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The German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk – DSW) is the umbrella organization for the 58 local student service organizations (Studentenwerke – STW) in Germany. The Studentenwerke provide public services for the economic, social, medical and cultural support for students in German universities. They help to create a society based on equity. In cooperation with universities and the surrounding city administrations, the Studentenwerke improve the framework for higher education and aid in shaping university life. DSW plays an important role in helping Studentenwerke achieve these goals. All of the different interest groups, including students, work together with the legal representatives of the local Studentenwerke in the decision making process.

The Association[1][edit]

According to the statutes, the Deutsches Studentenwerke has three bodies: the general assembly, the board of directors, and the secretary general. There is also an advisory board (Kuratorium), which is composed of the conference of rectors, students, representatives of federal and regional government, the German Cities Association (Deutscher Städtetag), unions and employers as well as members of parliament and other public figures. The Council of the federal states (Länderrat) consults the board of directors and the secretary general in all matters of fundamental importance. The students council (Studierendenrat), established in May 2004, also plays an important role. It is composed of student members who are actively involved in the bodies of local Studentenwerke. In addition to this, there are nine committees on specific subjects which consult the association.


Date Event
1921 Founding of the self-help organization " Wirtschaftshilfe der Deutschen Studentenschaft e.V." in Tübingen, based in Dresden. It is supported by students, faculty and relevant personalities from the political, public and economic as friends and supporters of the universities. Adoption of the Erlanger program.
1922 Establishing the "Darlehenskasse der Deutschen Studentenschaft e.V." in Dresden and the associated funding support for advanced students.
1923/24 Construction of the first student houses in Bonn and Aachen, Dresden and Munich.

This student houses have not only practical functions, such as Providing rooms for the cafeteria, they should also serve cultural activities.

1927 The Association of German universities founded in Dresden a "Deutsche Akademische Auslandsstelle". It is closely connected to the economic support of the German student body. With the help of the local economy is an attempt to support foreign students at universities and help them to become familiar with conditions in Germany.
1925–1931 1925 "Akademische Austauschdienst e.V." in Heidelberg was founded, who moved his office to Berlin in the same year. 1931, both where combined to the " Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienst" (DAAD), headquartered in Berlin.
1929 Name change to „Deutsches Studentenwerk e.V.“
From 1933 Cooptation of the Deutsches Studentenwerk e.V.: dissolution of legally independent local student unions, transfer as a dependent part of the institutions in 1934 by decree of the Minister of Science, Education and National Education, Bernhard Rust, built "Reichsstudentenwerk” located in Berlin.
1945–1949 Refoundation of Studentenwerken at the West German universities and in West Berlin
1950 The local Studentenwerke join in Marburg together to the "Verband Deutscher Studentenwerke e.V.".
1956 Reorganization of the umbrella association in "Deutsches Studentenwerk".
1957 The forerunner of today's BAföGs is introduced
1962 In Bochum Mensaplan a cheapening of canteens for students is recommended for the first time. Students should pay only the cost of the true use, but not the costs of the preparation.
1969–1975 Conversion of most local Studentenwerke in national institutions under public law. Entry into force of the Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetzes (BAföG). The Studentenwerke are responsible for the implementation.
1982 Establishment of the Federal Minister of Education and Science funded counseling center for handicapped university applicants and students at the German Studentenwerk in Bonn.
1990 Formation of partnerships between Studentenwerken in the Federal Republic of Germany and the emerging Studentenwerken in the GDR.
1991 During the 70-year celebration in Dresden: Admission of Studentenwerke Chemnitz, Cottbus, Dresden, Freiberg, Greifswald, Halle, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Potsdam, Rostock, Thuringia and Zwickau in the German Studentenwerk.
1999 Official founding of the European Council for Student Affairs (ECStA) under Belgian law with headquarters in Brussels. Its goal is to improve the social infrastructure at universities in Europe and to promote cooperation between institutions that are active in this field. The German Studentenwerk provides the secretariat, Director of ECStA is the General Secretary of the German Studentenwerk.
2000 The German Studentenwerk is co-organizer of the European Cultural Festival in Kraków (Poland).


supports its members in achieving their goals, while respecting their self-reliance and independence.

The DSW:

  • supports the interests of its members and carries their know-how into policy making on the federal and regional levels
  • provides general support to local Studentenwerke; examples of how support can be provided include seminars, conferences, – training manuels, publications and new and continuing professional development training
  • engages in lobbying and advocacy efforts;
  • develops collaborative relationships with institutions and organisations which share the same goals
  • carries out tasks within its mission from public administration, institutions and organisations
  • defends the interests of students at universities in social policy

Department for International Relations[4][edit]

The German National Association for Student Affairs (Deutsches Studentenwerk – DSW) strives for higher education to be an international, intercultural, open and tolerant higher education area, in which the social and economic well-being of all students is guaranteed by strong, independent, professional and well-equipped student services organisations. The growing internationalization of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) involves not only research and teaching, but also involves the understanding that excellent social and economic living conditions for all students is a precondition for successful learning. It also requires broad access to higher education for all social groups in a society of knowledge. Therefore, the Deutsches Studentenwerk is working towards free, democratic and accessible higher education for everyone regardless of social background or nationality. The international and intercultural activities of DSW intend to create a free exchange of experience, mutual learning and to create new knowledge in all important areas of student affairs.

International relations[5][edit]

Establishing and developing relationships with partner organisations abroad, including the exchange of information and experience with these organisations is a core commitment of Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW). DSW cooperates with numerous partner organisations abroad. For more than 40 years, close relations have been maintained with partners in France, Italy and other European countries. On the European level, DSW works closely with the organisations that are united in the European Council for Student Affairs (ECStA). Apart from this, DSW maintains good contacts to umbrella organisations in North America and in the Asia-Pacific region. The development of collaboration with countries that have recently joined the European Union or are candidates to accession is another core task in international relations.

European Council for Student Affairs[6][edit]

The Deutsches Studentenwerk is an active member of the European Council of Student Affairs (ECStA), the European umbrella group founded in 1999. ECStA’s goal is to improve the social infrastructure at higher education institutions and to support cooperation between organisations that are active in this field. With its actions, ECStA aims to support student mobility within programs and of free movers, who are organising and financing their studies abroad themselves. The focus of ECStA's work lies on study financing, housing, food, counselling and cultural activities of students. A part from this, the Council organises conferences and seminars, carries out research project and arranges exchange projects for students and staff. Finally, ECStA works as a consulting body for the institutions of the European Union as well as for national governments in all questions regarding the social framework of studying. In 2009, there were about 20 member institutions from 14 European countries. DSW is actively working in the ECStA Board of Management.


  1. ^ "German National Association for Student Affairs". Webpage Deutsches Studentenwerk. Visited on 17. November 2013.
  2. ^ "Chronicle 1921 – 2001". Webpage Deutsches Studentenwerk. Visited on 17. November 2013.
  3. ^ "German National Association for Student Affairs". Webpage Deutsches Studentenwerk. Visited on 17. November 2013.
  4. ^ "Department for International Relations". Webpage Deutsches Studentenwerk. Visited on 17. November 2013
  5. ^ "International Relations". Webpage Deutsches Studentenwerk. Visited on 17. November 2013
  6. ^ "European Council for Student Affairs". Webpage Deutsches Studentenwerk. Visited on 17. November 2013