Three Liberties

The StudierendenGesellschaft sees itself as the guardian of the three freedoms at the UW/H. With the Income Share Agreement, we have been trying to realise these freedoms since 1995. We have already made it possible for more than 4,000 members to study in Witten in this way.

Free Access to Higher Education

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.

Free Independent Study Organization

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.

Free Choice of a Professional Career

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 Liberties are the fundamental values on which the Income Share Agreement is based. They are complemented by another ideal, without which no freedom can grow: Solidarity.

The StudierendenGesellschaft spans a net with you and all its members, which catches all those who fall. In return, you pay a larger contribution if you earn more, or are borne by the others if you cannot afford repayment. In this way, the cohesion and solidarity of the students gives you the freedom to shape your life independently of financial constraints.

Freedom through solidarity – and solidarity through freedom


Freedom and solidarity with the ISA

With the ISA, you decouple your studies at Witten/Herdecke University from the payment of fees. This way you can fully concentrate on your studies, while the StudierendenGesellschaft takes over the payment of fees to the university. In this way, the SG ensures that you can study freely at Witten regardless of your financial background.

In return, you agree to return a percentage of your income to the community after graduation. If your income is below a certain limit, you pay nothing back. If your income is particularly high, you pay back a little more. With your repayments you enable the next generation of students to study under the same liberal conditions.

Due to the income dependency, the repayment can be adjusted to your individual life situation at any time. Unlike a loan, you are not exposed to the risk of a fixed debt burden and rigid repayment obligations. The model gives you the freedom to shape your professional life independently and self-determined. For us, this is true solidarity!

Study period

If you wish, the SG will pay your tuition fees during your studies at Witten/Herdecke University. The duration of your studies has no effect on the amount of these contributions nor on the amount of your later repayment.

Repayment after graduation

After you graduate, you pay back a fixed percentage of your income to the solidarity community – without risk. In concrete terms, this means that you only pay back what you can afford.

Minimum income

If your income in a calendar year is below a certain limit (currently approx. € 30,000 gross), you do not pay anything back in that year.


At the same time, the repayment is capped and ends automatically when a maximum limit is reached. The maximum limit depends on the respective study program and is two times the financing contribution paid by the SG to the UW/H.

Pros and cons at a glance

Pros during the period of study
  • Financial relief – no tuition fees or interest payments
  • No risk due to fixed debt load and repayment obligations
  • No collateral or guarantees necessary
  • Part of a solidarity community
  • Can be combined with BAföG and scholarships of any kind
Pros after the period of study
  • Protection by the minimum income
  • Income-dependent repayment
  • Full flexibility for further training steps and career breaks
  • Upward protection through the cap
  • Partial tax deductibility, based on current legal situation, more in our fact sheet on tax deductibility
  • Obligation to repay
  • higher repayment in case of high income
  • Disclosure of the annual income tax assessment

Three Ways To Pay

You do not have to decide to pay later with the ISA. You can also pay the tuition fees – in full or in half – during your studies.

Regardless of the payment option, you pay the same on average (see contribution idea below). Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how long you study – your contributions are based on your degree.

In total, we offer three payment options.


    No one has to pay while they are still at university. Students may make their financial contribution after they finish their studies, depending on their income and over a clearly defined period. The basis of the assessment is a person’s gross income less work-related deductions and a fixed pension plan rate as determined by the German Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG).


    Payment will be made up to a contractually set maximum limit. An annual income of currently up to 21,000 Euros will not be called on for repayment. Even students who take more or less time than average to complete their studies make their repayment contribution over the defined period, without exception.


    It is also possible to pay tuition while you attend the University of Witten/Herdecke. Students who elect this alternative make a set monthly payment for the duration of the regular time it takes to complete one’s studies.

    No further payment is required once the standard period of studies is finished since the monthly instalments figure out to the exact fixed amount. What counts is not the number of semesters, but rather the respective fixed amount, as it is described in the concept of making financing contributions.


    This variant combines both the ‘Income-related repayment after graduation’ and the ‘Fixed direct payment’ by cutting immediate payment and repayment overtime in half.

