The relationship between Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H) and the StudierendenGesellschaft functions on a partnership basis. Each student makes his or her financial contribution through the StudierendenGesellschaft. The tuition fees handled by the StudierendenGesellschaft are based on a unique contribution idea, one that incorporates an understanding of students as entrepreneurs. Changes in the amount students contribute to UW/H must always be made in agreement between the UW/H and the StudierendenGesellschaft. The fact that students control the processing of tuition fees is an example par excellence for the implementation of the basic principles of the UW/H:
encouragement of freedom
striving for truth
and of its fundamentally entrepreneurial understanding of the notion of higher education.
“The funding shares students contribute to the University’s budget serve its long-term safeguarding and preservation. The range of this contribution to the success of the idea which is the „Private Universität Witten/Herdecke gGmbH“ is determined according to the students’ financial capabilities and their appreciation of the University, but not according to the compass of the services from which the students profit. It is in this spirit that the members of the StudierendenGesellschaft unite to become a shared risk community mutually supporting one another in the realization of the three kinds of freedom.”
(excerpt from the contribution regulation for the summer term 2015, effective 3 March, 2015).
Moreover, since 2001, the StudierendenGesellschaft has been a shareholder of the UW/H. With a current share of about 7,6 % of the University’s business, it is represented in the shareholders’ assembly by two members of the board of directors and advocates especially the maintenance of liberal conditions of study.
The UW/H was founded in the early 1980s as Germany’s first private university. In addition to the medical school, it also offers the possibility to study dentistry and nursing, as well as philosophy, business and cultural reflection.
The goal the UW/H has set for itself is to test new forms of teaching and learning, to develop new directions of study and new approaches to research, and to take new paths toward the organisation of a scientific academy. It aspires to the creation of a context that will enable students in freedom and self-responsibility to design and organise their course of study. In this process, the goal of personal development has equal priority with that of acquiring special qualifications. The course of study emphasises practical relevance, methodological thinking, and interdisciplinarity, for the sake of developing the ability of autonomous problem-solving. “Transformation, not training” might be a suitable summary of these goals. For more on the UW/H, click here.