Frequently Asked Questions

1. GENERAL INFORMATION

  • 1.1 Why has LUH initiated the process for discussing a possible transformation of the university into a foundation only now – even though this has been possible since the amendment to the Higher Education Act in 2002?

    The scientific commission of Lower Saxony (WKN) has evaluated the implementation of the foundation model for higher education institutions in Lower Saxony and has reached the conclusion to recommend it.

    Excerpt from the WKN report issued at the end of 2019:

    "Overall, the foundation model for higher education institutions in Lower Saxony has proved a success. Rights included in this model, such as the right to appoint professors or the authority to plan and implement building projects, as well as additional aspects such as the supervisory role of the foundation council, have resulted in a positive development of higher education institutions that have implemented the foundation model, especially with regard to fulfilling the increasing demands that higher education institutions face. For members of higher education institutions, the implementation of the foundation model led to an increased ability to identify themselves with their institution, thus creating another success factor for a positive development of foundations under public law in higher education." (p. 49)

    "In view of the model's benefits, the WKN encourages higher education institutions in Lower Saxony that are currently funded by the state to evaluate the possibility of implementing the foundation model." (p. 5)

    Based on this evaluation and taking into account the experience of existing foundations under public law in Lower Saxony, as well as the encouragement of the WKN quoted above, the Presidential Board of LUH has decided to discuss a possible transformation of the university structure.

  • 1.2 Is the foundation model for higher education institutions in Lower Saxony based on a private foundation model?

    Upon their request and by decree of the state government, higher education institutions can be transformed into a foundation under public law which has legal capacity, not a private foundation. If the university became a foundation, it would be less dependent on the state; however, this would not constitute a form of privatisation. The term foundation is not legally registered. For this reason, foundation models in higher education implemented in other federal states cannot be compared to the foundation model for state-run institutions in Lower Saxony.

  • 1.3 Which additional duties would LUH perform if the university became a foundation?

    LUH would exercise autonomy in personnel matters and have the right to plan and implement building projects. These privileges would be granted indefinitely. The latter has already been granted by decree of the Ministry of Science and Culture – however, this right may be revoked at any time. In the foundation model, the right to plan and implement building projects as well as autonomy in personnel matters are established by law. Moreover, the right to appoint professors would be granted indefinitely.

  • 1.4 Would the university require additional administrative staff for supporting the foundation council – and how would such personnel be funded?

    The University Council too is currently supported via positions within the staff unit. These might need to be expanded to a certain extent, since the foundation council would require more support than the current University Council.

  • 1.5 In the foundation model, the State of Lower Saxony would give up influence while continuing to provide funding – why would the state still support this transformation?

    The State of Lower Saxony actively approves of the increased independence that the foundation model provides for higher education institutions, since they are not considered subordinate regional administrations, but publicly funded institutions competing on a national and international level. Additional autonomy and greater leeway in higher education is an advantage for all involved parties – both for the state and the institutions. Other federal states have granted more leeway in higher education via different legal models, such as the corporate model implemented in North Rhine-Westphalia. 

2. IMPACT ON MEMBERS OF STAFF

3. IMPACT ON STUDENTS

4. IMPACT ON THE FINANCIAL SITUATION OF LUH

5. ESTABLISHMENT OF A FOUNDATION COUNCIL

6. FURTHER COURSE OF ACTION

  • 6.1 What has happened so far and how will the process be continued?

    A discussion has been held with various status groups and university bodies. A Senate meeting and a hearing, which were open to all members of the university, have been held. There will be a second hearing open to all university members on 14 December at 5 p.m. In addition, the Staff Council will offer two information events for members of staff. 

  • 6.1.1 What timeline has been scheduled for the process?

    When the current discussion process at LUH has been concluded, the Senate shall decide whether university management should be mandated to open negotiations on the establishment of a foundation with the state government. Assuming a mandate is given once negotiations with the state government have been concluded, a decision must be reached whether the foundation model should be put to the vote in Senate. If negotiations take place, this does not mean that LUH automatically becomes a foundation.

  • 6.2 Which points will need to be discussed within the scope of the negotiations with the Ministry of Science and Culture?

    The regulations prepared with the Ministry of Science and Culture must include the following:

    • the purpose, name, representation and the registered office of the foundation,
    • the composition, appropriation and management of its assets, as well as the continued validity of agreements regarding security of employment of permanent positions and funding of pensions for civil servants,
    • the properties required for maintaining university operations owned by the state as well as property rights for properties owned by third parties including their description given in the land register according to section 28 of the German land register code, that become the property of the foundation without charge.

    The foundation's statutes would be implemented on the basis of these regulations. Changes to a foundation's statutes must be approved by the state government.

  • 6.2.1 Can LUH withdraw from the process after negotiations with the Ministry of Science and Culture have been concluded?

    Yes, this is possible (see section 6.1.1).