University of Bern

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University of Bern
Université de Berne
motto Knowledge creates value
founding 1834
Sponsorship state: Canton of Bern
place Bern
country SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
Rector Christian Leumann
Professors 578
Annual budget 918 million CHF ,
including third-party funding 351 million CHF
(all figures as of December 31, 2019)
Networks IAU , Swissuniversities
Students at the University of Bern
Academic year Students
1990/1991 9,746
1995/1996 9,918
2000/2001 10,193
2005/2006 12,174
2009/2010 14,926
2013/2014 16,989
2014/2015 17,428
2015/2016 17,430
2016/2017 17,514
2017/2018 17,882
2018/2019 18,019
2019/2020 18,576
Facade of the Unitobler study building (2003)
Students in the foyer of the university building UniS (2006)
Main building of the University of Bern (around 1909)
Main building of the University of Bern (2019)

The University of Bern ( Université de Berne in French , Universitas Bernensis in Latin ) is a German-speaking full university founded in 1834 in the city of Bern in the bilingual Swiss canton of Bern with eight faculties , around 150 institutes and nine inter- and transdisciplinary competence centers. The five thematic priorities of the University of Bern are: Sustainability , Health and Medicine , Matter and Universe , Intercultural Knowledge as well as Politics and Administration . It occupies a leading international position in selected research areas such as space research . Teaching and research are interdisciplinary : three national research focuses, 409 National Fund projects, 96 EU projects and around 700 research collaborations on technology transfer with the public and private sectors are based in Bern. Of these, the National Research Center (NCCR) TransCure ( membrane biology ) is under Bern management.

In addition, the University of Bern shares the NCCR PlanetS ( planetary systems ) with the University of Geneva and the NCCR MUST ( experimental physics ) and the NCCR RNA & Disease ( ribonucleic acids ) with the ETH Zurich . The NCCR Climate ( climate research ) and North-South ( sustainability ) were completed on March 31, 2013. The activities will be continued in the Oeschger Center and the Center for Development and Environment (CDE) . The NCCR `` International Trade Regulation '' was completed on May 31, 2017.

The university has around 18,576 enrolled students . The central geographic location and the quality of life in the city of Bern, which is one of the highest in the world, as well as the range of courses on offer contribute to the university's appeal.



The university is divided into three organizational levels: the entire university, faculties and institutes. There are also other organizational units such as inter-faculty and university-wide units. The highest body of the entire university is the Senate, whose competence includes matters such as the issuing of statutes and regulations. The university management is subordinate to the Senate as a management and coordination body. It is composed of the Rector, the Vice Rectors and the Administrative Director. The structures and tasks of the university management and the other organizational units are regulated by the University Act. The University of Bern offers 39 bachelor's and 72 master's degree programs, which are completed by 7,799 bachelor students and 4,611 master and licensed students . 3,093 doctoral students are registered for this. This makes around 1,534 bachelor, 1,570 master and 637 doctoral degrees annually. For some time now, women have formed the majority of students; their share was 57 percent at the end of 2019. In addition, 120 further education study programs are offered.


Together with the University of Friborg , the University of Bern forms the so-called third University Center Mittelland, alongside the one in eastern Switzerland with Zurich / St. Gallen and the other around Lake Geneva with Lausanne / Geneva. This goes hand in hand with its position as an educational location in the capital region of Switzerland , together with Zurich, Basel, Ticino and Geneva-Lausanne ( Arc Lémanique ) one of five metropolitan areas in Switzerland. In contrast to other universities, the University of Bern does not rely on a campus on the outskirts, but consistently on the principle of the city university. Most of the institutes and clinics are still located in the traditional university district in Länggasse and can be quickly reached on foot. Also for the future it is planned to limit the spatial development to focal points within the Länggasse. Architecturally, the university buildings are characterized by the combination of old and new. So are the law and economics institute in the former women's hospital (now UniS) or the humanities in the former Tobler chocolate factory (today Unitobler)housed. This redesign was crowned with two architecture prizes. In autumn 2013 the new vonRoll university center was opened in the Länggasse. The University of Bern uses the new lecture hall building together with the PH Bern University of Education.


The prehistory - high school and academy (1500–1834)

The foundation stone of the University of Bern was laid in the 16th century when the introduction of the Reformation made it necessary to train new pastors at a high school. In the course of a reorganization of the secondary school system, the government of Bern converted the previous theological school into an academy with four faculties. Now, in addition to pastors, lawyers and medical professionals could complete a full degree in Bern .

