Taz-initiative hochschulwatch: the fresenius medical care lecture hall

For one week hochschulwatch.de is online. The first results show: Not only Aldi-Sud uses the university as advertising space.

One hall, many people – for some the ideal advertising space. Image: dpa

Three years ago, the Wurzburg University of Applied Sciences hit the headlines because it renamed room Z 09 the "Aldi-Sud lecture hall." In return, the discount giant had provided money for the renovation.

A first look at the entries in the new Internet portal hochschulwatch.de, which the taz launched a week ago together with the anti-corruption organization Transparency International Deutschland and the student umbrella organization fzs, shows: Lecture hall sponsorship is a widespread phenomenon at German universities. At the Wurzburg University of Applied Sciences alone, there is a Sparkasse auditorium, a Fresenius Medical Care auditorium, and a Warema Renkhoff auditorium in addition to the Aldi auditorium.

Other universities have followed suit. The University of Mannheim, for example, is particularly eager, with 21 renamed lecture halls. A few years ago, the auditing company PricewaterhouseCoopers contributed 300,000 euros to the renovation of the main building. In return, the company received the naming rights to the former lecture hall M003.

For lecture hall O135, 43 companies, including Deutsche Bank, Bilfinger Berger and Lufthansa, gave 100,000 euros. The university thanked them – and renamed the room "Hall of Strong Brands" without any irony. Just this fall, the University of Augsburg sold the naming rights to two lecture halls – to a law firm and a logistics company.

In addition to lecture hall renamings and sponsorship campaigns at universities, users also entered endowed professorships in the first week. Cosmetics manufacturer Wella has donated a professorship for fashion and aesthetics to the TU Darmstadt. The fact that a company supports research in the humanities is remarkable, to say the least.

Hochschulwatch.de functions similarly to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia: Users can add to entries about individual universities. The goal is to show the connections between business and science. On the very first day, the site recorded around 30 hits per second.