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Interview with Prof. Dr. Hafer

11.06.2012

An interview with the new Vice-Chancellor of the bbw University of Applied Sciences.

You were most recently at Deutsche Bahn, German Railways, and have been here since 1 March this year. What was your first impression?
Great location, great university team, lots of students, nice roof terrace with a view over Berlin. I very much look forward to working here.

Your arrival means the bbw University of Applied Sciences has a full-time rector for the first time...

Yes, the current state of the university’s development requires this. And of course I'm very pleased with the attractive offer.

Do you already have an idea of what you want to tackle first?

Together with my colleagues I am creating a strategic university development plan. After five years of operations and obtaining institutional accreditation by the German Council of Science and Humanities with no difficulties and successfully running accredited courses, the University of Applied Sciences has got off to a great start. The start-up phase is complete. Now it is time to look more closely at the processes and to develop the quality still further.

That was the logistics and process manager speaking.

Of course. To sum up, I would put the upcoming development phase under the heading "Secure sustainability and develop strengths", which I have called the "Perform grow strategy".

And that means?

In order to ensure the attractiveness of the study programmes in the long term, we will continue to develop the quality of teaching and research - which is important in every development phase of a university of applied sciences, but especially so if one wants to grow still further. And we will increase the level of awareness of the university still further, especially how it is perceived internationally.

That sounds like you already have a vision of where you want to see the university in five years?

I want us in Berlin and Brandenburg to be No. 1 among the private universities of applied sciences in terms of both quality and quantity. To do this, we will align ourselves with the strengths of the bbw Group and our partners in business. There are a number of companies in the economy with which the bbw University of Applied Sciences is already networked, mainly through the Federation of Commercial Enterprises in Berlin and Brandenburg (UVB). I still see a potential for development here.

For a long time you were in a management position at German Railways, covering Eastern Europe, and you speak Russian. Do you see prospects for the bbw University of Applied Sciences abroad?

Absolutely. The internationalisation of the courses on offer will be a major issue for us in the coming years. During my inaugural visit I was very impressed when I learned there are now students from 47 nations here. However, few are from Eastern Europe. But when I ask the foreign students why they came here, they say: Because of the cool city and because they want to study at a business-oriented college.

Do you think there is enough interest there?

I know that the interest in a business-oriented course of study in Berlin is very substantial. With my experience in Eastern Europe, I would like to open up the bbw University of Applied Sciences to foreign students still further, in two specific directions. On the one hand, I would like the course content to be taught in English. On the other, I would like to create a welcoming culture. The need to open up the German educational and labour market to foreigners is currently under discussion at various political levels, but I can hardly detect any signs of the welcome culture that is required for this.

What does that mean in practical terms?

For example, I have already started to give lectures in English in my department "Logistics and Supply Chain Management". In the next few months, I would like to start with the development of study concepts in foreign languages. Abroad, we will be presenting our study offer at congresses and conferences more powerfully. And this also includes the support of foreign students who wish to study here with their visa applications and German courses.

Do the so-called back office services at bbw University of Applied Sciences also fit into these projects?

I think so. So far I have found that the university team, the teachers and the administrators are so motivated and committed that I have no doubt that we can adapt to an even higher degree of internationality.

You were previously at a small state institution, the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus - is there something you would like to bring over from there?

Many things, especially in the academic field, the technical equipment, etc. These were outstanding in this traditional and yet very modern university. Clearly I will be bringing many ideas from there. But of course that is just the same for the professors, who come from all over the place. We will be bringing our ideas together over the coming months.

Which issue did you notice immediately?

I am thinking of developing our university into a campus with even more student life and a sense of well-being. Especially after the lectures and seminars. I am thinking, for example, of the study areas where fathers, mothers or those students stressed out by their shared accommodation can find a retreat for study. But this also includes typical student leisure activities that we can support structurally. This is a wide field and certainly something we will have to plan together with our students.

Anything else?

"Be Berlin - be bbw!"

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