At the first-ever GYA Lunchtime Talk at our host academy, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, GYA member Benjamin Hennig (Iceland/UK) gave a talk about his research on inequality in higher education on 6 March 2018. As an Associate Professor in Geography at the University of Iceland, Benjamin uses so-called cartograms to map social data. In his presentation, he showed effects of social inequality on the field of higher education, e.g. number of graduates per region or country, or the mobility rates of students within Europe.

Using data from the UK and Germany as example, he also discussed the unequal distribution of research funding and the ever-increasing reliance in higher education on university rankings. Focusing on these leads to the introduction of market principles into education and science. Science and education become quantified and the question of knowledge as a source for the common good in a society gets neglected.

Dr Karamba Diaby, the local member for the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, found the talk and the following discussion very stimulating: “I will be taking most of what’s been discussed back with me to the Bundestag”, he announced.

GYA’s newly-established Lunchtime Talk series aims to introduce GYA members and the Academy’s activities at the Leopoldina to foster synergies and to provide a platform for members who find themselves in Halle, Germany.