The Old University - New Beginning and Growth (1834–1900)

In the struggles between conservatives and liberals during the regeneration in 1831, the liberals prevailed in the canton of Bern. It was among them that the academy was re-established as a university in 1834. 45 lecturers took care of 167 students. The new government relied on loyal civil servants and academics and therefore kept the study requirements very low at the beginning. It made it possible for new social classes to study at university. Due to the political situation, the university was only able to develop smoothly after the state was founded in 1848. In 1885, the 500 student limit was exceeded for the first time, but by the turn of the century this number had already doubled. This made the University of Bern the largest university in Switzerland at the time. Foreign students, who made up half of the student body and mainly came from Germany and Russia , ensured the rapid growth . It was also Russian female students who made a breach in women's studies after 1870.

The New University - Relocation and Consolidation (1900–1950)

Parallel to the prosperity of the city, the university also expanded at the end of the 19th century. The Länggass quarter was now home to various university offshoots: the new main building on the Grosse Schanze was inaugurated in 1903 . In addition, the number of faculties grew. In response to the papal infallibility dogma, the Christian Catholic theological faculty was founded in 1874 . The drifting apart natural sciences and humanities separated in 1921 into the philosophical-natural science and philosophical-historical faculty. In 1908/09, three personalities ensured eventful years at the University of Bern. From 1908 Albert Einstein taught theoretical physics for three semesters. In the following year, the Russian philosopher Anna Tumarkin was appointed associate professor, making it the first woman lecturer in Europe to do doctorates and post-doctoral degrees. And also in 1909, the surgeon Theodor Kocher received the Nobel Prize for Medicine . In the following years, Bern consolidated itself as a small cantonal university with student numbers around the 2,000 mark.

The modern university - expansion and organization (1950–2000)

In the 1950s, there was increasing demand for an expansion of the university and technical education sector. The university already had 5,000 students in 1968, and it was also expanding locally. Due to the rapid growth, a revision of the University Act was necessary. Only the partial revision of the Unigesetz in 1989 provided a remedy. The results were, among other things, a new university management with a term of office of several years for the rector and vice-rectors as well as the formation of inter-faculty institutions. In 1996 a modern, completely revised university law came into force. The University of Bern transformed this from an administrative department of the Education Directorate into an autonomous institution with its own legal personality. In addition, the law brought with it a performance agreement between the university and the state, which clearly delimited the competencies. As a further milestone, the university passed the threshold of 10,000 students in 1992.

Special tram for the 175th anniversary in the old town of Bern, 2009

The current university - Bologna reform and redesign (from 2000)

With the Bologna Declaration , the era of ECTS points as well as Bachelor and Master degrees began. Research priorities such as climate science were strategically defined and cross-university cooperation was promoted. The faculties regrouped within the university. In 2001 the Christian Catholic and Protestant theological faculties merged to form theological faculties. In contrast, the law and economics faculty split into two units. In 2005, psychology, educational science and sports science merged to form the Faculty of Human Sciences. In 2009, the University of Bern celebrated its 175th anniversary, in which it presented itself to the general public with over 50 events. The partially revised University Act was passed in summer 2010. This means that the Senate can continue to have a say in appointing the university management together with the government council, and the university management can now elect the full professors themselves and carry out its own account that is decoupled from the state. In 2013, the Strategy 2021 was adopted, which also went hand in hand with the definition of the five thematic focus areas: Sustainability , Health and Medicine , Matter and Universe , Intercultural Knowledge, and Politics and Administration . With the Strategy 2021, the University of Bern wants to gain new impulses from the successes of the previous strategy and respond to challenges. On the other hand, sub-strategies and goals of Strategy 2021 are derived from the university's mission statement and its vision.



The university is divided into the following eight faculties:

  • Faculty of Theology
  • Faculty of Law
  • The Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences
  • Medical school
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (Vetsuisse)
  • Faculty of Philosophy and History
  • Faculty of Philosophy and Human Sciences
  • Faculty of Philosophy and Natural Sciences

As part of a strategic alliance, the medical faculties of Bern and Basel work together in cardiac surgery , neurosurgery , pathology and microbiology . The veterinary medicine studies in Bern and Zurich were merged in 2006 in the joint Vetsuisse faculty. The University of Bern has 10 graduate schools, of which the Graduate School of the Arts was only launched in spring 2015 through the cooperation between the University of Bern and the Bern University of the Arts.

