Bielefeld University

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Bielefeld University
founding 1969
Sponsorship State of North Rhine-Westphalia (state)
place Bielefeld
state North Rhine-Westphalia
country Germany
Rector Gerhard Sagerer
Students 24,875 (WS 2017/18)
Employee 2700 (2017)
including professors
283 (2017)
Networks DFH
Aerial view of Bielefeld University

The University of Bielefeld is a Founded in 1969, German Campus - University in North Rhine-Westphalia and the largest research institution in the region of East Westphalia-Lippe . According to the international Times Higher Education Ranking 2020, Bielefeld University ranks 166th among the world's best universities.


With over 24,000 students (in the 2017/18 winter semester ), Bielefeld University is the largest of the six Bielefeld universities . It ranks second among the state universities in Westphalia in terms of funds from the German Research Foundation per professor. In the 2019 international THE ranking, Bielefeld University was ranked 166th out of 1,400 universities worldwide. It was also among the top 20 young universities worldwide. In September 2005, the University of Bielefeld was ranked 10th out of a total of 86 in the Focus magazine . It took first place in the fields of education and sociology.

Since the university is one of the few universities that unites almost all faculties under one roof, it is known as the “university of short distances”.

Panorama of the north side of Bielefeld University with the transition bridge to the tram


Bielefeld University is located on the slope of the Teutoburg Forest .

The founding committee for a university in East Westphalia was set up at the end of 1965. The university was conceived by the sociologist Helmut Schelsky and founded in 1969 as a so-called “ reform university ”, with interdisciplinary work being a declared goal. This can already be seen in the architecture, in which the central hall also spatially connects all faculties with one another. Teaching began in November 1969 with three faculties - mathematics, law, and sociology.

Newly constructed buildings on Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse (near Bültmannshof) were initially available for university operations and were then used by the University of Applied Sciences . Additional rooms had to be rented at various locations in the city.

With regard to the final construction planning, in a building competition in May 1969 and a subsequent revision phase of the selected works in the summer of 1970, the design by the young Berlin architects Helmut Herzog, Klaus Köpke, Peter Kulka, Wolf Siepmann and Katte Töpper prevailed, which in the eyes of the decision-makers Best implemented the conceptual specifications (interdisciplinary cooperation / interdisciplinarity, functionality, flexibility and expandability) of the university, city and country. After four years of construction, the entire building was handed over to its destination in September 1976 with the last construction phase. It is characterized by the concentrated combination of all faculties and facilities in a structural continuum along a central, glass-roofed hall. The two-storey hall, which was awarded the BDA Prize for North Rhine-Westphalia in 1979 in the area of ​​“social communication”, is the main access route and central communication axis, forum and marketplace of the university. The main building, initially planned for a maximum of 10,000 students and later used by more than 20,000 students, which has repeatedly met with criticism due to its size, its "aesthetic minimalism ", its sober functionality and its intellectual affinity to modern industrial buildings, converts approx Million m³ of space and has a net floor space of approx. 140,000 m² on a built-up area of ​​approx. 62,000 m².

As one of the first universities in Germany, Bielefeld University switched the majority of its courses, including teacher training, to the bachelor 's and master' s system from the 2002/2003 winter semester . As part of an excellence initiative , the university received funding for the establishment of a cluster of excellence for human-machine communication with the title “Cognitive Interaction Technology” and a graduate school, the “Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology”.

Even before a legal regulation for North Rhine-Westphalia was introduced, a comprehensive smoking ban was introduced in the rooms of the university on May 1, 2007 .

Every semester on the first Wednesday of the lecture period, until the renovation of the university building, the university's largest student party with over 10,000 guests took place in the west end of the central university hall. It was organized by students from the student councils for economics (Wiwi).

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary in 2019, the new corporate design was also presented as part of the celebrations. Along with this, a new logo was also developed, which symbolically expresses the role of Bielefeld University in the modern research landscape. Within the already well advanced state of knowledge of today's society, Bielefeld University has set itself the task of researching the last as yet unknown findings. The missing corner of a black square symbolizes this view.


