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Western universities’ leadership packed with politicians

Magyar Nemzet
2023.01.20. 21:21
Western universities’ leadership packed with politicians

Brussels’ double standard for Hungary’s universities operated by foundations is blatantly clear. While the European Commission demands the Hungarian government implement new systems to make universities independent – punishing Hungarian youth by depriving them of Erasmus program participation – it is commonplace in the EU for politicians, ministers, and even EP representatives to be members of university supervisory boards and boards of trustees.

Many German and Austrian politicians take on side jobs in higher education alongside their political responsibilities. In 2013, the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that, 


While Saarland’s Minister of Economy, Heiko Mass was simultaneously an alternate member of the supervisory board of the Saarland University Clinics. Other members included the finance minister Stephan Toscani as well as Andreas Storm, minister for society, health, women and family. 


Among the current members of the university clinic’s board of trustees are several state politicians including Wolfgang Förster, finance and education state secretary, and Magnus Jung, work, society, women and health minister. 

However, a similar phenomenon can be observed throughout many of Germany’s university boards. The supervisory board of the Dresden University Clinic includes Sebastian Gemkow, minster of science, culture and tourism for Saxony, Dagmar Neukirch, state secretary at the ministry of social and community cohesion, as well as Hartmut Vorjohann, finance minister of Saxony. CDU Member of the European Parliament Andreas Schwab is a part of the Freiburg University’s advisory board. 

The board of trustees of the Munich-based Ludwig Maximilian University has among its ranks: Robert Brannekämper, chairman of the committee responsible for science and the arts of the Bavarian state parliament, Wolfgang Heubisch, vice president of the Bavarian parliament, Verena Osygan, vice-chairwoman of the Bavarian parliament’s green party, Michael Piazolo, Bavarian State Minister for Culture and Education, Munich's mayor Dieter Reiter, and Markus Rinderspracher, another vice president of the Bavarian state parliament. 

State Minister for Science and Art Markus Blume, holds a position of leadership on the supervisory board of the Ludwig Maximillian University Clinics. Representing the Bavarian council of ministers, Burkhard von Urff, Tobias Haumer, and Vitus Gamperl are also on the board. 

Among the members of the Technical University of Munich you can find CSU Member of the European Parliament Angelika Niebler along with Wolfgang Heubisch vice president of the Bavarian parliament, Sabine Jarothe, leader of the state ministry of the economy, regional development, and energy, and Dieter Reiter, mayor of Munich.  

The University of Regensburg’s board of trustees includes the mayor of Regensburg Gertrud Maltz-Schwarzfischer, as well as Landtag representatives Jürgen Mistol, Stephan Oetzinger, and Margit Wild. 

The board of trustees for Siegen University not only includes the city’s mayor, Steffen Mues, but also Anke Fuchs-Dreisbach Landtag representative, and Bundestag representatives Volkmar Klein, Laura Kraft and Luiza Licina-Bode. 

The Koblenz-Landau UNI board of trustees also includes a few mayors: Thomas Hirsch of Landau and David Langer of Koblenz. Aside from them, Landtag representatives Anna Köbberling, Katrin Rehak-Nitsche, and Adolf Weiland are also on the board. 

Two members of the Berlin Senate are part of the Technical University of Berlin’s board of trustees: Ulrike Gote and Armaghan Naghipour. 

The board of trustees of the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg includes Johann Herrmann Minister of the Interior of the state of Bavaria, Mayor of Erlangen Florian Janik, Mayor of Fürth Thomas Jung, Mayor of Nürnberg Marcus König, and Bundestag representative Stefan Müller. 

The University of Würzburg board members’ have among their ranks: Winfried Bausback, Kerstin Celina, Volkmar Halbleib, and Gerald Pittner members of the Landtag, as well as Dorothea Bär Bundestag representative and Sandro Kirchner, Member of the Bundesrat of Germany. 

Landtag representatives Johannes Hintersberger, Beate Merk, Alfred Sauter, and Simone Strohmayr are all members of the University of Augsburg board of trustees. Aside from, there is also Volker Ullrich Bundestag representative, Claudia Roth Bundestag representative and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media of Germany, and Klaus Holetschek Bavarian health minister. 

The board of the University of Trier has three members of the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament: Lars Rieger, Sven Teuber, and Marco Weber. 

The Bayreuth University board includes CSU MEP Monika Hohlmeier and Heidrun Piwernetz, president of the government of Upper Franconia. 

