Universities (from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scolarium , "community of teachers and students", later in Humboldt's sense for universitas litterarum , "totality of the sciences") are universities with the right to award doctorates , which serve the maintenance and development of the sciences through research , teaching and study but should also provide their students with practical professional qualifications . In addition to the comprehensive universities , which offer a wide range of subjects ( universality ) and can have tens of thousands of students ( mass universities ), there are also smaller state and private universities , which mostly specialize in a few subjects, and the number of enrolled students is more in the four-digit range.
The University of Bologna (1088) in Italy is commonly counted as the oldest university in the world in the modern sense (a prototype was the School of Salerno ), whereas the University of Heidelberg (1386) the oldest in Germany, the University of Vienna (1365) the oldest in Austria and the University of Basel (1460) represent the oldest in Switzerland. The University of Oxford (about 1096) is the oldest English university, Harvard University (1636), the oldest in the United States.
The term university (from the Latin universitas “totality”) conceptually characterizes a comprehensive educational institution in the field of science. At the then newly founded institutions of Bologna (founded in 1088), Paris (founded around 1150) or Oxford (founded in the 12th century) one studied in today's sense of a Studium generale . There was still a manageable number of scientific disciplines ( septem artes liberales , ' Seven Liberal Arts ', supplemented by theology, jurisprudence and medicine). The entirety of these sciences was later referred to as universitas litterarum ('totality of the sciences'). It was primarily through Wilhelm von Humboldt , who elevated the unity of teaching and research to the basic principle of university work, that this term became formative for the modern university. In addition, the original understanding of universitas , which had grown out of the corporate organizational forms of medieval teaching and learning communities ( universitas magistrorum et scholarium , community of teachers and learners) in the area of important church education centers, took a back seat. But it lives on in the concept of university autonomy.
With the increasing differentiation and multiplication of the fields of science, the terminology that was linked to the general studies has outlived itself, since today no single institution can represent the entirety of the sciences. In this respect, the term university can only be used meaningfully for the entirety of all, largely specialized, universities . The terminology aimed at the academic community has also lost its original place of application and expanded its meaning, since this meaning applies to all universities , e.g. also to technical colleges .
Characteristics and tasks
Formative for the term university have been since the European Middle Ages
- the community of teachers and students ( universitas magistrorum et scholarium ),
- the right to self-administration with the possibility of creating and executing study plans and research projects independently ( academic freedom ) and
- the privilege of awarding publicly recognized academic degrees (e.g. diploma or doctoral degree ).
The universities in the German-speaking area offer training courses according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), the UNESCO system for the classification of training systems, in levels 5 and 6. They belong to the tertiary education sector .
The first universities in Europe emerged in the high Middle Ages . With the advent of the universities, the monopoly of teaching and knowledge of the monasteries was broken. Nevertheless, university teaching, especially in Central and Northern Europe, was influenced by the religious orders and the clergy until well into the modern era .
Since the establishment of the Berlin University in 1810 (called Humboldt University since 1949 ), the Humboldtian model of the unity of research and teaching has established itself internationally , which states that teachers should also conduct research in addition to their teaching activities, so that this high level of teaching is maintained and students can be better conveyed scientific qualifications.
Universities are generally characterized by a broader range of subjects. This feature applies above all to the so-called “mass universities”. The aim is to offer diversity (diversitas) under the umbrella of an institutional unit (unitas). Typical are the classical faculties for philosophy ( humanities , today also the philological and historical subjects), medicine , theology and law , which were introduced in the Middle Ages . Then there are the natural sciences - which were taught as a branch of philosophy until the Renaissance , as well as mathematics - as well as the economic and social sciences and other areas of work.
Some universities have thematic priorities such as technology and show this in their names (example: RWTH Aachen University ). Some universities, such as the pedagogical universities of equal status , use the designation "university" in the subtitle for better identification, especially in international correspondence. The former universities of agricultural science and forest science were usually merged with traditional universities, so that these engineering courses are now offered at universities.
Art colleges are artistic and artistic-scientific colleges that are on an equal footing with universities. In addition to the art colleges in the narrower sense, whose subject areas include fine arts , visual communication and architecture , this also includes the music academies , academies for acting and film schools .
The concept of the comprehensive university , which was implemented at several study locations in North Rhine-Westphalia and Kassel ( Hesse ), provided for the integration of the technical college and university courses. The last matriculations were possible in North Rhine-Westphalia in the 2005/2006 winter semester. In the Higher Education Act of Hesse, enrollment with a high school diploma or technical college entrance qualification is stipulated as an entry requirement for the bachelor's and master's degrees at universities .