Building X

Extensive construction and renovation measures with an investment volume of more than one billion euros took place. Building X - a replacement building for the sociology and history departments with a library and a new central cafeteria - was completed in autumn 2013. The lecture halls have been in use since October 2013. The specialist libraries began operations at the end of May 2014, followed by the relocation of the faculties. The student union started the cafeteria on July 21, 2014.

The “North Campus”, in which the “Interactive Intelligent Systems” research building and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences are located, was opened in 2015.

After the commissioning of building X, the complete renovation of the main university building began in summer 2014. A timeframe of 13 years was initially planned for this, but it will not be possible to keep this; a construction period of 27 years is currently expected. The first construction phase alone (of six sections) around the Auditorium Maximum and the old location of the cafeteria is expected to take 5 years longer than initially planned. The estimated construction costs also increased significantly, from originally 658 million euros to 1.17 billion euros (as of 2019).

The central hall is to be retained as a communication center and access to the lecture halls, library, etc. The facade and main entrance will be redesigned, the individual parts of the building will be gutted, and building technology and energy supply will be completely renewed. The building is currently considered to be contaminated with PCBs , but there is no risk, and regular inspections are carried out. The Wellensiek tram station has already been expanded to make the new buildings accessible to traffic .

"Building Z" was officially inaugurated in 2018 and has been used by the Faculty of Education ever since . There are 120 office rooms available in the building. A building extension has been in progress since February 2020.

"Building Y", which is currently under construction, is to serve as an additional teaching area (large lecture hall with 650 seats and three seminar rooms). The building primarily serves as a replacement for the Audimax (previously the largest lecture hall at Bielefeld University), as it is no longer available due to the modernization measures (since the beginning of 2020).


main building
Central hall in the main building (2004)
University as seen from the southwest, greenhouses of the Faculty of Biology in the foreground.
Seal of the University of Bielefeld
Faculty of Chemistry

In 2012, the Bielefeld chemist Achim Müller received the “Advanced Grants” from the European Research Council, one of the world's most important research awards for his work in the field of artificially generated wheel-shaped giant molecules.

Faculty of Education

The experimental schools, upper level college and laboratory school founded by Hartmut von Hentig , are connected to the Faculty of Education .

Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology

The History in Bielefeld also has an international reputation, not least by those of Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Kocka co-founded " Bielefeld School " of social history . Also here is Reinhart Koselleck to name, who was among the most famous historians of postwar Germany.

With a focus on analytical philosophy and well-known lecturers (such as Beckermann , von Savigny , Bittner , Carrier and Wolff ), the philosophical department is one of the most important in Germany.

Faculty of Health Sciences

The first independent faculty for health sciences in Germany, founded in 1994, is based on the model of American “professional schools”. She strives for an interdisciplinary way of working and puts emphasis on basic research that can be used professionally. The Bielefeld School of Public Health is one of the largest research institutions in this field in Germany. The members of the faculty are active in numerous committees and commissions at federal level. She represents u. a. with Wolfgang Greiner a member of the Expert Council for the assessment of developments in the health care system.

Faculty of Mathematics

Bernd Fischer , Friedhelm Waldhausen and Rudolf Ahlswede, three of the world's most outstanding representatives of their specialty disciplines (group theory, algebraic topology and information theory) worked at the mathematics faculty . Reinhard Selten worked at the Institute for Mathematical Economic Research and used the interdisciplinary orientation to work with biologists and mathematicians in order to advance his game theory work. In 1994 Selten received the Nobel Prize in Economics. Leibniz Prize winner Thomas Zink also works at the Faculty of Mathematics .

Faculty of Economics

In addition to business-based working groups, the Faculty of Economics also includes the Center for Statistics and the Bielefeld Graduate School of Economics and Management (BiGSEM).

Faculty of Sociology

The first and so far only faculty for sociology in Germany has existed at the university since 1969. It is a unique institution in the German university landscape, because at no other university does sociology have the institutional autonomy of a faculty . The Bielefeld Faculty of Sociology is one of the largest scientific institutions in the field in Europe.

