Faculty (University)

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At universities, a faculty designates a group of sciences or a department with several scientific areas as the teaching and administrative unit of a university , college of education , art college or technical college . It includes teachers and learners as well as the assigned non-academic staff. It is headed by a dean who is responsible for faculty development. This signed on behalf of the faculty at Habilitations the certificate of "teaching certificate" and promotions that through doctoral degrees.

The faculty (at some universities also the department , see below) is responsible for organizing research , teaching and studying in its field of science. To a certain extent, it is sovereign under corporate law (recognizable by the right to award doctorates , its own seal , its own (often legally still existing, factually no longer exercised) gown law and other things).

Faculties and departments

Seal of the Königsberg faculties (1544–1945)

Since the Middle Ages, most European universities have traditionally been divided into four faculties: a general ( propaedeutic ) artist faculty , from which the Faculty of Philosophy later developed, and three faculties for theology , law and medicine related to a specific professional field . In the course of the emergence and differentiation of new scientific disciplines, further faculties emerged in many places in the 19th and, above all, in the 20th century, either by outsourcing the emerging natural and social sciences or by adding new subjects that were not previously taught at universities (e.g. B. Economics or Engineering ).

Since 1969, in the course of the reorganization of higher education through the higher education laws of the federal states, the traditional term faculty has been replaced by the term department , which encompasses a narrower range of subjects, especially at newly founded universities . This regulation also found its way into the first university framework law of 1976. Instead of the dean there was a department spokesman.

In the GDR , too , the faculties were almost simultaneously in the course of the III. University reform from 1967 replaced by smaller "sections".

It was only later that universities were again allowed to designate their departments as faculties or to merge several departments into faculties, so that today there are also faculties and departments at some larger universities , the latter then representing an intermediate level between the faculty and institutes or seminars.

Faculty Council

The Faculty Council - according to the particular structure of the University and Faculty Council - made up of elected members of the group of university teachers (in many states by one vote ), representatives of the students , the mid-level faculty and technical staff together.

The faculty council elects the dean and, if necessary, other members of the collegial body of the dean's office (vice dean, vice dean, dean of studies, etc.).

The task of the faculty council is - depending on the higher education law of the state and the basic rules of a university - to decide or advise on the use of resources of the faculty (money and material resources, staff, rooms, etc.) and on fundamental questions of research and teaching of the faculty. This includes u. a. also the establishment or discontinuation and closure of study programs as well as study and examination regulations . In addition, the faculty council can be involved in the awarding of academic degrees and titles ( doctor , doctor habilitatus , private lecturer , honorary doctor ).

The meetings of the faculty council (also faculty council) are usually chaired by the dean . He is chosen from among the professors on a temporary basis (e.g. for two to four years) by the Faculty Council or - for example in the case of a full-time dean - also appointed externally (permanently).

Since the introduction of the so-called group university in the late 1960s, the faculty council has long been the most important decision-making body at the faculty level. With the increasing introduction of management structures in the universities , however, the powers are shifting noticeably - similar to the Academic Senate - in favor of the Dean's office and the university management.


Faculties are principally made up of chairs . In combined faculties, such as social sciences and economics, the chairs of the respective subject area are referred to as subject area or subject group. Particularly in full faculties, i.e. faculties that cover all research directions of a subject, there is a breakdown into institutes or seminars . An institute / seminar often includes a teaching area (e.g. English studies, microeconomics) and is headed by a managing director. This is chosen from the ranks of the chair holders and professors without a chair of the institute / seminar. The term department is less clear; it can describe both smaller seminars and groups of chairs the size of a department or faculty.

In contrast to institutes, affiliated institutes do not have the right to award academic degrees, but they also bear the name institute and appear more often in faculty overviews.

Faculty's facilities

A faculty usually operates joint facilities. These can be: the faculty library, laboratories, workshops, etc.

A faculty often also includes the examination office and the examination board of this faculty, which organizes and administers the examinations (intermediate diploma, bachelor, diploma, master). Some universities also have central examination offices that organize the exams either for the entire university or for several faculties. As a rule, separate examination offices have been set up for state examinations .

The doctoral committee, which is responsible for the doctoral studies , also belongs to the facilities of a faculty .

Furthermore, all employees of a faculty are obliged to provide student advice. As a rule, the individual faculties appoint special advisors as academic advisors who advise both students and prospective students on the subjects offered.

With the introduction of tuition fees in some federal states, so-called tuition fee commissions were set up, which reflect the membership distribution of the faculty council (professors, junior staff and students) on a smaller level and whose members are temporarily elected by the faculty council. They are directly responsible to the faculty council and advise it on the proposals submitted by the faculty's seminars and institutes for the use of the allocated tuition fees. The institutes or seminars must comment on every incoming proposal to the tuition fee commission and approve or reject it, the final decision is then made by the faculty council.


Internal university cooperation: study faculties

Sometimes several faculties join forces to conduct a joint interdisciplinary course. An example of this is the Faculty of Forest Science & Resource Management at the Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan ( Freising ).

Supraregional cooperation: Faculty and department days

Most faculties and departments have come together to form faculty or department days for the supraregional exchange of experiences and for the perception of common interests vis-à-vis politics and the public . B. the Faculty Day Health Sciences .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Martha Meyer-Althoff: Humanities (studies). In: Dieter Lenzen (Ed.): Enzyklopädie Erziehungswissenschaft. Volume 10: Ludwig Huber (ed.): Training and socialization in the university. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-12-932310-4 , pp. 510-518, here p. 511 f.
  2. Martha Meyer-Althoff: Humanities (studies). In: Dieter Lenzen (Ed.): Enzyklopädie Erziehungswissenschaft. Volume 10: Ludwig Huber (ed.): Training and socialization in the university. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-12-932310-4 , pp. 510-518, here p. 513.
  3. ^ The higher education reforms of the GDR University Leipzig 2009.