Universities-wide institutions

There are four university-wide institutions at the university:

  • Collegium generale (CG)
  • Forum for University and Society (FUG)
  • Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies (IZFG)
  • Center for University Continuing Education (ZUW)

The entire university institutions have the task of promoting the dialogue between the disciplines and faculties through interdisciplinary events for teachers and students. The Center for University Continuing Education (ZUW) focuses on further academic education . The ZUW supports the faculties and institutes in the planning and organization of further education programs. The choice of topics ranges from public administration to dentistry and pastoral care . In addition, there are its own courses of study such as evaluation , which Bern was the first university to offer in the German-speaking area.

Ice core of the OCCR for climate reconstruction, 2006

Research centers

The university has eleven research centers, competence centers and faculty centers:

  • Albert Einstein Center for Fundamental Physics (AEC)
  • ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research
  • Bern Center for Precision Medicine (BCPM)
  • Center for Development and Environment (CDE)
  • Center for Global Studies (CGS)
  • Center for Regional Economic Development (CRED)
  • Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)
  • Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)
  • Interdisciplinary Center for Gender Studies (IZFG)
  • Competence Center for Public Management (KPM)
  • Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
  • World Trade Institute (WTI)

The university has made a name for itself in various fields such as climate science, biomedicine and sustainability research. For these strategic areas, it has set up interdisciplinary competence centers that take into account the approach of interdisciplinary research and teaching. The competence centers also offer specialized Master’s degrees, such as the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research with the Biomedical Engineering course or the Competence Center for Public Management (KPM) with Public Management and Policy . The Center for Development and Environment (CDE) is committed to the long tradition of sustainability research in Bern. Until March 31, 2013, the CDE headed the National Research Center North-South , Switzerland's leading research program in the areas of global change and sustainable development. It concentrates on the specialist areas of regional development and the use of natural resources . The thematically related NCCR International Trade Regulation (international rules of world trade) is in turn located at the World Trade Institute (WTI) affiliated to the University of Bern. The WTI is one of the world's leading academic institutes that deals with the regulation of international trade with regard to legal, economic and political aspects. In addition, the University of Bern shares the NCCR PlanetS with the University of Geneva and the NCCR MUST and the NCCR RNA & Disease with the ETH Zurich .

Steel container for ESA's Rosetta mission, 2009

Degree programs and other specialist areas

As a full university, Bern is home to around 40 Bachelor and 70 Master’s degrees and covers the entire spectrum of classic fields of science. The University of Bern is an international leader in selected areas such as space research. The Physikalisches Institut took part in the first flight to the moon and is still regularly contributing experiments and equipment to NASA and ESA space missions . Dentistry, veterinary medicine and the university clinic, the renowned Inselspital, also enjoy worldwide recognition . In addition to these classic fields of study, the University of Bern is also known for young subjects such as sports science or theater studies . The theater studies course, which can be deepened in the master’s degree with a focus on dance studies, is still the only one of its kind in Switzerland. Bern is the only university in the world to offer a focus on Christian Catholic theology as part of its theology studies. The so-called graduate schools for doctoral students, which are closely linked to the successful research areas of the University of Bern, go even further than the master’s programs .

Study without Matura 30+

Admission procedure

This option is open to everyone from the age of 30; for Swiss and foreigners who have grown up here, an apprenticeship or a professional baccalaureate is sufficient; The first part of the admissions process is about checking that the general skills are in place. For this purpose, the following is examined: the ability to solve problems, in particular reasoning in the context of a language-independent cognitive test, the understanding and analysis of a German text and written expression in German. The prerequisite for the second part is passing the first part of the admission procedure.

Second part

The university entrance qualification for the selected course is checked here. This is done by checking the existence of basic subject-specific skills in order to determine whether the learning content can be recorded in the desired course. If this second round is also successful, the applicant will be accepted at the university. However, this excludes medical courses; the only exception here are the pharmaceutical sciences.



See also : Category University Lecturers (University of Bern)

The professors at the University of Bern played a pioneering role in some areas of science. So checked Anna Tumarkin from Russia as the first Professor of Europe doctoral students. The doctor Gabriel Gustav Valentin was the first Jewish professor to hold a chair at a German-speaking university. Theodor Oskar Rubeli was jointly responsible for founding the world's first veterinary medical faculty . Finally, the physicist Hans Oeschger did pioneering work in climate research with the analysis of ice cores .


