HTULC logo

The first Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council

Shared Values as a Guide for the Global Development of Universities

Group photo of the Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council 2015
Foto:Körber Stiftung/Claudia Höhne

12 June 2015 There must be a shared basic understanding of core issues concerning universities that transcends countries and continents. Only on this basis can universities continue to play their key role in progressing research, society and the economy.

This was the conclusion of the 50 university leaders from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa who met from 10 to 12 June at the KörberForum for the first Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council at the invitation of the German Rectors' Conference, the Körber Foundation and Universität Hamburg.

In view of the increasing impact of globalisation on the post-secondary sector, they discussed shared values that they are convinced should have a central role in developing universities around the world going forward. The delegates at the conference approved the "Hamburg Protocol" as a summary of their exchange. In this Protocol, they formulated key aspects that they believe need to have a central role in developing universities around the world going forward, regardless of the vast amount of diversity between institutions. These aspects include:

  • Tackling the grand challenges facing society;
  • Promoting equal opportunities to participate in higher education regardless of individual social backgrounds or financial means;
  • Striking a balance between general personal development and application-oriented transfer of knowledge and skills in university education; Guaranteeing academic freedom and science-driven, transparent and
  • responsible governance within the university and in the relationship between the university and the state;
  • Fostering collaboration between universities around the world on an equal footing to encourage global participation in knowledge and research.

“This meeting has given us the opportunity to take stock together of the global post-secondary sector. The German Rectors' Conference will advocate the agreed values at national and international level. Specific aims now need to be defined and broken down into precise implementation stages in cross-border working groups,” said Prof. Dr. Horst Hippler, President of the German Rectors' Conference.

“Our agreements provide the basis that will allow us to purposefully shape the global development of universities,” said Prof. Dr. Dieter Lenzen, President of Universität Hamburg, who initiated the meeting. “We now need additional support from policy-makers. We are relying on constructive dialogue with political decision-makers at a national and a global level.”

“This first Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council is the start of a dialogue between countries which transcends differing university traditions,” said Dr. Lothar Dittmer, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Körber Foundation. “The past two days have shown that our motto of talking with one another rather than about one another also applies to the post-secondary sector. We have made a start with this Council. Now everybody involved needs to implement specific measures to actively shape global development.”

You can download the The Hamburg Protocol in the right hand column. Further information, including the Council programme and a group photo of the delegates, can be found at