University of Tartu

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Tartu Ülikool
University of Tartu
founding 1632
Sponsorship state
place Tartu
country Estonia
Rector Toomas Asser
Students 16,025 (2013)
Employee 3,739 (2013)
including professors 180 (2013)
Networks Coimbra group

The University of Tartu ( Estonian Tartu Ülikool ; German formerly University of Dorpat ) is the oldest university in Estonia and its only full university . It was founded in 1632 under King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in Tartu (then Dorpat ).

Name and language

main building

The university was founded under the name Academia Gustaviana (1632–1665) under King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden . From 1690 to 1710 it was also known under the name Academia Gustavo-Carolina before teaching fell asleep. As was common in the 17th century, the language of instruction was primarily Latin.

After it was re-established in 1802, it was called the Imperial University of Dorpat (with reference to the Russian Tsar) until 1893 ( Imperatorskij Derptskij Universitet) and was (besides Latin) a largely German-speaking university in one of the largely autonomous Russian Baltic Governments . The university mainly trained the German Baltic and Russian-German middle classes, with an increasing number of Estonians studying German at it. A large part of the teaching staff and students were German-speaking and there was a lively exchange of ideas and personnel with Central Europe. Until 1918 the city was called "Dorpat", so that the university was known throughout Europe under the name Universität Dorpat . Both the historical name Dorpat and the current name Tartu have the same Estonian word origin in a fortress called Tarbatu . Dorpat is also the historical name in other regionally significant languages ​​such as Swedish and Polish. In Russian, the Low German variant of the place name Derpt was also used for the university .

In the course of the state enforced Russification of the Baltic Sea Governments , Russian was introduced as the teaching language in 1893 and the institution was called Imperial University Jurjew (Imperatorskij Jur'evskij Universitet) from 1893 to 1918 ; because "Jurjew" was the official Russian name of Tartu from 1893 to 1918 - but this did not catch on in everyday life.

After gaining independence from Russia in 1918/19, it was called the University of the Estonian Republic of Tartu ( Eesti Vabariigi Tartu Ülikool ) until 1940 . In the war years 1940/1941 and from 1944 to 1989, under Soviet rule , it was called the State University of Tartu ( Tartu Riiklik Ülikool ) . Since regaining independence , it has been called the University of Tartu ( Tartu Ülikool ) . Since 1918 the language of instruction has been mainly Estonian, partly also Russian and more recently partly English. The University of Tartu is the first, largest and oldest Estonian-speaking university.



When Livonia was under Polish rule from 1583 to 1601 , there was a Jesuit grammar school in Dorpat . The university was founded as Academia Gustaviana in 1632 by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden as part of the Swedish colonial policy . Livonia, and with it the city of Dorpat , had just been conquered by Sweden. The Academia Gustaviana Dorpatensis was the second oldest university in what was then Swedish rule after the University of Uppsala (1477) and became the third oldest when the University of Greifswald came to Swedish Pomerania (1456).

The then university in Dorpat only existed for a relatively short time and was later moved to Pernau . In 1710, operations ceased entirely after Livonia came under Russian rule in the Great Northern War .


The University in its Golden Age (1860)
The Dorpat observatory was opened in 1810. Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve worked here.

The present state of Estonia was at that time a part of the Russian tsarist empire, although the Estonian and / or German-speaking residents continued to maintain their way of life and customs. On the initiative of Livonian knighthood in 1802 in the Governorate of Livonia the university as Imperial University of Tartu by the reform-minded Tsar Alexander I re-established. The first curator of the university was the German poet Friedrich Maximilian Klinger , who was in Russian service, and the founding rector was the doctor Georg Friedrich Parrot .

The University of Dorpat was a German-speaking university between 1802 and 1893 - administratively Russian, intellectually and with regard to the teaching staff a German university. Dorpat was around 1875, measured by the number of students, the eleventh largest of the 30 German-speaking universities (23 of which were in the German Empire ). Over 50% of the professors were "Reichsdeutsche", another 40% were Baltic Germans . In teaching, the university not only trained the entire Baltic nobility ( there was no other university in the governorates of Estonia and Courland ) and the educated bourgeoisie , but also - and from the point of view of the state above all - civil servants and doctors for the entire Russian Empire. Scientifically, the University of Dorpat, which experienced its "golden age" between 1860 and 1880 (including Alfred Wilhelm Volkmann , Gustav Teichmüller , Wilhelm Ostwald and Karl Ernst von Baer ), was internationally respected. Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald , the author of the Estonian national epic Kalevipoeg , studied medicine there from 1826.