A special feature is the principle of the distance university , which offers a course of study with the help of teaching material delivered in writing to the student's place of residence (in contrast to the face- to- face university ). This offer is mostly used by students who have already completed a degree, who have families or children or who are already working. Prisoners can also study at the distance university.
There are two Bundeswehr universities (UniBw) in Germany , one in Munich and one in Hamburg. The majority of all officer candidates in the Bundeswehr study at one of these universities, which can cover almost the entire range of fields of study required by the Bundeswehr. These are mainly technical, but also economics and organizational science subjects as well as education . University of applied sciences degrees can also be obtained at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich. The medical officer cadets who study medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or pharmacy attend regular civil universities. (see also the history of the former officers' colleges in the GDR )
Also new for Germany is the concept of the foundation university, which was at least partially implemented by 2005 at three universities in Lower Saxony (Göttingen, Lüneburg, Hildesheim). The basic idea is to provide the university with endowment capital from which the university finances itself. This should free the universities from state constraints and make them more flexible in their decisions. Traditionally, this model already exists in the United States of America . The best-known universities there have a very large foundation capital , which results primarily from their own economic income and inheritances as well as private donations.
Increasingly, private universities are also being founded in Germany . Smaller endowed and private universities, as they traditionally exist in the Anglo-American region, sometimes have to struggle with the problem of becoming too dependent financially on a certain sponsor. In addition, the tuition fees constitute a further source of funding in a considerable amount, which can lead to a financial selection among the prospective students.
Citizens' universities and children's universities are temporary events that are part of the public relations work of a university. They are intended to make university operations transparent for children and non-academics and to promote the concerns of the universities.
The German University in Cairo (GUC) in Cairo / Egypt is currently the world's largest educational project supported by Germany. For information on German activities abroad in this area, see also the Chinese-German University College .
Historically, medieval educational institutions in non-European countries (in Africa and Asia, especially in the Islamic area) are referred to as universities that do not meet all the characteristics of a European university (see also madrasa ). Above all, the award of academic degrees is to be regarded as a specifically European invention.
Educational institutions of antiquity, for example in ancient Egypt and Greece or in the Roman Empire, are usually not referred to as universities, although corresponding terms were also common back then.
The university, which emerged from the Christian educational system and ideas of medieval Western Europe, is considered a classic European creation. The origins lie in the monastery and cathedral schools , which go back to the 6th century. In the course of time, both the structure and the departments of the universities have expanded and changed. The basic idea of education remained, however. As a result of the continuing economic upswing after the war and the educational reforms, numerous new universities were founded in Germany from the 1960s and 1970s, mostly through the expansion of the existing teacher training colleges.
"The German universities are the light of the world."
University system in Germany
According to the Basic Law , higher education legislation is basically a matter for the federal states. If you disregard the centralistic period of the Third Reich or the GDR, this also corresponds to the historical development in Germany. Almost all of the old universities were built by the sovereigns, who, however, required an imperial privilege. For reasons of university financing, however, the federal government also came up with framework legal regulations with the university framework law . Due to the federal reform , the repeal of the higher education framework law is sought. Otherwise, the federal states have to come to an international agreement on mutually wanted or unwanted issues, which usually takes place within the framework of the Conference of Ministers of Education . This, too, has a historical dimension: as early as 1654, at the Reichstag in Regensburg , the Protestant imperial estates reached their first agreement to curb the then rampant Pennalism at the universities. The Basic Law was changed so that the federal and state governments can work together on certain tasks.
In Germany, most universities are now organized as legally competent public corporations and are subject to the supervision of the federal states. The relevant ministry (or - in city states - the senator) for science is responsible. The legal basis for universities and other higher education institutions in a federal state is the State University Act .
In Switzerland, the cantons are responsible for the universities and colleges. The only exceptions are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne , which are funded by the Swiss federal government.
The learners at a university are known as students or (for gender equality ) as students. The different types of teachers are grouped under the heading of lecturers (or lecturers). Teaching and research at a university are managed independently by the professors of the relevant subject.
At the head of a university there is a rector or president , who is usually a university professor himself. He is usually supported by several Vice Rectors or Vice Presidents, with special responsibilities such as teaching or research. The traditional salutations magnificence for the rector or spectabilities for the vice rectors and deans are no longer common today. The head of administration is usually called the chancellor . A university chancellor is usually a lawyer or an administrative specialist. The most important decision-making body is the Senate , in which professors, academic and non-academic staff and, in some cases, students have their seats.
