[졸업식 축사] 아헨공과대학교 총장 부르크하르트 라우후트
[졸업식 축사] 아헨공과대학교 총장 부르크하르트 라우후트
  • Prof. Burkhard Rauhut - President, RWTH Aachen
  • 승인 2002.02.20 00:00
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▲ 아헨공과대학교 총장 부르크하르트 라우후트(Prof. Burkhard Rauhut)
Mr. President, dear Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

graduation is a very important step in every student’s life on her or his career ladder. I fell deeply honoured and pleased to be invited by your University to take part in the celebration today which indeed defines the very end of this step.

It is a great pleasure for me to congratulate you on your success and to wish you a rapid ascent on the career ladder in whatever profession you have chosen or will choose for your future. On any of the steps of your career ladder you will need the support of someone just as you have received support and encouragement during the last years from your family, your friends and your teachers and I think it is fair to remember this with gratitude.

Quite clearly your individual steps into the future will differ from each other. Some of you will start a professional career, some will continue their studies at POSTECH and others will change to another University, maybe outside of Korea.

At some of the foreign Universities it will be very easy for you to obtain the admission because there are co-operation agreements between POSTECH and these Universities concerning for example student and staff exchange. For some other Universities, the admission procedure may be more difficult.

I’ll take the opportunity today to talk about co-operation between Universities but also about competition between them and I will discuss shortly the reasons as well as the challenges of this situation.

Let me first analyse the reasons.

Universities have always been international in the sense that the scholars, scientists and students were welcomed from abroad but they were international in a somehow local understanding due to the transportation and communication restrictions.

These physical restrictions not only hampered the mobility of the University people they also kept the economy from being really global. However the situation changed dramatically in the last hundred years.

The capacity as well as the speed of world-wide transportation increased in an incredible manner and the even more unthinkable development of information and communication technology made it possible for companies to exploit and handle this technology to become real global players on a very large scale. The logistics for the globally operating companies for example in the chemical or automotive industry or for the international airlines would be impossible without the contemporary computer power and the networks of computers world-wide.

Moreover, in most cases it is now a strategic option for companies to have a production plant in one country and the headquarter in another because decisions can be taken over long distances without any delay. In view of this situation companies can look for the best conditions world-wide concerning the production facilities on the one hand and research and development establishments on the other.

For example, Ford Motor Company established the only Ford Research Centre outside the United States at the city of Aachen in Germany because of the competence of Aachen University in the field of automotive systems engineering. Also Mitsubishi from Japan, Ericcson from Sweden and Phillips from the Netherlands have research centres at Aachen quite close to the University irrespective of the location of their production facilities.

The concomitant of economic globalisation is international competition not only for the globally operating companies but also for all others especially since the information about products and services are instantly available world-wide by the Internet. As a follow-up the ever faster growing e-commerce gives an additional impetus to this international competition.

In the same way political changes like the end of the Soviet Union or the establishment of the European Union with one common currency drive the economy into internationalisation.

As a consequence there is an increasing demand for highly educated employees who are internationally oriented, speak different languages and are flexible concerning the part of the world they are expected to work in.

Moreover, international transparency in qualification profiles helps the companies to recruit the proper staff for their business.

This development of the last decades has far-reaching consequences for the higher education area and has a major effect on the overall policy of the Universities.
They find themselves in a new relation to one another, leading to competition, co-operation and in some sense to convergence on a global scale.

Competition refers mainly to the fact that every single University tries to become a world-class institution with respect to research and development. Top results in ranking procedures are therefore highly appreciated as an outcome of these efforts like the first rank of POSTECH in the 1998 list of Asian Universities of Technology because this recognition makes it more likely for the University to attract top researchers from all over the world.

In addition, the attractiveness for excellent students is a major concern of the Universities. In some countries the financial aspect also plays a role. Fee-paying students from abroad contribute to the prosperity of the country. But though for example in Germany we do not demand tuition fees in our higher education system we nevertheless take part in the international competition for the best students because the ideas of these bright young people are driving elements for the progress of science and technology. Having the best individuals is a prerequisite to get the best results.