    While students are studying at the university, they pay half the fixed amount in monthly instalments distributed over the time it usually takes to finish a course of study; after completion, they pay half of the calculated income-based percentage over the period defined for the later repayment.

Our guiding principles

Your fees depend on your individual ability to pay

Our tuition fees support Witten/Herdecke University. Together, all students provide an important part of the annual budget and thus make a great contribution to the success of our university.

The idea of contributions is central to this: Unlike conventional tuition fees, which are based on the concrete costs of the services you use, tuition fees are based on students’ individual ability to pay and their personal appreciation of their university. In this sense, the members of the StudierendenGesellschaft form a solidarity community and support each other in the realisation of the Three Freedoms: Free access to studies, free design of studies and free choice of career.

Fairness of Contributions

behalf of all students. Based on the actual income of graduates of the UW/H, we translate the percentage and the repayment period into programme-specific immediate payment contributions. Because the immediate payment contributions are based on the later payment contributions, you pay the same on average regardless of which payment option you choose. For you, high fees do not mean that the costs for the degree programme are particularly high, but that the graduates earn particularly much.

Our Concept of Making Financial Contributions

The financial contributions from the students serve for a sustainable safeguard and lasting preservation of Witten/Herdecke University. This system can support the idea of the “Private Universität Witten/Herdecke gGmbH” but is subject to the financial possibilities as well as the esteem from the students for their University, however, does not cover the extent of the taken services. Effectively the members of the StudierendenGesellschaft unite in a supportive society to support each other while keeping the three principles.

The calculation of the amount to be paid immediately is done based on the previously set amount to be repaid later (repayment duration + percentage). To do this, the StudierendenGesellschaft consults the income information of all those who repay after graduation. Data from pay statements of these alumni are averaged to obtain the average income of a graduate from Witten/Herdecke from a particular program. When determining a contribution to be paid immediately, the fixed percentage is applied to ascertain the average income projected for the future, which in turn is applied to/discounted from the current normal period it takes to complete a course of study.

Thus the amount to be paid while enrolled at UW/H is proportionate to the projected average income of its graduates. As a consequence, a differentiation in the contributions is based on the same percentage and duration of repayment for all courses of study and resulting from different amounts of income. The data used to calculate the average income are regularly updated and adjusted based on the data of the most recent graduates. Payments to be made during enrollment are always compared with the actual income of UW/H graduates and updated.

ISA easily explained

What others think …

Of all the models we know of, the ISA […] at the University of Witten/Herdecke […] seems to us to be the most flexible with really fair conditions.

Join in & participate

The SG – Your voice at UW/H

At UW/H, we students pay and manage our tuition fees ourselves. This “mammoth task” not only gives us responsibility, but also a special opportunity to have a say.

The StudierendenGesellschaft has been a co-owner of Witten/Herdecke University since 2001. An absolute novelty in Germany: a university that is partly owned by its students! Currently, the shares held by the SG are 7.6%.

For our everyday student life, this means that we can bring our concerns to the highest commercial level, the shareholders’ meeting, via the SG.

Stand up for your interests – become part of the SG!

In order to fulfil our role as the voice of the students and as co-owner of the university in a meaningful way, we need you – and your opinion! Because: Like every non-profit association, the SG lives from its members, who fill the organisation with life and contribute their concerns. Together we can tackle the university issues that concern you and thus help shape our study conditions in the long term.

What does that mean in practice?

Come to the general meetings! At least twice a semester, we invite you to our general meetings by email to discuss current topics, inform you about ongoing work and vote on resolutions.

Become active yourself in the Executive Board, Project Management or Supervisory Board! The SG is always looking for support in its team of Executive Board, PM and Supervisory Board. If there is a specific need, we send out job advertisements by e-mail, but we are also happy to accept your application here on your own initiative.

Talk to us! In addition, if you have ideas, questions or problems in your degree programme, in your faculty or at the university in general, get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to listen to you and see where your concerns can best be addressed. You can reach us by email, phone or in person in the rooms E4-E9 in the main building.


Finn Lampson