Signs of the close ties between the university and Germany still visible today are important university buildings from the 19th century. Between 1804 and 1809, the main university building was built according to the plans of the university architect Johann Wilhelm Krause (born in Lower Silesia in 1757, died in Dorpat in 1828) The auditorium was created by the master craftsman Christian Holz from Greifswald , and the Dorpat observatory was built in 1811 . Under the leadership of the important astronomers Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve and Johann Heinrich Mädler , it became one of the leading astronomical research institutions. The botanical garden, one of the oldest of its kind in Eastern Europe, was founded by Gottfried Albrecht Germann in 1803 and moved to its current location in 1806. The Anatomicum (Tartu) (1805, planning by Krause) was the model for many other corresponding buildings in Europe and was used for medical training until the end of the 1990s.

This freedom ended when nationalistic and nation-state tendencies began to dominate in Russia and the homogeneity of education in Russia was considered more important than maintaining a German-speaking university on an international level. Between 1882 and 1893 there was a Russification, which included an obligation to teach exclusively in Russian; the theological faculty was allowed to teach in German until 1916 because the Russian Orthodox Church wanted to prevent the spread of Lutheran ideas in Russia. The theological faculty had a traditional Lutheran orientation and taught among others Theodosius Harnack , the father of Adolf von Harnack , who was born in Dorpat. As part of the general Russification in the Tsarist Empire, the city and the university were renamed "Jurjew" in 1893. The majority of the German-speaking staff, professors and students left the university.

From the end of the 19th century the university played an increasing role in the academic education of Black Sea and Volga Germans . The most famous alumni were Prof. Dr. Friedrich Knauer, Prof. Dr. Nikolai Käfer, the pastors Immanuel Winkler , Heinrich Roemmich and Johannes Schleuning . The growing number of studying "colonist sons" led to the establishment of an independent corporation "Teutonia" in 1908, which existed with interruptions until the end of 1918.

The university existed as the Russian-speaking University of Yuryev until the end of the First World War . Before German troops occupied Tartu in 1918, part of the university was evacuated to Voronezh , especially the university collections, but also some employees and students. 39 professors, 45 university teachers, 43 other employees and around 800 students from Tartu - mostly Russians - formed the basis of the newly founded Voronezh State University . In Tartu itself, the university was reopened as the Dorpat State University for part of the winter semester 1918/19 under German occupation .


festival at Emajõgi

In 1919 the university in the newly formed Estonia state became the National University of Tartu and remained the most important university in Estonia in the subsequent Soviet period. The regaining of full academic independence can be dated back to 1992, although since 1988 undisturbed research has been possible again. Numerous structural changes have been made since the 1990s (alternating based on the American, Scandinavian and Central European models) and are seen as part of the European knowledge landscape. In particular, the Bologna Process has promoted the integration of the University of Tartu into the European higher education area in the field of studies.

Today the University of Tartu is the only full university in Estonia and is one of the oldest in Eastern and Northern Europe. She is a member of the Coimbra Group and the Utrecht Network .

Culture academy

The Viljandi Culture Academy is a higher educational institution for applied cultural subjects and has been part of the University of Tartu since 2005.

Partner universities

Partner universities of the University of Tartu are the members of the Coimbra Group and other universities: Georg-August University Göttingen University Greifswald University Hamburg Christian Albrechts University Kiel German Sport University Cologne University Konstanz Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster University Helsinki University Turku University Amsterdam Reich University Groningen Lomonosov University in Moscow Saint Petersburg State University Gothenburg University Lund University Uppsala University


Jaak Aaviksoo (2011), Minister of Education and former Rector
Jaan Kross (1987)


Karl Ernst von Baer (1792–1876), discoverer of the human egg cell
Siim Kallas (* 1948), Estonian Prime Minister and EU Commissioner
Andrus Ansip (* 1956), Estonian Prime Minister and EU Commissioner


Older representations

Basic works and overview representations

  • Erich Donnert : The University Dorpat-Jur'ev 1802-1918. A contribution to the history of higher education in the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2007, ISBN 978-3-631-56477-6 .
  • Roderich von Engelhardt: The German University of Dorpat in its intellectual historical significance. Ernst Reinhardt, Munich 1933; v. Hirschheydt, Hannover-Döhren 1969, DNB 456540652 (Fotomechan. Reprint [of the edition] Reval, Kluge, 1933).
  • Tullio Ilomets, Hillar Palamets (Ed.): Alma Mater Tartuensis (1632-1982). Tartu riiklik ülikool = Tartuskij gosudarstvennyj universitet = Tartu state university = Tartu State University. Eesti Raamat, Tallinn 1982, OCLC 64199158 .
  • Reet Mägi, Wolfgang Drechsler (ed.): Imperial University Dorpat 200 - Academia Gustaviana 370 - The anniversary of the University of Tartu. Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus , Tartu 2004, OCLC 64199158 .
  • Arved von Taube , Erik Thomson, Michael Garleff : The Baltic Germans - fate and legacy of an independent community. In: Wilfried Schlau (Hrsg.): The German Baltic. Langen Müller, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-7844-2524-0 , pp. 51-114, on the University of Dorpat pp. 64-69.
  • Erik Thomson: Alma mater Dorpatensis. The University of Dorpat in Estonia from its beginnings to 1944. In: The Ostpreußenblatt . Vol. 33, volume 26, June 26, 1982, p. 20 ( PDF; 11.9 MB) .