The Technical University of Kaiserslautern has on its board of trustees two Landtag representatives Marlier Kohnle-Gros and Andreas Rahm as well as Kaiserslautern mayor Klaus Weichel. 

Among the Augsburg College board are several German politicians on the state, federal, and European level: 17 Landtag members, 6 Bundestag representatives, and one MEP, Markus Ferber. 

According to the 2016 registration of the state-recognized Fachhochschule des Mittelstands private university, they have on their board not only the then Bundestag representative Lena Strothman, but also the ex-MEP Elmar Brok who was embroiled in a corruption scandal.  

It is worth mentioning that,  


In Austria, some of the university boards are appointed by the federal government on the recommendation of the minister responsible for education, science and research. Oftentimes, the appointed individuals include people in federal or provincial government positions. 


After the 2022 appointments, the government nominated Angelika Schätz, head of the Department I of the Finance Ministry, and Matthias Vogl, head of Department III of the Interior Ministry, to the University of Innsbruck senate. The federal government appointed Sigrid Berka, Director General for Administrative Affairs. Martina Höllbacher, head of the department for science and research in the government of Lower Austria, was appointed to the senate of the University for Continuing Education Krems. 

The practice criticized in Hungary can also be found in the Baltics as well. 

According to her biography, Estonian Socialist MEP Marina Kaljurand – in addition to her work as an MEP since 2019 – is also a member of the board of trustees of Tallinn University. She has been a member since 2010, serving as Estonian foreign minister from 2015 to 2016, and as state secretary between 2014 and 2015. 

On the verbal level there have been no exceptions – though EU Education Commissioner Mariya Gabriel did not deny that only Hungary is going to be punished via the Erasmus program. In answer to the question of how other EU Member States with government officials in university board of trustees are not punished, Mariya Gabriel replied that in her opinion, there are no exceptions.   

Politicians in positions of leadership at institutes of higher education 

University of Saarland Clinics Heiko Maas, Stephan Toscani, Andreas Storm, Wolfgang Förster, Dr. Magnus Jung 


Dresden University Clinics 

Sebastian Gemkow, Dagmar Neukirch, Hartmut Vorjohann 
University of Freiburg Andreas Schwab 


Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich 

Robert Brannekämper, Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch, Verena Osgyan, Michael Piazolo, Dieter Reiter, Markus Rinderspracher 
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Clinics Markus Blume, Dr. Burkhard von Urff, Dr. Tobias Haumer, Dr. Vitus Gamperl 
Technical University of Munich Angelika Niebler, Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch, Dr. Sabine Jarothe, Dieter Reiter 
University of Regensburg Gertrud Maltz-Schwarzfischer, Jürgen Mistol, Dr. Stephan Oetzinger, Margit Wild 
University of Siegen Steffen Mues, Anke Furchs-Dreisbach, Volkmar Klein, Laura Kraft, Luiza Licina-Bode 
University of Koblenz and Landau  Thomas Hirsch, David Langner, Dr. Anna Köbberling, Dr. Katrin Rehak-Nitsche, Dr. Adolf Weiland 
Technical University of Berlin Ulrike Gote, Armaghan Naghipour  
University of Erlangen–Nuremberg Joachim Herrmann, Dr. Florian Janik, Dr. Thomas Jung, Marcus König, Stefan Müller 
University of Würzburg Dr. Winfried Bausback, Kerstin Celina, Volkmar Halbleib, Gerald Pittner, Dorothea Bär, Snadro Kirchner 
University of Augsburg Johannes Hintersberger, Dr. Beate Merk, Alfred Sauter, Dr. Simone Strohmayr, Dr. Volker Ullrich, Claudia Roth, Klaus Holetschek 
University of Trier Lars Rieger, Sven Teuber, Marco Weber 
University of Bayreuth Monika Hohlmeier, Heidrun Piwernetz 


University of Kaiserslautern 

Marlier Kohnle-Gros, Andreas Rahm, Klaus Weichel 


Augsburg College 

Markus Ferber (EP-képviselő), rajta kívül 17 tartományi képviselő és 6 Bundestag-képviselő 
Fachhochschule des Mittelstands (federally-recognized private university) Lena Strothman, Elmar Brok 
University of Innsbruck Angelika Schätz, Dr. Matthias Vogl 
University of Klagenfurt Sigrid Berka 
University for Continuing Education Krems Martina Höllbacher 
University of Tallinn 

Marina Kaljurand 


 Photo: illustration (Fotó: Délmagyarország/Frank Yvette)

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