North America


The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) works together closely with a large number of partner organizations in both the United States and Canada.

Furthering exchange on current issues in higher education, the HRK meets with representatives of the American Council on Education (ACE). Reflecting its dedication to the transatlantic partnership, the HRK also has a seat on the board of the German-American Fulbright Commission.

As an associated member, the HRK also participates in the annual convention of the GAIN-network. GAIN is the German Academic International Network. The convention takes place each September and is held in either Boston or San Francisco.

In Canada, Universities Canada is the most important partner for the HRK.

German-American exchange on the responsibility of universities and science towards democracy

Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann, Copyright: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich,

19 October 2021 The political responsibility of universities and science towards democratic culture was the focus of a transatlantic online symposium jointly hosted last week by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the German Rectors' Conference and Thomas Mann House. The event is intended to be a prelude to deepen German-American exchange on the supporting role of universities in democratic
systems. More...

DAAD and HRK criticise new visa rules in USA

14 July 2020 German students in the USA are facing an uncertain future due to the new visa rules in the coronavirus crisis. The US immigration agency ICE had announced last week that foreign students who were participating exclusively in online courses at an American university would have to leave the country – or face deportation. The Presidents of the HRK and DAAD have sounded a warning about the consequences. More

Freedom of Expression

On the Culture of Debate at Universities

24 June 2020 An audience of about 200 people followed the virtual event on the culture of debate at universities, which the HRK hosted together with The University of Chicago. Even if the limits of free speech on campus were set differently by the panellists from the USA and Germany, there was agreement that freedom of speech is an indispensable core component of university culture that must be protected. In her lecture "Debate and Democracy: Universities Today", Professor Susanne Baer, judge of the Federal Constitutional Court, also emphasised the overall social responsibility of universities. The recording of the event is available online. More

Shifting political culture threatens academic freedom

Thomas Mann House; © VATMH e.V./ Foto: Mike Kelley
Thomas Mann House
© VATMH e.V./ Foto: Mike Kelley

28 August 2019 In recent years, populism, nationalism and new forms of aggressive escalation have been exerting a growing influence on political culture in the West. Fundamental values of liberal democracy such as freedom of expression and tolerance are coming under attack. The consequences of this radicalisation on science in Germany and the USA was the focus of a two-day event held at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles. More

Event on equal opportunities in access to university and gaining a university degree

7 April 2019 At the invitation of the American Council on Education and the Lumina Foundation, experts from a total of eight countries discussed ways to assist traditionally disadvantaged student groups in transitioning from school to university and gaining a university degree. In the lead-up to the conference, two commissioned studies demonstrated that an increasingly heterogeneous student body is presenting universities across the world with great challenges. According to the authors of the study, the likelihood of successfully completing a university degree all too often depends on factors such as gender, race and background. The Global Attainment & Inclusion Network brings together representatives of industry with university heads and rectors’ conferences from Australia, Germany, Europe (EUA), Canada, Columbia, Mexico, the USA and the United Kingdom. The conference in Ensenada, Mexico, is part of a long-term project and tied in with a conference in Washington, D.C. in spring 2018.

Freedom of speech at universities

5 September 2018 „Democracy is essential to academic freedom. Academic freedom is essential to democracy,” said HRK President Peter-André Alt, outlining the reciprocal relationship between academic freedom and democracy during an introductory speech at the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York. The podium discussion that followed focussed on the current debate surrounding the limits and conditions of freedom of speech at universities, which is particularly prevalent in the USA at the moment. The HRK President signified a clear commitment to freedom of speech as a key element of German universities' ethos. More