Urs von Arx , Eduard Bähler , Fritz Barth , Angela Berlis , Hans Bietenhard , Fritz Buri , Rudolf Dellsperger , Walter Dietrich , Eduard Güder , Kurt Guggisberg , Wilhelm Hadorn , Eduard Herzog , Karl Bernhard Hundeshagen , Albert Immer , Christine Janowski , Ernst Friedrich Langhans , Ulrich Luz , Samuel Lutz , Ulrich Neuenschwander , Alfred de Quervain , Adolf Schlatter , Matthias Schneckenburger , Silvia Schroer , Kurt Stalder , Lukas Vischer , Adolf Thürings , Klaus Wegenast , Martin Werner , Eduard Zeller


Carl Hilty , Karl Ferdinand Theodor Hepp , Eugen Huber , Jörg Paul Müller , Walther Munzinger , Virgile Rossel , Carl Stooss


Marcel Henry Bickel , Luc Ciompi , Ulrich Frey , Hans Guggisberg , Jakob Klaesi , Emil Theodor Kocher , Hugo Kronecker , Theodor Langhans , Ludwig Lichtheim , Maurice Edmond Müller , Marco Mumenthaler , Alexander von Muralt , Fritz de Quervain , Harald Reuter , Ettore Rossi , Hermann Sahli , Gabriel Gustav Valentin , Ewald Weibel


Andreas Alföldi , Heinrich Baumgartner , Josef Deér , Arnold Esch , Olof Gigon , Otto von Greyerz , Georges Grosjean , Erich Gruner , Karl Hagen , Walter Henzen , Walther Hofer , Max Huggler , Hans Jucker , Ricarda Liver , Christian Pfister , Gonzague de Reynold , Willy Theiler , Édouard Tièche , Ignaz Paul Vitalis Troxler , Anna Tumarkin , Urs Martin Zahnd , Paul Zinsli

natural Science

Fritz Baltzer , Johann Duerst , Albert Einstein , Eduard Fischer , Ludwig Fischer , Aimé Forster , Heinrich Greinacher , Hugo Hadwiger , Volkmar Kohlschütter , Bruno Messerli , Manfred Milinski , Hans Oeschger , Ludwig Schläfli , Bernhard Studer , Theophil Studer , Heinrich von Wild , Hugo von Mohl , Gertrud Woker


Alfred Amonn , Hansruedi Müller , Norbert Thom , Max Weber


Theodor Oskar Rubeli


Scientists / PostDocs

  • Paul Nurse - Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine 2001

Honorary doctorates

In the course of its history, the University of Bern has honored outstanding personalities from different areas of society with honorary doctorates (theology, medicine). Below is a selection:


Georg von Békésy , Iván Böszörményi-Nagy , Willy Burgdorfer , Emanuel Eduard Fueter , Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin , Heinrich Hunziker , Stephen W. Kuffler , William Küster , George Emil Palade , Luc Pettavino , César Roux , David Sackett , Sir Edward Albert Sharpey- Schafer , Sir Charles Scott Sherrington

natural Science

Felix Amiet , Hermann Blaschko , Johann Büttikofer , Richard R. Ernst , Hans von Euler-Chelpin , Franz Joseph Hugi , Peter Jenni , Gerold Schwarzenbach , Norbert Straumann , Hans A. Traber


Ernst Karl Abbe , Walter Boveri , Jean-Daniel Gerber , Karl August Lingner , Auguste and Louis Lumière , Willy Michel , Thomas J. Sargent , Arthur Stoll , Georg Wander


Albert Samuel Gatschet , Karl Schib , Erwin Heinz Ackerknecht , Milan Machovec , Winfried Hacker , Jan Hendrik Waszink , Martin Bodmer , Georges Dumézil , Émile Benveniste , Rolf Liebermann , Jeffrey F. Hamburger , Nigel F. Palmer


Cuno Amiet , Albert Anker , Alberto Giacometti , Ilja Kabakow , Walter Linsenmaier , Rudolf Münger , Joseph Simon Volmar


Ruth Bietenhard , Emanuel Friedli , René Gardi , Simon Gfeller , Marthe Gosteli , Eveline Hasler , Stefan Heym , Arnold Hottinger , John le Carré , Kurt Marti , Elisabeth Müller , Charles Ferdinand Ramuz , John Edgar Wideman


Prince Albert II , Charles Albert Gobat , Annemarie Huber-Hotz , Konrad Ilg , Emil Lohner , Angela Merkel , Rudolf Minger , Albert Oeri , Adolf Ogi


Paul Berger , Hannah M. Cotton , Heino Falcke , Eduard Herzog , Rudolf Strahm


Arthur Bill , Eduard Franck , Alban Gerster , Daniel Glaus , Åke Hammarskjöld , Hansruedi Hasler , Theo Hirsbrunner , Beat P. Kneubuehl , Hermann Müller-Thurgau , Heidi Tagliavini , Mathis Wackernagel


Today, the University of Bern is one of the 150 best universities in the world. It ranks 123rd in the QS World University Rankings 2020. It shares 101st to 150th place with other universities worldwide in the Shanghai Ranking 2019. In the Leiden Ranking 2019 it ranks 181st worldwide. In the Times Higher Education Ranking 2020, the University of Bern ranks 113th.