There is the University Rectors ' Conference (HRK) at the federal level to represent universities to politics and the public, and the State Rectors' Conference (LRK) for cooperation between the universities at the state level . There the university is represented by the rector or president.
The area of responsibility of the university administration includes matters of research, teaching and studies, budget, personnel and law, but also building management as well as occupational safety and environmental protection.
One example is the student secretariat , which is responsible for the administration of students in a university. The students enroll and deregister here. On the basis of the documents kept here, the secretariat is also able to issue certificates of study for a wide variety of purposes.
The International Office (AAA) is the point of contact for all questions regarding a study visit abroad , related scholarships and the recognition of academic records . Academic foreign offices also check the university entrance qualification of international students for the respective university and advise them on their studies in Germany.
Faculties or departments
Universities are divided into individual faculties or departments, which are headed by a dean (traditional salutation: spectability ) or department spokesman (see e.g. the medical faculty , theological faculty ). The position of the dean or spokesman usually changes between the professors of the faculty (see also faculty development ). Faculties have their own seal of approval and the right to hold academic examinations and then award the relevant academic degrees. The independence of the faculties goes back to the Middle Ages, when the universities grew together from independent units.
The faculties can in turn be divided into institutes or seminars that represent individual subject areas in teaching and research. You will be headed by one of the professors teaching there (for example with the title of institute director).
The research is divided into basic research and applied research. Research is promoted and financed through corresponding research programs and contracts from the federal state, the DFG , and other associations and foundations. However, research also takes place on behalf of companies and other public institutions. Institutes in particular can contribute to the financing of university operations through applied research ( third-party research ) and offer additional opportunities for students. On the other hand, companies can be supported in the practical implementation by the project-related award of research contracts and thus benefit from it. Due to the financing options, the institutes sometimes have their own legal status (see affiliated institute ).
Each university also has central, cross-faculty facilities.
The university libraries , which are responsible for collecting and keeping the required scientific literature available, are important for academic work . Not only are books ( monographs ) procured, but scientific journals and book series are also subscribed to (see also specialist journal ).
The university computing center is a central facility that provides and operates information technology ( IT ) infrastructure ( university network , server, etc.) as well as IT services (e-mail, web services, etc.) and advice. Data centers also sometimes supply several universities with IT infrastructures.
Due to the increasing use of online media in teaching and research, these two central institutions continue to gain in importance. They cooperate in overlapping areas of responsibility.
The sports center of a university is usually not only responsible for research and teaching in the field of sports science , but also offers training opportunities for students from all faculties in a wide variety of disciplines within the framework of university sports . Some universities have University Sports Clubs (USC).
All universities with a medical faculty have a university clinic , which is a larger item in the budget of the respective university. The chief physicians in the individual specialist clinics are usually university professors.
Further facilities can be, for example, scientific centers, special research areas , affiliated institutes , laboratories , observatories , museums , collections or botanical gardens that are maintained by individual faculties or across faculties.
The Studentenwerk takes care of the social needs of the students. Student unions ensure a regular, inexpensive lunch menu, the so-called cafeteria (Latin for “table”), operate student dormitories or offer advice to students. As a rule, there is a student union at a university location that takes care of the students from all universities and colleges in the city (or region).
In addition to the university, there are also independent research institutions such as Max Planck Institutes at numerous locations.
The academic path of education
The way to graduation
The study begins for the students with the enrollment and ends with the de-registration . The academic year in Germany is usually divided into two semesters (winter and summer semester). In between there is the lecture-free time , in which work is still being written and exams written, or semester breaks , which temporarily release students from all obligations of their studies. At some universities it is common to divide the academic year into three trimesters (e.g. Universities of the Bundeswehr, Bucerius Law School). The basic requirement for enrollment is usually a general or subject-specific university entrance qualification . For some subjects (medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and dentistry) there are nationwide admission restrictions ( Numerus clausus ) by the Foundation for University Admissions (SfH), other subjects may have admission restrictions depending on the university. In this case, the applicant must submit an application to the SfH or the university.
The most important courses at universities are (at least theoretically) the lectures in which a lecturer with academic license to teach ( venia legendi ) lectures from his subject area, if possible from his research area. These can be professors , but also private lecturers - the prerequisite is that the lecturer has the venia legendi . The course content is further deepened in so-called seminars or exercises. These courses are often led by assistants or other lecturers. The cooperation of the students is also required here. In natural science courses, for example, laboratory work is carried out, in the humanities subjects the students take part with presentations.
Halfway through the course or a certain period of time, an intermediate examination is usually taken, which is often given a faculty-specific designation. After four semesters of their regular studies, doctors take their physics course before starting the clinic (eight further semesters).