Technical Faculty

In addition, the technical faculty should be mentioned, which is characterized, for example, by the working group “knowledge-based systems” led by Ipke Wachsmuth or the neuroinformatics group led by Helge Ritter , which received the 2001 Leibniz Prize , among other things . The CoR-Lab (Cognition and Robotics), founded in 2007, was not only the first university research facility in Europe to receive two ASIMO robots from the Honda company , but also supports young scientists with a graduate school in the field of Cognition and Robotics.

Discontinued subjects

In recent years, the courses in Catholic theology, Romance studies, Eastern European studies and geography have been closed in order to concentrate on subjects with strong third-party funding.

List of all faculties

There are 14 faculties:

Central scientific institutions

Other central facilities


Library X

The university library is located on the entire first floor of the main university building (distributed over all wings of the building) and in building X. It has an above-average inventory of well over 2.1 million books.

In 2008, asbestos was found in several building complexes. After a renovation and numerous indoor air samples, the libraries were released again and restrictions on opening times were lifted.

Center for Aesthetics

The Center for Aesthetics (previously Aesthetic Center) has existed at the university since July 2003. It forms a common institutional framework for the diverse artistic and cultural activities of the university. On the one hand it is a service center for the management of individual tasks and projects, on the other hand it is a forum in which the aesthetic commitment and the cultural identity of the university are conceptually considered and further developed.

Other central facilities

The university has a number of other small central institutions, including:

  • Hertz 87.9 , its own radio station, which broadcasts around the clock and can be received in large parts of the city
  • an international meeting center (IBZ), which provides accommodation for visiting scholars
  • a company daycare center for the children of university employees

Scientific journals


Collaborative Research Centers

At the university there are and were several Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) funded by the German Research Foundation , i.e. long-term research projects in which scientists from several working groups and disciplines work together to gain new knowledge on a specific topic:

SFB 177 Social history of the modern middle class (1986–1997)
Speaker: Peter Lundgreen
Involved: Faculty of History and Philosophy
SFB 216 Polarization and Correlation in Atomic Collision Complexes (1983–1997)
Speaker: Wilhelm Raith
Involved: Faculty of Physics
Faculty of Chemistry
Faculty of Physics at the University of Münster
SFB 223 Pathomechanisms of Cellular Interactions (1985–1996)
Involved: Faculty of Biology
Faculty of Chemistry
SFB 343 Discrete Structures in Mathematics (1989–2000)
Speaker: Claus Michael Ringel
Involved: Faculty of Mathematics
SFB 360 Located Artificial Communicators (1993-2005)
Speaker: Gert Rickheit
Involved: Technical Faculty
Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies
SFB 584 The Political as a Communication Space in History (2001–2012)
Speaker: Willibald Steinmetz
Involved: Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology
Faculty of Sociology
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies
SFB 613 Physics of single molecule processes and molecular recognition in organic systems (since 2002)
Speaker: Dario Anselmetti
Involved: Faculty of Physics
Faculty of Chemistry
Faculty of Biology
SFB 673 Alignment in Communication (2006-2015)
Speaker: Ipke Wachsmuth
Involved: Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies
Technical Faculty
SFB 701 Spectral structures and topological methods in mathematics (2005–2017)
Speaker: Friedrich Gotze
Involved: Faculty of Mathematics
SFB 882 From heterogeneities to inequalities (2011-2016)
Speaker: Martin Diewald
Involved: Faculty of Sociology
SFB 1283 Taming uncertainty and profiting from randomness and low regularity in analysis, stochastics and their applications (since 2017)
Speaker: Michael Röckner
Involved: Faculty of Mathematics
Faculty of Physics
Technical Faculty
SFB 1288 Practices of Comparing. Order and change the world (since 2017)
Speaker: Angelika Epple
Involved: Faculty of History and Philosophy
Faculty of Linguistics and Literature Studies
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Sociology

The university is also involved in a further special research area:

SFB 686 Model-based control of the homogenized low-temperature combustion (2006-2015)
Leadership: Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen
Involved: Faculty of Chemistry, Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus



