The StudierendenGesellschaft Witten/Herdecke is a non-profit organization, that was founded in 1995 by students of Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H). The students in Witten organize their financial contribution to the UW/H fees themselves and independently. The ISA, the Income Share Agreement between student generations (or „umgekehrter Generationenvertrag“, abbreviated „UGV“ in German), as a payment concept for their financial contribution promotes equal opportunities in education and freedom at Witten/Herdecke University. The three payment modes enable students to finance their studies independently from their parents’ income or social background.
Since 1995 the SG guarantees free access to higher education, an independent study organization and a free choice of a professional career for all students. Why? Because studying in Witten is not bound to money!
Besides organizing the students’ financial contribution – which is currently about € 10.0M yearly – and the support of student-based activities, the SG is co-owner of Witten/Herdecke University. Throughout this position, the students can voice their interest and needs insistently.
When the introduction of tuition fees at Witten/Herdecke University was imminent in 1995, the concerns were great: How can we prevent that from now on it is mainly money, but not individual abilities, that decides who studies in Witten? How can we prevent the economisation of studies? How can we prevent studies and career choices from becoming increasingly subordinate to financial constraints?
These questions not only found a convincing answer in the Income Share Agreement, but also contained what we still see as the ideals of the student society many years later: The Three Freedoms.
The RGC enables you to study at the UW/H regardless of your financial background. It depends solely on you and your abilities, not on the thickness of your parents’ wallets.
Students are entitled to exercise their personal independence and responsibility in designing their own course of study, without limitation due to having to make a financing contribution. Economization of one’s education – a principle by which financial necessity restricts the time a person is allowed to study – is not adequate to this entitlement. Paying a fixed amount while one is still in school is an expression of this principle.
All graduates should be entitled to choose what profession they take up freely. Such a choice must not be limited by a set mountain of debt. This principle is reflected in payment later according to one’s income; i.e. once you have completed your education, you contribute what you can, based on your financial capacity.
The Three Freedoms are the fundamental values of our work in the Students’ Society. They are complemented by another ideal, without which no freedom can grow: Solidarity.
The StudierendenGesellschaft spans a net with you and all its members that catches all those who fall. In return, you pay a larger contribution if you earn more, or are supported by the others if you cannot afford to pay back. In this way, the cohesion and solidarity of the students gives you the freedom to shape your life the way you want.
Freedom through solidarity – and solidarity through freedom.
The general assembly has lastly amended the current statutes of StudierendenGesellschaft Witten/Herdecke e.V. on March 4th, 2016. They can be downloaded (German only) here.
As the highest-ranking body of the StudierendenGesellschaft, the general assembly comprises regular members (students currently enrolled at Witten/Herdecke University) and supporting members (alumni and externals). It decides on appointment, dismissal and discharge of the supervisory board; amendments to the articles of association; model contracts governing tuition payment for studies at Witten/Herdecke University.
The executive board is appointed by the supervisory board and currently consists of four students plus two further students in the capacity of a project manager. It is in charge of day-to-day business, accounting and the preparation of annual financial statements and the budget for each fiscal year.
The supervisory board comprises eleven members, six of them UW/H students. Among its duties are the supervision of and advice to the executive board as well as its appointment, dismissal and discharge. Furthermore, the supervisory board approves the annual financial statement and budget.
The social committee aims to avoid undue hardship related to the implementation of tuition payment contracts at Private Universität Witten/Herdecke.
The conciliation office regulates all legal disputes that may arise from contracts on tuition payments as a first recourse. Only if a final decision of the conciliation office is not accepted are the parties involved free to take legal measures.
Two executive board members represent the StudierendenGesellschaft among the UW/H Associates. The associates are the owner of UW/H and decide on the highest level about the long-term development of the University.
The SG is shaped by many people
The StudierendenGesellschaft Executive Board manages and represents the organization. It consists of at least three active members of the society, which are appointed by the supervisory board. Essential areas of work are Communication, Financials and IT.
Board member of risk management
Ingmar Lampson has been an economics student at UW/H since 2006. For several years he was active in controlling at Sal. Oppenheimer jr. & Cie AG & Co. KGaA. In 2011 he started in the controlling division of Klett Lernen und Information GmbH, Stuttgart. In 2013 he took over the position of managing director at praxisDienste Fortbildungs GmbH, Heidelberg. He is a board member of SG since 2009.
