Prof. Jens Kreisel, rector of the University of Luxembourg; Credit: University of Luxembourg recently had the opportunity to speak with Prof. Jens Kreisel, rector of the University of Luxembourg, about this year’s Open Day as well as the highlights of his mandate to date and the role of the university in attracting and retaining talent. Prof. Kreisel, you took over as rector of the University of Luxembourg on 1 January 2023. What have been some of your proudest achievements / the highlights or milestones linked to the university since then?

Prof. Jens Kreisel: In terms of education, we have launched several new study programmes. These include four specialised Bachelors in Nursing, a Master in Investment Fund Law, two EU-financed Masters in Cybersecurity and in High-Performance Computing, to name only a few. These programmes take into account both international tendencies and the needs of the country for well trained and linguistically proficient professionals in specific fields.

The year 2023 was marked by the integration process of the former Max Planck Institute for Procedural Law into our university. The integration in the form of an Interdisciplinary Centre in European Law (IC) took formally effect on 1 January of this year. With this IC, we seek a further strategic international positioning of the University of Luxembourg on topics such as legal aspects in the dual green-digital transition, the European sovereignty, and the evolving relationships between different levels of legislation in terms of European uniformity versus national diversity.

After much preparation, the university launched its new website in summer 2023, and which we will improve throughout 2024. Our website has an overarching goal: to attract passionate students and researchers to the university and the country.

We opened a new position for a vice-rector for partnerships and international relations to still foster our ambition in these two vital fields. I'm proud of the fact that our management team is now more diverse than ever by counting three female vice-rectors. More generally, we pursue our efforts to create and maintain a positive environment in which all members of the university community, students and staff alike, feel respected in a climate of mutual support and cooperation.

And of course, we celebrated the university’s 20 years, with events tailored for students, staff members, special guests and in fact the general audience in Luxembourg. What began as an academic startup is now an international research university.

There were many special moments. It was the first year I opened the university’s annual Open Day to thousands of visitors or the Graduation Week for fulfilled graduates. The first time also that I wished new students the best during the Welcome Day. Seeing how many people come to our events and interacting with them is each time a special moment. On 16 March 2024, the university opened its doors to future students and members of the public. How many visitors attended this year’s Open Day?

Prof. Jens Kreisel: The Open Day 2024 welcomed 5,000 visitors - that’s a significant increase on previous years. The event succeeded in attracting a large audience, who were able to discover all the aspects that make our institution so special. The feedback was overall positive and energising. What are the goals of such an event? 

Prof. Jens Kreisel: The University of Luxembourg aims to be a player for society. By opening its doors to citizens and future students, the university unlocks its knowledge to society. In addition, the Open Day fulfils an important practical objective: prospective students and doctoral candidates discover study programmes, the campus infrastructure, the teaching philosophy, admission criteria, housing options. They discover our offer in terms of international mobility, sports and cultural activities. The university has grown quite considerably over the past 20+ years, now adding about ten new study programmes to its curriculum in 2024/25. What is the significance of this growing curriculum (particularly for prospective students) and what are some of the focus areas?

Prof. Jens Kreisel: The university observes the evolutions of knowledge and on the labour market and adapts its study programmes. We also connect with companies and institutions and build bridges for our future graduates. Do you know that 50% of our graduates stay in Luxembourg for their first and second jobs? This strong link with the entrepreneurial side is of course related with our focus areas: Digital Transformation, Medicine and Health, and Sustainable and Societal Development. Those areas are a priority both in our study programmes enhancement and research activities. In light of rapid technological advances, and last year's 20th anniversary, how do you see the University of Luxembourg's role in the Grand Duchy and beyond (e.g. in the next 20 years)?

Prof. Jens Kreisel: As the only public university of this country, we are clearly an important strategic instrument for Luxembourg. Academic knowledge and research prepare our societies for future challenges. If our university is to remain the powerhouse of Luxembourg in research and innovation, it must cooperate internationally and further enable interdisciplinary approaches and partnerships. Because no single person, discipline, institution, company or country can alone address our challenges such as climate change, the digital transition, the ageing society or our democracy. I see our university as a front player in such partnerships and interdisciplinary research in Luxembourg, and in contributing to attract and retain the talent that Luxembourg needs.