After the main course, the second half of the regular study period, the student takes his or her exam, which is again designated according to the faculty and course specific to the academic degree to be obtained (“Magisterprüfung”, “Diplomprüfung”, “Staatsexamen” etc.).
Proof of achievement, the so-called certificates , is required for admission to the exam . These are usually not acquired in the lectures, but in exercises and seminars. As a rule, written and oral examinations must be taken for the exam and a written paper must often be submitted that is intended to prove that the student is able to reflect the state of research of a sub-area of the science he has studied or a special topic and to deal with it , ideally to answer a question raised. Unlike the dissertation , the candidate is not expected to make any scientific progress.
Theologians are qualified for a career in the church through the church examination, the equivalent of the state examination.
After successful completion of the exam, the student is awarded a faculty-specific academic degree ( diploma , master's degree, etc.) that qualifies for a job. The state examination does not entitle the holder to use a certain degree, but is generally accepted as the starting point for a doctorate.
As part of the Bologna Process that began in 1999, this structure of academic studies has fundamentally changed. A large part of the study programs in Germany has already been gradually converted to the achievement of the new master's and bachelor's degrees in order to guarantee a Europe-wide harmonization and comparability of the degrees. Across Europe, 45 countries have joined this process, which in practice is often associated with enormous problems and is exposed to sharp criticism internally, which, however, is hardly noticed by the public. One consequence of the Bologna Process is that university graduates are getting younger and younger and their training periods are shortened significantly. In Germany in particular, students today still need an average of 10.6 semesters for their studies, compared with 12.8 semesters in 2000. The average age of university graduates in Germany is only 27.1, compared to 28.2 years in 2000. One of the advantages of the Bologna Process is that students are integrated into the labor market earlier. Critics, on the other hand, complain that the quality of training suffers from the new system and that academic training is subordinated solely to economic interests.
The path to a doctorate
After the exam one can doctoral studies be started after the end of the doctoral candidate the doctorate acquires what is expected in some schools for vocational qualifications and in any case is considered proof of "scientific competence". These are above all the humanities and natural sciences as well as medicine . The "Doctor" is the highest academic degree. The doctorate is obtained by submitting a dissertation , an independent research paper , and by passing a rigorosum and / or a scientific disputation , during which the doctoral candidate usually has to defend his work scientifically. The type and sequence of this “oral procedure” vary greatly from subject to subject and from university to university. After successfully completing the last examination, the candidate is deemed to have had a doctorate and receives his certificate with the grade. One can, however, only after the term "Dr." in Germany Publication result of the doctoral thesis. A doctoral degree acquired abroad had to be "nostrified" before the Bologna reform before it could also be used in Germany. This required a thorough review of the equivalence of the requirements by the responsible ministry of education.
The way to a professorship
After completing his doctorate, the doctor can prepare for the habilitation . As a rule, this means that, above all, another qualification thesis, the so-called habilitation thesis, must be prepared. This can be a monograph. However, it can also consist of several publications (cumulative habilitation). During the preparation of this document (s), the habilitand is usually employed in the position of a "research assistant" (according to TV-L 13 or TVöD 13). Often there is also an employment or civil service as an "academic advisor" (according to A13 ). In some federal states, this position has replaced the “university assistant” ( C1 ), which was abolished nationwide with the reform of the salaries of lecturers.
Upon completion of the habilitation, the title of private lecturer is awarded and the Venia Legendi is awarded. This is the permission to give lectures at a university and to take exams independently. However, the aim is to become a full professor , which takes place after a certain, quite complex appointment procedure . A professor's position in Germany is traditionally a civil servant position and is associated with a position in the civil service for life. In the meantime, it is customary, especially for first-time appointments, to initially only offer the position for a limited period. An extension of the time limit after the agreed period has expired is made by the responsible faculty after the probation has been established.
Recently there has also been the establishment of a junior professor , a position that is intended to qualify for a lifetime professorship instead of a habilitation. This is intended to harmonize academic careers around the world, since most countries outside of the German-speaking countries do not have a habilitation. The junior professorship is criticized, however, because the reform does not solve the crucial problem - the professional uncertainty associated with embarking on an academic career: the junior professor is also only employed on a temporary basis and must try to get a permanent position after six years at the latest. That is why many junior professors are now also aiming for a habilitation in order to increase their chances of finding a permanent position.