Special aspects

  • Georg von Rauch : The University of Dorpat and the penetration of the early Enlightenment in Livonia 1690–1710 (= Sweden and Northern Europe. Issue 5). Essen publishing house, Essen 1943, DNB 362105006 ( plus Greifswald, Phil. Fak., Hab.-Schr., 1943); through reprograph. Repr . : G. Olms, Hildesheim, New York 1969, DNB 457885211 .
  • Csaba János Kenéz (arrangement): For the 350th anniversary of the University of Dorpat (= Documentation East Central Europe. N. F., Vol. 10, Issue 1/2 = Vol. 34, Issue 1/2). Johann Gottfried Herder Institute, Marburg a. d. Lahn 1984, DNB 850075319 .
  • Erik Amburger : The importance of the University of Dorpat for Eastern Europe. Examined on the composition of the teaching staff and student body in the years 1802–1889. In: Gert von Pistohlkors , Toivo U. Raun, Paul Kaegbein (eds.): The universities of Dorpat / Tartu, Riga and Wilna / Vilnius 1579–1979. Böhlau, Cologne 1987, pp. 163-181.
  • Lea Leppik: Leiutisi ja avastusi Keizerlikus Tartu Ülikoolis = Inventions and Discoveries at the Imperial Tartu University. Volume 1: Chemistry, Physics. Tartu Ülikooli Ajaloo Muuseum / Museum of Tartu University History, Tartu 2002, OCLC 71002308 (Estonian, English).
    • This: Inventions and Discoveries at the Imperial Tartu University. Volume 2: Medicine. Museum of Tartu University History, Tartu 2002 (Estonian, English).
  • Helmut Piirimäe, Claus Sommerhage (ed.): On the history of the Germans in Dorpat (= contributions to the university, student life, school system and Gustav v. Ewers ). Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus / University of Tartu, Chair of German Philology, Tartu 2000, OCLC 40485950 .
  • The universities of Dorpat / Tartu, Riga and Wilna / Vilnius 1579–1979. Contributions to their history and their impact in the border area between West and East (= sources and studies on Baltic history. Vol. 9). Edited by Gert von Pistohlkors , Toivo U. Raun, Paul Kaegbein. Böhlau, Köln / Wien 1987, ISBN 3-412-00886-9 (Second International Marburg Symposium on Problems of Baltic Social and Cultural History / International Marburg Symposium on Problems of Baltic Social and Cultural History).
  • Konstantin von Freytag-Loringhoven: Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930) and Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932). Living and learning in Dorpat as a lifelong reference for two Baltic German scientists. In: then and now . Vol. 59 (2014), ISSN  0420-8870 , pp. 41-90.

Web links

Commons : University of Tartu  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Dorpat  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Tegevusaruanne 2013 ( Memento from October 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). Edited by Tartu Ülikool , accessed on July 24, 2016 (PDF; 18.2 MB).
  2. ^ Gundolf Keil : Review by Elena Roussanova: German influences on the development of pharmacy in the Russian Empire. A manual (=  Relationes, series of publications of the project “Scientific Relations in the 19th Century between Germany and Russia in the Fields of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Medicine” at the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig. Volume 19). Shaker, Aachen 2016, ISBN 978-3-8440-4419-5 . In: Medical historical messages. Volume 35, 2016 (2018), pp. 295–299, here: p. 297.
  3. Michael Garleff: Dorpat as a university of the Baltic provinces in the 19th century. In: Gert von Pistohlkors, Toivo U. Raun, Paul Kaegbein (eds.): The universities of Dorpat / Tartu, Riga and Wilna / Vilnius 1579–1979. Böhlau, Cologne 1987, pp. 143-150.
  4. KNAUER, Fjodor (Friedrich) Iwanowitsch (Knauer, Matthäus Friedrich) (1849–1917)
  5. Viktor Krieger : Teutonia Dorpat, the only corporation of students of colonial origin in the Russian Empire, in: VadW 8-9 / 2020, pp. 47-48
  6. UT's partner universities. In:, accessed on July 24, 2016 (English). See the international partners. In:, accessed on July 24, 2016 (English).