You are here:
Education Minister Kölliker, what impressed you most in the past academic year?
I was particularly impressed that with joined forces, we succeeded in getting the Joint Medical Master underway. We managed to get the go-ahead from the Confederation, the two governments and universities and the Zurich and St.Gallen hospitals that are involved within just a year. The great interest displayed in the Master's programme is that much more gratifying: 86 prospective students applied for the "St.Gallen track" with 40 places in the first year.
President Bieger, and what pleased you most?
The fact that in addition to the strategic projects like campus extension, digitalisation and the Joint Medical Master, we have been able to continue our development as a business university thanks to the great dedication of all those involved. Thus we have developed new teaching formats in the Teaching Innovation Lab. Reforms such as the one of the Master's programme in Business Innovation demonstrate that our faculty members continue to develop their programmes with a great deal of commitment. Or in research: we are setting up our third global center, in International Economic Analysis. Finally, our students' creative drive always pleases me. The Start Summit Conference is an example of this; it brought more than 2,300 founders from all over the world to St.Gallen.
Mr Kölliker: In autumn 2017, the "St.Gallen track" of the Joint Medical Master will start at the University of Zurich. In 2020, the programme will continue in St.Gallen. Why is this programme so important for Eastern Switzerland?
The proportion of doctors with foreign degrees is more than 42 per cent in Eastern Switzerland. The recruitment of doctors for Eastern Switzerland is getting increasingly more difficult. Also, we sense that the population would like to see more Swiss doctors again. The goal would therefore be that in future, doctors who have trained here will remain in practice in Eastern Switzerland. We're also convinced that the degree programme will create added value for the Cantonal Hospital and the University of St.Gallen and result in new scientific and economic opportunities in cooperation with EMPA or St.Gallen's medical profession.
Professor Bieger, the HSG will invest in digitalisation in the coming year. Why is that?
The University has four tasks in this respect. Firstly, we must ensure that our graduates acquire the competencies they need in the labour market. For this purpose, we'll start a pilot project called Data Science Fundamentals in autumn 2017. In this certificate programme, students are given the opportunity to acquire basic knowledge in the field of data science and develop the skill to share in the development of "data-driven" projects in companies and organisations. Secondly, we must make use of the new methods in research which arise from digitalisation. Handling big data constitutes a big step for research in social sciences because the internet provides an enormous amount of information that enable us to read human behaviour. From 2018/2019 onwards, we additionally intend to set up four new chairs in the field of information science to ensure that we'll have the additional methodological competence (software, algorithms, databases, artificial intelligence), as well as the corresponding teaching capacities. Thirdly, as a university we will have to develop further new forms of teaching and learning which use new media. And the University's fourth task is to observe digitalisation, which has an incisive impact on society, with a critical eye.
Isn't the HSG also considering a new major in IT?
A feasibility study commissioned by the St.Gallen Appenzell Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) concluded in April 2017 that the establishment of a major in IT at the Bachelor's and Master's Levels that combines information technology and business is feasible for the HSG and makes sense for the region. The establishment of the possible major with an additional four to five chairs will now have to be judged by the politicians. If they should grant funds for the purpose, this might result in a separate new school in the longer term.
Mr Kölliker, the Canton is also pushing an education offensive in the field of IT. Should every schoolchild be able to program, and if so, why?
Yes, but at two levels: computer scientists must be able to program professionally. We've got too few of those here. To remedy this situation, we've already been able to take measures in the form of academic stream IT secondary schools, and further measures are being planned for an education offensive in IT. In future, every child from primary level upwards should understand what programming means. Knowing how the laws of IT work should become a cultural technique like reading and writing.
Mr Kölliker, it is expected that the extension of the University of St.Gallen will be decided at the ballot box in 2019. What benefits will the HSG's spatial extension have for the Canton?
Primarily, this is about providing the HSG, which is bursting at the seams, with more breathing space. We'll be able to make a great contribution here with the new campus for about 3,000 students in the Platztor area in Unterer Graben. In this way, the HSG will also become more noticeable in the city and return to its roots. In addition, the University is an important economic factor: in 2015, the HSG created added value in the amount of 237 million francs for the Appenzell AR - St.Gallen - Lake Constance region. This is tantamount to 820 francs per inhabitant. With the extension of the University, we'll ensure a corresponding development in this location.
Professor Bieger, and why is this campus extension so important for the HSG?
The current infrastructure provides space for 5,000 students, the Library only space for 3,500 students – and this with more than 8,300 students at present. So we'll have to get rid of the obvious capacity bottlenecks. Also, the University of St.Gallen is exposed to international competition. We therefore also need the infrastructure which will enable us to maintain our high quality of teaching and research and to attract talented students and outstanding faculty members.
Professor Bieger, when you look ahead, where do you see the biggest challenges?
First of all, we must ensure that we'll be able to preserve quality in our core business – teaching and research, for other locations and many foreign private universities invest a great deal of money in this. This requires the commitment of faculty, students, Student Union, Administration and alumni. Furthermore, we depend on the population, in particular, to continue to have confidence in what we do and to enable investment in their only university.
Mr Kölliker, what goals does the University's Board of Governors want to reach in the coming years?
One the one hand, we'll have to be able to demonstrate to the population that there is a need for the Joint Medical Master, digitalisation and the extension of the HSG. And when, as we hope,
these projects have been approved, there will be their concrete implementation. On the other hand, next year we'll have the job of drawing up a good new performance agreement for the HSG for 2019–2022.