In some artistically oriented subject areas (e.g. art , design , architecture ), a habilitation is traditionally not seen as a mandatory requirement for a professorship. Sometimes not even a doctorate is necessary. A chair holder who can provide evidence of so-called equivalent achievements instead of a doctorate can also become a professor here. This also includes a high-quality, extensive list of publications. In engineering, after completing a doctorate, industry experience is customary instead of a habilitation.
Embarking on an academic career in Germany is associated with very high risks. After completing your doctorate - usually between the ages of 26 and 33, depending on the subject - you usually have to plan another five or six years before you can achieve your habilitation. Since, after the reform of the University Framework Act, you can in fact only be employed at a university for twelve years, this means that at your early forties you either have a permanent position (i.e. usually a professorship) - or you now have another position - usually in the private sector - must look. While it used to be quite common for a “curator” who was neither teaching nor researching to take up an assistant position for decades, today almost all “academic mid-level staff” in Germany suffer from enormous competitive pressure and considerable existential fear - a fact that hardly any student is aware of is: Only a few people know that a large number of the lecturers (and even some professors) are only assigned a temporary position.
This competitive pressure mostly results from the fact that the scientific labor market is subject to specific labor market cycles and is therefore in close interaction with social framework conditions. Currently, cuts in government funds, the construction of a loss of importance in certain subjects (such as the social sciences), the increasing number of habilitations over the last few decades and the thematic focus in teaching and research associated with developments in university policy in recent years are of particular importance .
Tax treatment of universities in Germany
Universities are corporations, but because of their recognized charitable function, they are generally exempt from corporation tax. However, if universities receive funds from third parties in order to carry out research activities on their behalf, the character of the non-profit status is partially broken, provided the research results are only made available to the client. The results therefore no longer directly serve the common good. Any profits generated by this are subject to corporation tax. There is no trade tax liability according to § 3 No. 30 GewStG; the service is, in accordance with the sales tax law, taxable at the full sales tax rate.
The Federal Higher Education Framework Act (HRG) has excluded general tuition fees in Germany since 2002. On January 26, 2005, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the complaint made by some Union-led federal states, which saw it as an inadmissible interference by the federal government in the legislative competence of the states in the field of culture. In the course of this, in 2006 the state universities in some federal states also began to introduce tuition fees . The amount was usually around 500 euros per semester. The subject of tuition fees is highly controversial and was the subject of student protests , so that general tuition fees were abolished nationwide from 2008 (Hesse) to 2014 (Lower Saxony).
Especially in the United States , the private university as an educational institution is highly valued and important in the academic and social fields. Thus the largest number of the oldest and most renowned universities in the country are organized under private law. This means that the financing, but also the selection of students, faculty or subjects is undertaken entirely independently and the university acts completely independently of the state. Because the annual budget of these institutions is only partly derived from taxpayers' money, private American universities are now dependent on high tuition fees from students or donations from civil society. The most famous American universities of this kind include Harvard University in Cambridge near Boston , Yale University in New Haven and Princeton University in Princeton .
However, there are also some private universities in Germany that bear the title of university . The term university is protected in Germany. Only (as a rule state) universities and universities of equal status, such as the medical or pedagogical universities, have the unrestricted right to doctorate and habilitation in Germany . Only they are also allowed to confer the title of doctor or professor (“right to confer doctorates ”). The title of university is accordingly awarded by the responsible state ministry and is based on strict accreditation guidelines, which mostly only state universities meet. These include the EBS University of Economics and Law , the University of Witten / Herdecke , the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management , the German University for Further Education in Berlin, the Jacobs University Bremen and the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen. Most other private educational institutions, however, only bear the title of technical college , art and music college or private university .
In France, the renowned grandes écoles can in principle be organized under both private and public law. Nevertheless, the most prestigious institutes among them, such as the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) or the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) are set up under public law. Various exceptions are the business schools, some of which are semi-private legal bodies and also have a connection to the local chambers of commerce , the famous example being the HEC Paris .
The oldest universities up to the 15th century
See also: List of the oldest universities
Modern university buildings in the picture
Oxford University : Blavatnik School of Government
Yale University : School of Management, Evans Hall
Heidelberg University : Institute of Pathology
École polythéchnique fédérale de Lausanne : Campus on Lake Geneva
Columbia University : Northwest Corner Building
University of Basel : Biozentrum
McGill University : Downtown campus
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen : Northern area
Technical University of Berlin : main building
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): Ray and Maria Stata Center
École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris
University of Singapore : School of Business and Management
Lists of universities
- Dies academicus , campus
- Top university
- Student association , student foundation
- University history , university town
- Student riots , student protest
- University reform , Center for University Development
- Tertiary education in Germany
- Tertiary education in the United States
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