Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council

18. May 2017

University leaders from around the world will discuss differentiation in higher education and the future of universities in Hamburg

Around 50 presidents of leading universities from around the whole world will assemble for the second Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council from 7 to 9 June 2017. At the invitation of the German Rectors’ Conference, the Körber Foundation and the Universität Hamburg, they will discuss differentiation in university systems and the future of higher education.
University leaders from all continents and from 27 different countries will come to Hamburg: presidents from Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Columbia, China, India and Japan, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, the USA and Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy and Russia, among others, will express their opinions on a meaningful differentiation of the higher education landscape. The Council will also devote itself to current pressing issues: in view of increasing restrictions in many countries, the experts will debate academic freedom and university autonomy. Other topics on the agenda will include the role and responsibility of universities in the various current global crises.

Study: the trend towards academisation and the booming private sector
Commissioned by the Körber Foundation, the study by Boston College: “Responding to Massification: Differentiation in Postsecondary Education Worldwide” forms the basis of the Council. It analyses trends in the university and vocational education systems in 13 countries. The study shows that the trend towards academisation is spreading throughout the whole world: More than 200 million people are enrolled at universities worldwide, more than ever before. This is said to be leading to an expansion of existing establishments and to a large increase in new higher education institutions, especially in the private, profit-oriented sector, but with a lack of control. Strategic differentiation in the higher education landscape – and thus a clearly defined division of responsibilities – is required to ensure that the various institutions in the post-secondary sector can accurately fulfil both the needs of students and those of society and the economy. Boston College’s Philip G. Altbach, who directed the study, explains that it is necessary to transform the current “anarchic phase” into a coherent, integrated system of good quality post-secondary educational institutions.

This is the Council’s objective: the German Rectors’ Conference, the Körber Foundation and the Universität Hamburg want to use the meeting to create a platform for an exchange of views on the subject of global university development. In a final resolution, the presidents want to record how differentiation of the global higher education landscape could take place in a scientifically adequate, value-oriented way, and what the appropriate next steps and strategic approaches would be.

Further information
The programme of the Hamburg Transnational University Leaders Council, the list of participants, and further information is available at

Materials to download
•    Study “Responding to Massification: Differentiation in Postsecondary Education Worldwide” by Boston College, commissioned by the Körber Foundation (English, pdf file)
•    Executive Summary of the Study (German translation, pdf file)

Opportunities for interviews (please request via the Press Contact)
with the initiators of the Council

•    Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Horst Hippler, President of the German Rectors’ Conference
•    Dr. Lothar Dittmer, Executive Board Chairman of the Körber Foundation 
•    Prof. Dr. Dieter Lenzen, President of Universität Hamburg

with the director of the study “Responding to Massification”
•    Prof. Dr. Philip G. Altbach, Boston College Center for International Higher Education
with Council participants (see the list of participants)

Note for the media
We invite you to visit the Körber Foundation (Kehrwieder 12, 20457 Hamburg) at the following points in the Council’s three-day programme:

•    Wednesday 7 June, 16:30 to 17:00 hrs.:
Group photo of all the participating presidents

•    Friday 9 June, 10:30 to 12:00 hrs.:
The Council’s concluding discussion

•    Friday 9 June, 13:00 to 14:00 hrs.:
Press briefing with the initiators

Please register with Andrea Bayerlein ( Merel Neuheuser (

Press Contact
Andrea Bayerlein
Press Officer
Körber Foundation
Tel.: +49 40 80 81 92-177