University groups

The students of the University of Bern have been part of the student body of the University of Bern (SUB), a public corporation , since 1925 . In addition, there are various student groups at the University of Bern, ranging from classic student associations to social and regional associations to religious or cultural groups.


  • Minta, Anna (Hrsg.) / Nicolai, Bernd (Hrsg.) / Thome, Markus (Hrsg.) City University of Bern - 175 years of buildings and works of art. Haupt Verlag, Bern 2009. ISBN 978-3-258-07406-1 .
  • Ulrich Im Hof et al. (Ed.): University history of Bern 1528–1984. For the 150th anniversary of the University of Bern in 1984. University of Bern, Bern 1984.
  • Ulrich Im Hof ​​et al. (Hrsg.): The lecturers of the Bern University. Supplementary volume to: University history of Bern 1528–1984. University of Bern, Bern 1984.
  • Franziska Rogger: The University of Bern and its history (s). In: UniPress. No. 139, December 2008, pp. 12-31.
  • Franziska Rogger, Monika Bankowski: All of Europe is looking at us! Swiss women's studies and its Russian pioneers. Hier + now Verlag für Kultur und Geschichte GmbH, Baden 2010. ISBN 978-3-03919-146-8 .
  • Institute for Theater Studies (ITW), Bern BE . In: Andreas Kotte (Ed.): Theater Lexikon der Schweiz . Volume 2, Chronos, Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-0340-0715-9 , p. 905 f.

See also

Web links

Commons : University of Bern  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Rektorat Leumann ,, accessed on August 18, 2020.
  2. Statistics Uni Bern , accessed on August 18, 2020.
  3. ^ List of IAU Members. In: International Association of Universities, accessed August 18, 2019 .
  4. ^ Members. In: swissuniversities, 2019, accessed on August 31, 2019 .
  5. Barbara Kunz, Stéphane Cappelli: Students at the Universities 2007/08 . In: Federal Statistical Office (Ed.): Statistics of Switzerland . Neuchâtel 2008, ISBN 978-3-303-15458-8 , p. 11 ( Students at universities in 2007/08 ( memento from June 24, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF; accessed on March 14, 2009] 1.3 MB).
  6. With the Strategy 2021 into the future. Accessed on May 8, 2019.
  7. [1] Retrieved May 8, 2019
  8. [2] Retrieved on August 18, 2020
  9. [3] Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  10. a b c [4] Retrieved on August 18, 2020.
  11. Capital region Switzerland: vision, goals, implementation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.
  12. Definition of metropolitan areas according to the FSO ( Memento of April 8, 2011 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved on March 25, 2011.
  13. Key objectives for the spatial development of the University of Bern.Retrieved on March 25, 2011.
  14. [5] , Unipress. Retrieved August 15, 2014
  15. With the Strategy 2021 into the future ( Memento from September 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). Accessed on May 6, 2015.
  16. [6] Retrieved May 29, 2017
  17. A Doctor for the Arts ( Memento from May 18, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  18. ZUW website ( Memento of 16 August 2013, Internet Archive ) Retrieved on August 9, 2013.
  19. Overview of NASA's international cooperation (PDF; 11.1 MB) Retrieved on December 4, 2015.
  20. project site ROSINA / ROSETTA at ESA Accessed on May 9, 2011th
  21. Admission procedure 30+ Unibe homepage . Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  22. ^ Charles Albert Gobat - Biographical, The Nobel Peace Prize 1902.Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  23. NASA. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  24. Sir Paul Nurse - Biographical, The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001.Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  25. Database of honorary doctorates.Retrieved on February 21, 2011.
  26. Honorary doctorates from the Faculty of Theology. Accessed January 24, 2013.
  27. Honorary doctorates from the Medical Faculty ( Memento from August 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved on February 21, 2011.
  28. Diesacaemdicus 2009 of December 5, 2009
  33. Student body of the University of Bern (SUB): History of the SUB. Retrieved September 30, 2019 .

Coordinates: 46 ° 57 '1.9 "  N , 7 ° 26' 17.2"  E ; CH1903:  five hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred sixty  /  199937