Term of office Surname Department / Faculty
1969-1970 Ernst-Joachim Mestmäcker Jurisprudence
1970-1992 Karl Peter Grotemeyer mathematics
1992-1996 Helmut Skowronek Psychology and Sports Science
1996-2001 Gert Rickheit Linguistics and literary studies
2001-2009 Dieter Timmermann pedagogy
since 2009 Gerhard Sagerer Computer science

Leibniz Prize Winner

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is the most valuable scientific award in the world and has been awarded annually since 1985 by the German Research Foundation to scientists working in Germany. A total of eight scientists from Bielefeld University were awarded this prize:

year Surname Research area annotation
1992 Thomas Zink mathematics together with
Christopher Deninger ( University of Münster )
Michael Rapoport ( University of Wuppertal )
Peter Schneider ( University of Cologne )
1994 Adrienne Héritier , Helmut Willke Sociology / Political Science
1998 Ute Frevert Recent history
2000 Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff Public law
2001 Helge Ritter Neuroinformatics
2007 Bernhard Jussen Medieval story
2008 Martin Carrier Philosophy of science

Honorary senators

  • 1983 Eberhard Freiherr von Medem (1913–1993), retired ministerial director D. in the Ministry of Culture, member of the founding committee of the university
  • 1983 Ernst-Joachim Mestmäcker (* 1926), legal scholar, member of the founding committee of the university and founding rector
  • 1983 Paul Mikat (1924–2011), legal scholar, Minister of Education in North Rhine-Westphalia and chairman of the founding committee of the university
  • 1983 Helmut Schelsky (1912–1984), sociologist, university “planner” and member of the university's founding committee
  • 1989 Eberhard Firnhaber (* 1927), member of the founding committee and chancellor of the university
  • 1989 Hartmut von Hentig (* 1925), educator and journalist
  • 1989 Reinhart Koselleck (1923–2006), historian and member of the founding committee of the university
  • 1989 Werner Maihofer (1918–2009), legal scholar, politician and Federal Minister
  • 1992 Karl Peter Grotemeyer (1927–2007), mathematician, rector of the university
  • 1994 Dietrich Storbeck (1927–1997), sociologist
  • 1994 Erich Christian Schröder (1925–2013), philosopher
  • 1996 Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998), sociologist
  • 1998 Johannes Rau (1931–2006), Science Minister and Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal President
  • 2004 Hans-Ulrich Wehler (1931–2014), historian
  • 2009 Franz-Xaver Kaufmann (* 1932), sociologist
  • 2017 Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus (* 1951), chemist

Honorary doctorates

Honorary citizen

  • 1985 Ernst Graumann (1913–1991), district president of the Detmold administrative district and chairman of the Westphalian-Lippian University Society
  • 1985 Herbert Hinnendahl (1914–1993), Lord Mayor of Bielefeld and Chairman of the Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft
  • 1985 Heinz-Robert Kuhn (1909–1998), City Director of the City of Bielefeld
  • 1996 Harro Heim (1919–2016), Director of the Bielefeld University Library
  • 1996 Gerd Seidensticker (1931–2017), head of the Seidensticker company and chairman of the Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft
  • 2000 Karen Leffers (* 1935), co-founder and honorary chairwoman of the Association for the Promotion of Foreign Students in Bielefeld , member of the board of trustees of the Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft
  • 2000 Walter Stich (1930–2020), District President of the Detmold District and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft
  • 2005 Helmut Steiner (* 1928), executive board member and treasurer of the Westfälisch-Lippische Universitätsgesellschaft, lecturer and honorary professor at Bielefeld University
  • 2017 Ortwin Goldbeck (* 1939), Chairman of the Westphalian-Lippian University Society

Medal of Honor

Badge of honor

  • 2017 Johanna Soufi , Chairwoman of the Staff Council at Bielefeld University

Traditions and events

Finnbahn meeting

Since 1982, on the last Wednesday in May, a relay race has been held annually by members of the university facilities on a specially designed Finnbahn . In this competition, organized as part of the sports science teaching program, around 35 teams of ten compete against each other over a distance of 10 km.