Board member of communication
Nils Luerweg has been studying philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Witten/Herdecke since 2016. Before studying in Witten, he completed internships at a financial service provider and in the German Bundestag. In addition to his studies, he co-chaired the initiative “Willkommen in Witten” and most recently worked as a lecturer in labor market qualification. Politically, Nils Luerweg is also involved in the CDU and in the nonpartisan RPJ. Since October 2019 he has been a member of the board of SG.
Board member of communication
Sarah Luther has been studying philosophy, politics and economics at UW/H since 2020. Before studying in Witten, she was involved as an ambassador for the non-governmental organisation “Jugend Rettet e.V.” and initiated painting and handicraft courses in a residential accommodation for refugees, which was followed by an intensive examination of European integration and refugee policy. As an alpine dairymaid in the Bernese Oberland, Sarah Luther gained valuable insight into the contexts of economic activity. She is a scholarship holder of the German National Academic Foundation. Most recently, she gained initial experience at the SG as a student assistant in the areas of communication and strategy and has been a member of the SG Board since April 2021.
Board member of finance
Takashi Themann has been studying Management B. Sc. at the UW/H. During his school years, he took up junior studies in law and political science at the University of Hamburg and got involved as a student representative. At the age of 16, he founded his first company, which produces and sells high-quality garments made of woollen fabrics (tweed) under fair conditions. After graduating from high school, he worked for six months as a project manager in a technology company. Most recently, he gained his first SG experience as a student assistant in the finance department and has been a member of the SG board since April 2021.
The student project management of the StudierendenGesellschaft supports the Executive Board in operational tasks and carries out independent projects.
Project Manager IT
Florian Berth has been studying Management B.Sc. at UW/H since 2020. Most recently, he worked as an IT consultant for a medium-sized family business. At SG, he is responsible for the operational functionality of the organization as well as the long and medium-term development of the IT infrastructure.
Project Manager Communication design
Esther Dullinger has been studying communication design at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences since 2020. Prior to her studies, she attended a fashion school with a focus on fashion design and graphics and was able to gain initial experience in the field of communication design during an internship. Since November 2020, she has been responsible for the area of communication design at the StudierendenGesellschaft as a project manager, supporting the board in operational tasks and implementing independent projects.
With a lot of perseverance and care, Cäsar Scaffidi-Abbate, Regine Bongert, Petra Soldat, Daniela Rode (from left to right) and Stefan Maetschke (not in the picture) are responsible for the entire operational handling of the Income Share Agreement. In addition to bookkeeping, contract administration and office organisation, they take care of the support and counselling of active students and repayers. Furthermore, they are your contact persons for all questions regarding enrolment, the Income Share Agreement, repayment and the social committee.
The supervisory board is the advisory and supervising committee of the StudierendenGesellschaft. It consists of supporting members (external persons associated with Witten/Herdecke University) and orderly members (students from different departments and semesters). Among the supervisory board’s tasks are the supervision of activities performed by the board of managers and the providing of support on special questions.
Student Philosophy, Politics and Economics (UW/H)
Student of Psychology (UW/H)
Management student (UW/H)
Student of Human Medicine (UW/H)
Student of Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine (UW/H)
Dr. Sarah Becker
Alumna of Human Medicine and Doctoral Candidate in Economics (UW/H), Institute for Digital Transformation in Healthcare GmbH
Dr. Hans-Georg Beyer, CFA
Alumnus and doctoral candidate in economics (HSG) and Commerzbank Head of Group Audit MSB Products International
Prof. Dr. Felix Fabis
Professor at the Police Academy of Lower Saxony, Oldenburg
Former lecturer at the Faculty of Economics (UW/H)
Family entrepreneur and executive business coach
Caspar-Fridolin Lorenz, Vorsitzender
Alumnus of Economics and Cultural Reflection (UW/H) and student of Cultural Studies (HU Berlin)
Alumnus of Economics (UW/H), former board member of the SG
The SG’s statutes were drawn up at the founding meeting in 1995 and have formed the core of our association ever since. You can take a look at the current version of our “holy statutes” here.
