Witten/Herdecke University

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Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H)
Type Private
Established 1982
Endowment approx. 31 Mio. Euro
President Prof. Dr. Martin Butzlaff
Vice-president Prof. Dr. Rudolf Wimmer
Administrative staff
Students 2107
Location Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50, 58448 Witten, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
51°27′08″N 7°21′25″E / 51.45222°N 7.35694°E / 51.45222; 7.35694Coordinates: 51°27′08″N 7°21′25″E / 51.45222°N 7.35694°E / 51.45222; 7.35694
Website http://www.uni-wh.de/en/
Main building of the Universität Witten/Herdecke

Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H) is a private university in Witten, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It was the first German private institution of higher education to receive accreditation as a "Universität", a status recognizing the university's academic quality equivalent to state-run universities and granting the right to award doctorates and the German Habilitation. Its foundation and history has been marked by often controversial debates and significant difficulties to establish the new university in the German educational system. In 1995 Times Higher Education noted that the university was considered by some "an idealistic model for the future of German higher education and [by] others ... a carbuncle on the country's fiercely state-dominated university landscape".[1] Today Witten/Herdecke University has succeeded to be recognized as one of Germany's few private universities considered 'Humboldtian' and as a role model in terms of course structures, integration of practical and theoretical training and innovative approaches to payment of tuition fees.[2][3]

In 2012 more than 1300 students are enrolled at the University of Witten/Herdecke and it has a staff of 400 people.[4] Recent difficulties in securing private funding[5] and frequent changes in management[6] have shaken the university in the last years and resulted in comprehensive restructuring and the integration of new shareholders.


In accordance with its mission statement, the University of Witten/Herdecke strives for innovation and academic excellence by developing and testing new forms of teaching and learning, finding novel approaches in research, and exploring innovative paths in university organization.[7] Furthermore, the university encourages its students to take on social responsibility and considers civic engagement as the “third mission” in addition to research and student education.[4]


Rankings by major German Newspapers such as Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as well as the CHE University Ranking, the only comprehensive ranking for German Universities, acknowledge the excellent study conditions as well as very good career prospects for students from Witten/Herdecke University.[8][9][10] In the CHE 2012 report the university's programmes in Economics, Dental Medicine and Human Medicine have received top rankings in student's and graduates satisfaction.[11]


1982: Recognition by the Federal Government as Germany's first private university. Early supporter of the university include Alfred Herrhausen, Gerd Bucerius, Reinhard Mohn and the Bertelsmann Foundation.

1984: The degree programmes in economics and dental medicine are established

1990: The German Council of Science and Humanities reviews the university and grants it public funding support for buildings.

1993: The Institute of Fundamental Studies receives Faculty status. It will be become a core element of the Witten/Herdecke identity as every student regardless of his subject has to take courses offered by the faculty, thereby gaining interdisciplinary skills and reflexive capacities.

1995: Students of the University found the StudierendenGesellschaft Witten/Herdecke, a student association which introduces and until today operates an innovative inverted generational-contract payment model for student fees. The model avoids social selection in the admission process by enabeling students to repaying their tuition according to their own financial capacities after they have embarked on their professional careers.[12]

1996: The status of Witten/Herdecke University as a model university is underlined by a second review through the German Council of Science and Humanities. The state government follows recommendations to subsidize Witten/Herdecke University with public funds and the university establishes a degree programme in Nursing Science, the first of its kind in Germany.

2001: The University of Witten/Herdecke is accepted as a member of the Rector's Association of German Universities.

2005: The University converts all of its diploma programmes to bachelor/master programmes, accredited by the summer term of 2005.

2006: The University is urged to undergo a notable expansion of research and teaching at the Faculty of Medicine. In July 2006 the German Council of Science and Humanities approves the revised concept of the medical curriculum.

2007-2009: Witten/Herdecke hosts the Witten Lectures in Economics and Philosophy, with the purpose of "fostering philosophical reflection upon and proposing solutions to major economic and political issues".[13] The series brings laureates of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences such as Kenneth Arrow, Thomas Schelling, and George Akerlof to Germany's first private university.

2008: The university undergoes its most severe crisis since its foundation. Internal problems, the general economic crisis, loss of major sponsors and withdrawal of public funds culminate in a threat of insolvency. In December 2009 the State Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology announces its intention to withdraw funding. Students and professors of the university protest outside the state parliament in Düsseldorf.

2009: Major internal restructuring efforts and a new shareholder agreement with new partners secure the financial stability of the university and its academic development.

2010: Implementation of new degree programmes: The interdisciplinary Bachelor programme "Philosophy, Politics and Economics (B.A.)" and the Master programme "Family Business Management (M.Sc.)".

2011: The German Council of Science and Humanities reaccredits Witten/Herdecke University for a further 7-year period in response to extensive revisions since 2005/06.

Further Information[edit]

The Founding President Dr. Konrad Schily (now also member of the German Bundestag) is the brother of the politician Otto Schily, former Federal Minister of the Interior.


  1. ^ "Tuition fees make their mark". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "GERMANY: Private universities - not-so Ivy League - University World News". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "GERMANY: Eleventh-hour rescue package - University World News". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Short profile". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "Bildende Kunst - Goethe-Institut". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "GERMANY: Eleventh-hour rescue package - University World News". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Mission statement". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  8. ^ SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany (29 November 2004). "SPIEGEL-Studentenbefragung: Die besten Mediziner". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "CHE University Ranking". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Universität Witten/Herdecke bietet exzellente Karrierechancen". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  11. ^ ZEIT ONLINE GmbH, Hamburg, Germany. "Study at Universität Witten/Herdecke - CHE University Ranking on ZEIT ONLINE". CHE University Ranking. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "StudierendenGesellschaft Witten/Herdecke e.V. Umgekehrter Generationenvertrag". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Witten Lectures in Economics and Philosophy". Retrieved 22 July 2015. 

External links[edit]