Night of sounds

Every year in June the Night of Sounds has been taking place since 2004, during which musical groups of all kinds appear throughout the entire university building (from the swimming pool to the cafeteria, from the basement to the 10th floor). Around 500 participants offer their arts to 10,000 visitors.

Lecture hall slam

The Bielefeld Lecture Hall Slam takes place around the middle of each semester. For this event in the field of slam poetry , eight nationally active and well-known artists regularly attract up to 1,300 guests to the AudiMax . The organization and financing of the lecture hall slam is shared by the Aesthetic Center and Campus TV , as well as the students of the umbrella student council (united student councils) of the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies.

Tuition fees 2006–2011

On the basis of the Law to Ensure Financing Equity in Higher Education (HFGG), the Tuition Fee Act, of March 16, 2006, the Senate of Bielefeld University passed a tuition fee statute for the first time in its meeting on July 12, 2006, in which the tuition fees according to the length of the completed studies were staggered. However, according to a ruling by the Minden Administrative Court on June 1, 2007, the different amount of tuition fees violated the principle of equality set out in Article 3 of the Basic Law. Therefore, on July 4, 2007, a new transitional tuition fee statute (July 10, 2007) was passed. Thereafter, tuition fees of 350 euros were generally levied for all students from the 2007/08 winter semester up to and including the 2009 summer semester. In the meeting on February 4, 2009, the University Senate confirmed the amount of the tuition fees of 350 euros, so that from the winter semester 09/10 this regulation was valid for an unlimited period. On February 24, 2011, the NRW state parliament decided to abolish tuition fees and replace them with appropriate state funds for the universities with the votes of the SPD, the Greens and the Left . No tuition fees have been charged since the 2011/2012 winter semester.

When tuition fees were to be introduced at the university in the 2006/07 winter semester, numerous students protested and occupied the rectorate and the university hall for a month each. Numerous groups and private individuals, for example Konstantin Wecker , then showed their solidarity with the protesting students. Furthermore, there were large protests such as the traveling exhibition that started at the University of Paderborn and was now forwarded to Münster via Bielefeld . The occupation was also controversial among the students: although many students shared the occupiers' negative attitude towards tuition fees, they doubted the effectiveness of the occupation in view of the university structures. In a strike vote carried out by the AStA and the StuPa , approx. 94 percent of those who voted voted against the introduction of tuition fees at Bielefeld University, thus giving the responsible students support at a political level. The turnout was 22.4 percent. This is around 10 percentage points more than in the annual student parliament elections.

In July 2006, students stormed the Senate meeting to formally approve the tuition fees, and a general key to the main university building was stolen from an employee of the security service. The students should be prevented by several "rings" of the security service from attending the public session. In the weeks after the Senate meeting, toilets in the university building and the private car of Rector Dieter Timmermann were damaged by fire several times, and the offices and facades of the private apartments of professors smeared with feces - the police also investigated one of the others University Prodiac Security Officer. The theft of the master key resulted in costs of several hundred thousand euros, as some of the locking system had to be replaced.

Transport links

Tram stop "Universität" with parking garage at night

The university can be reached from the city center with line 4 of the tram :

Lohmannshof - University - Central Station - Jahnplatz - Town Hall.

The city ​​bus route 31 serves the districts of Gellershagen and Schildesche . In Babenhausen Süd (Stadtbahn) there are connections in the direction of Jöllenbeck , Enger and Spenge . The regional bus routes 21 and 62 run to Werther and Borgholzhausen on Wertherstrasse (a short walk) . There is also a connection to the night and early morning network with the N1 night bus (on Sundays until 8.30 a.m.).