The StudierendenGesellschaft has once again been able to successfully refinance itself. With a loan of 9.65 million euros from GLS Bank, the Reverse Generation Contract is also secured for the future. The need for refinancing has arisen because the number of students has been increasing strongly for years, and with it the tuition fees to be prefinanced by the SG. More information on the successful refinancing step in our press release.
UW/H continues to grow to almost 2500 students. A larger percentage of the newly enrolled students opt for payment after graduation provided for in the inverse contract between student generations. This is why the SG registers an emerging financial gap.
More funds are needed to bridge the gap between pre-financing tuition fees to the university and receiving payments from the graduates. The StudierendenGesellschaft issues a first bond with a volume of € 7.5 million, a term of 10 years and a fixed annual rate of 3.6 %. The bond is traded in the open market of the Düsseldorf stock exchange (WKN/ISIN A12UD9/DE000A12UD98), issue of consecutive bonds is scheduled every three or four years.
As a consequence of the severe financial crisis at the university late in 2008, another rise in tuition fees was decided as a contribution to the university’s recapitalization. A temporary supplementary contribution was charged in addition to regular fees and was reduced in 2014.
On June 27, 2005 the SG general meeting decided to charge higher tuition fees starting with the winter term 2005/2006 in order to give more support to Witten/Herdecke University in its financial straits. At a time of student rebellion against the introduction of tuition payments at many state universities, this voluntary acceptance of higher tuition fees received a great deal of public attention.
In 2001 the UW/H Board of Directors conferred one of the 12 seats on the body to the StudierendenGesellschaft. In 2009 the Board of Directors was replaced by a board of associates where the StudierendenGesellschaft (in 2015) holds a share of ca. 4 %.
Sketched on a paper napkin, the core concept of an inverse contract between student generations was born at the kitchen table of a shared flat in Witten at midnight. The idea was an option to start tuition payments after graduation, i.e. as soon as a graduate has a job and an income. Contributions geared to a student’s individual circumstances and not to social background might help the university to remain true to its principles: an institution of tertiary education where individual performance, integrity and responsibility for the common good are the main criteria. The idea of the inverse contract between student generations is simple: study today and pay tomorrow. In this way, graduates pay for currently enrolled students.
UW/H students returning from the summer break in autumn 1994 were informed that the university executive board and the NRW government had agreed to introduce tuition fees by the end of the year to put the university’s finances in order. Students were faced with a dilemma: they appreciated the liberal study conditions at Witten/Herdecke University which would be endangered by conventional tuition schemes; on the other hand, their financial contributions appeared inevitable to secure these conditions on a sustainable basis.
The UW/H was founded in 1982 as Germany’s first non-state university. With its three faculties – Health, Economics and Cultural Reflection – it is a pioneer in the German educational landscape. The university has set itself the goal of testing new forms of teaching and learning, developing new fields of study and approaches in research, as well as breaking new ground in the organisation of an academic university. Its aim is to create a framework that enables students to shape their studies freely and on their own responsibility. The development of the personality is an equally important goal alongside the acquisition of academic qualifications.
The number of study places has risen continuously in recent years. Currently, Witten/Herdecke University has around 2,500 students in 19 degree programmes.
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.
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:
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 number of students at Witten/Herdecke University has doubled in the past five years. Currently, the university, which is privately run, has around 2,400 students. By 2020, the number is expected to rise to up to 3,000 due to the growing demand for study places.
To finance the tuition fees in a socially acceptable way in Witten, about half of the enrolled students currently use the Income Share Agreement (ISA) and are thus part of a cross-generational solidarity community. The ISA enables all students to finance their studies in a socially acceptable way – regardless of their socio-economic background. The expected increase in the number of first-year students means that more students will make use of our financing model in the future.
For the StudierendenGesellschaft, as the central administrator of all tuition fees and developer of the ISA, this means that it will have to disburse higher financial contributions to the University in the coming years. To be more precise: it will need more funding to bridge the period between the disbursement and the start of the repayments.
The successful start to the refinancing of the StudierendenGesellschaft and thus the long-term safeguarding of the Income Share Agreement was demonstrated by the placement of the first student bond in November 2014. Click here for details of the student bond.
Three years later, in January 2018, a loan agreement for 9.65 million euros was signed with GLS Bank. A favourable interest rate environment and the willingness of all banks approached to take the second refinancing step with the StudierendenGesellschaft led to the decision for a loan. Here is the press release on the loan agreement