Apart from a few examples, most Universities are under monetary pressure and have to apply for grants from various institutions. This causes a competition for money.

In most countries the national science foundations or the local industries support the universities by offering grants. But more and more the Universities have to apply for international budgets as for example in the European Union where every year several billion Euros – our new currency – are granted to research institutions and Universities for special research projects in a competitive way. In a similar manner international companies are looking for the best reward for their money world-wide in terms of scientific and engineering results produced by the Universities.

But globalisation not only gives rise to competition but also to co-operation in various aspects.

Since research is becoming more and more interdisciplinary it may happen that results, methods or processes needed for a special research project are not available at the home University or not in an appropriate quality. By co-operating with other Universities one gets access to the missing competence.

In order to exploit competences scattered among the European Universities, the European Union offers grants for special projects where only consortia of Universities from different European countries are allowed to apply for. In this case the Universities not only desire but are actually forced to co-operate.

Looking at the relations between POSTECH and Aachen University of Technology however, there has never been the need for pressure to co-operate: It was the spirit and the history of our two Universities, established mainly to support the iron, steel and mining industry, which led us to several co-operation agreements in the past.

The first of these agreements was signed in 1988, followed by further agreements in 1994, 1997 and 1998. The main purpose of these agreements has been the scientific exchange in terms of joint seminars, research projects, exchange of staff members and for special departments also the exchange of students.

Exchange programmes for staff members and students on a bilateral basis or within networks of Universities also improve the attractiveness of the partner Universities for outstanding students and are therefore advantageous in the international competition.

Moreover, the Universities themselves get a benefit out of these programmes. The staff members perceive what their colleagues beyond the borders are doing in terms of education. They have to make decisions to which partner schools to send their students and from where to accept students. For these decisions they have to evaluate the curricula, the educational methods and the way in which the partner institutions are organised within their legal and cultural background.

Comparing the different systems is a prerequisite for an international transparency of qualification profiles which will in particular help the students to select in the best way the study programme that meets their personal needs in terms of interest, talent and envisaged professional career.

Besides the qualification profile the quality of research and education has to be the main concern of a university. Any proper effort has to be undertaken to ensure and improve this quality.

Comparing high-ranked universities is one of the best ways to do so for example by benchmarking and joint search for best practice examples in research as well as in education. I refer to research because I am absolutely convinced that first class research is an indispensable prerequisite for up-to-date first class higher education at least in engineering and science. In order to establish Centres of Excellence in certain research fields for doing outstanding research it is necessary to encourage and support the best students and teachers leading to the education of an elite. The number of highly gifted people is limited and cannot be multiplied even by the best possible training. But these people determine to some extent the speed and the quality of the scientific and consequently the economic development in the future.

With respect to this situation Aachen University for example is a member of a benchmarking club together with seven other German Universities of Technology.

On the international level RWTH Aachen among other things is a member of the so-called IDEA-League, a union of leading universities from four different European countries, namely Imperial college London in the UK, University of Technology Delft in the Netherlands, ETH Zürich in Switzerland and RWTH Aachen in Germany. This IDEA-Lague was founded 1999 as a strategic alliance in academic as well as political affairs.

The aim is two-fold: Besides academic co-operation in terms of comparing curricula, benchmarking in quality assurance and promoting staff and student mobility within the four universities the alliance gains political influence on their respective national education systems by referring to the success of the other universities within their national legal frameworks.

I believe that in many cases this influence is necessary in order to have a say in the line of thought of the politicians who decide about the national higher education system.

The quality of this system decides on the success of the graduates of today and of tomorrow in the international competition. I wish those of you graduating today good luck in this competition by co-operating with people of the same kind of interest. I also wish you contentment in all aspects of your lives especially in your private planning as well as in the success in your professional career.

You build our world of tomorrow – good luck!


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