See also


  • Intermediate station: Bielefeld University 1979. Pfeffer, Bielefeld 1979.
  • The humane university. Bielefeld 1969–1992 : Festschrift for Karl-Peter Grotemeyer. Edited by Andreas Dress, Eberhard Firnhaber, Hartmut von Hentig , Dietrich Storbeck. Westfalen-Verlag, Bielefeld 1992.
  • Bielefeld Reform University: 1969–1994. Between defensive and innovation . Edited by Peter Lundgreen . Publishing house for regional history, Bielefeld 1994.
  • Martin Löning, Gerhard Trott: The University of Bielefeld. A story in pictures . Sutton, Erfurt 2003, ISBN 3-89702-628-7 .
  • Veit Mette: Bielefeld University. Level 0. (German-English = Level 0) / ed. by Ulrike Davy and Heike Piehler. With an introduction by Walter Kellein. Kerber, Bielefeld / Leipzig 2007.
  • Moritz Mälzer: Looking for the new university. The emergence of the “reform universities” in Konstanz and Bielefeld in the 1960s . Göttingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-525-36852-7 .

Web links

Commons : Bielefeld University  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Rector of the University. Retrieved April 16, 2020 .
  2. a b c Figures-Data-Facts of the University. Retrieved April 16, 2020 .
  3. Network. List of universities in the DFH network. In: Franco-German University, accessed on October 7, 2019 .
  4. ^ The Times Higher Education Rankings
  5. Jelena Brankovic: Rankings can be so crazy. , March 11, 2020, accessed on March 11, 2020 .
  6. ^ Bielefeld University. February 4, 2020, accessed on March 3, 2020 .
  7. Bielefeld party people celebrate the last Westend party. Neue Westfälische, accessed on October 16, 2015 .
  8. New corporate design started. In: 50 years of Bielefeld University. May 2, 2019, accessed January 10, 2020 .
  9. ^ Campus Bielefeld 2025
  10. Construction information: The cafeteria is moving. Retrieved May 12, 2017 .
  11. UB Bielefeld Blog: Specialized libraries in Building X opened on May 28th
  12. uni.aktuell: Replacement new building is named "Building X"
  13. Press release of the State Audit Office of North Rhine-Westphalia from September 3, 2019 (PDF) Retrieved September 5, 2019 .
  14. uni.aktuell: mammoth task: modernizing Bielefeld University. Retrieved April 4, 2018 .
  15. ^ Building Z. Accessed April 16, 2020 .
  16. ^ Building Y. Accessed April 2, 2020 .
  17. ^ Press release from Bielefeld University of October 17, 2012 , accessed on October 19, 2012.
  20. PhD | Faculty of Economics | Home page. Retrieved September 23, 2019 .
  21. ^ Center for Statistics. Retrieved September 23, 2019 .
  23. ^ Faculties of Bielefeld University. Retrieved April 16, 2020 .
  31. Information pages of Bielefeld University on the asbestos findings from March 2008
  32. uni.aktuell: Five out of eight branch libraries are returning to regular operations ( Memento from October 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  33. uni.aktuell: Library in parts U and V also released ( Memento from October 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  34. - Information on the SFB 216
  35. - Information on the SFB 343
  36. - Information on the SFB 360
  37. Information on the SFB 584
  38. Information on the SFB 613
  39. Information on the SFB 673
  40. Information on the SFB 701
  41. Information on the SFB 882
  42. Information on the SFB 1283
  43. Information on the SFB 1288
  44. ^ Statistical yearbook of Bielefeld University 2006, editorial deadline: June 20, 2006
  45. Information on the SFB 686
  46. ^ Professor Gerhard Sagerer takes office as rector. In: uni.aktuell. Bielefeld University, October 1, 2009, accessed on October 2, 2009 .
  47. ^ Honorary senators of Bielefeld University. Retrieved January 14, 2020 .
  48. ^ Honorary doctorates from Bielefeld University. Retrieved January 14, 2020 .
  49. ^ Honorary citizen of Bielefeld University. Retrieved January 14, 2020 .
  50. Board of the Association for the Promotion of Foreign Students
  51. ^ Medal of Honor from Bielefeld University. Retrieved January 15, 2020 .
  52. ^ Badge of Honor from Bielefeld University. Retrieved January 15, 2020 .
  53. Master key going astray: cow dung distributed in the professors' office , accessed on January 24, 2014.

Coordinates: 52 ° 2 ′ 16 ″  N , 8 ° 29 ′ 35 ″  E