be reached. However, the prime minister was still convinced of this and said that the rector would probably ask him soon to stop advertising the university because of the imminent rush of students. (Source: ihb 7, 1992, p. 01)

 
         
President of HRK in the Senate (Source: UAI, Negative 920521-24).

Visit of the President of the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz

Prof. Hans-Uwe Erichsen, President of the German Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, also visited Ilmenau on May 21. In a specially arranged senate meeting (written minutes have not been handed down), one of the topics was the development concept of the university. But of course the financial and personnel situation was also discussed.

Prof. Erichsen named as a problem that the financing model of the West German universities was simply transferred to the East German ones, without taking into account that the West German universities are clearly underfinanced. At the annual meeting of the German Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, at which Rector Köhler and Prof. Schipanski were also present, Erichsen called for at least 30,000 scientists and 15,000 other employees to be hired and 300,000 new study places to be created in order to ease the burden on the universities. (Source: ihb 9, 1992, p. 01)

During the visit of Dr. Norbert Lammert, representative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Science, on May 15, he spoke in favor of strengthening education not acquired through universities. He, too, saw a problem in the mass rush to West German universities, but said that there was no significant connection between mass attendance and rising dropout rates. (Source: ihb 9, 1992, p. 02)

     

Visit of the Member of the Bundestag Claudia Nolte

The CDU member of the Bundestag Claudia Nolte, herself a graduate of the university, was very committed to Ilmenau. Many visits came about with her help. For example, she invited the head of Jenoptik GmbH, Lothar Späth, to lay the foundation for future cooperation between Jenoptik and the Technical University. (Source: ihb 7, 1992, p. 04)

Shortly thereafter, Ms. Nolte returned with representatives of the CDU's Women and Youth Working Group to discuss primarily the concerns of students with children. Naturally, they also discussed the university crèche, the further financing of which had not yet been secured. In a subsequent discussion, it was decided that three workers would be financed by the student union and four more by the employment office. This ensured that the nursery would continue to operate for at least another year. (Source: ihb 9, 1992, p. 02)

           

Incidentally, it is interesting to note that Angela Merkel also visited the university in 1992, also accompanied by Ms. Nolte. The then Federal Minister for Women and Youth spoke with students and staff in November about two years of German unity.