1 History of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Plans to found a university in Berlin were first discussed at the end of the 18th century. After 1800, the idea gained substantial impetus from great scholars of the period, such as the German philosophers Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schleiermacher, whose ideas of reform influenced Wilhelm von Humboldt’s university concepts: He imagined a 'universitas litterarum', which would unite teaching and research and strive for a comprehensive humanistic education of students.

Foundation in 1810

At the time of its foundation in October 1810, the University of Berlin consisted of the four traditional faculties: Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. Initially, the Royal Library was made available to the University. The University Library was established in 1831.

In 1829, the "Charité" was integrated into the University as the Faculty of Medicine. The "Charité" began as a plague hospital in 1710, which had been built outside the city walls, and was given its current name in 1727. Later, the School of Veterinary Medicine (opened in 1790) as well as the Museum of Natural History both became part of the Humboldt-Universität. In 1934, the Faculty of Agriculture was added, which is now part of the Faculty of Life Sciences.

The present-day university bore the name "Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität" from 1828 until 1945. Twenty-nine Nobel Laureates - among them Albert Einstein, Max Planck and Fritz Haber - were affiliated to the Berlin University in the course of their research and teaching. They contributed to its excellent academic reputation, which the University continues to enjoy today.

National Socialism left deep marks on the Berlin University. Numerous Jewish academics and students were dismissed or ex-matriculated from the University, and members of the University took part in the Book Burning on May 10th, 1933. In the light of this history and the position of the University in the centre of the democratic surroundings of the German capital, the present-day Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin sees itself as obligated to continually critically examine its position in politics and society.

Reconstruction after 1945

In January 1946, courses were resumed at the badly destroyed University, initially only in seven Faculties. Disputes quickly arose regarding the communist exertion of influence on the University, and led to a schism in the faculty and student body. This resulted in the foundation of the Freie Universität in the western part of the city in December 1948.

Since 1949, the University on Unter den Linden bears the name of the brothers Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt. Developments in higher education in the former GDR created structures at Humboldt-Universität which diverged sharply from earlier scholarly traditions and thoroughly changed the contents and organisation of university education as well as the conditions under which research was conducted. The state controlled the development of the University. Nevertheless, the university was able to attain international recognition in a number of academic fields.

Humboldt-Universität today

Through the reunification of Germany on 3 October 1990, Berlin became a city with four universities. Humboldt-Universität developed new academic structures: The content of the courses was reassessed, amended and redefined. About 500 scholars and academic staff were newly appointed or reappointed. At that point, roughly half of the professors were East German and half West German. Currently, women make up thirty percent of the appointed staff.

Today, the Humboldt-Universität consists of nine faculties, several interdisciplinary centres and institutions, as well as clusters and graduate schools. Humboldt-Universität and the Charité Medical School are currently home to 38,000 students, over 16 percent of whom come from abroad. Thus, in the decade after political changes in Germany and internal restructuring, Humboldt became one of the most attractive universities to attend in Germany.

The University has an exceptionally diverse range of subjects - especially in the Arts and Humanities - that currently comprises 190 study courses. This includes many "small" disciplines such as Biophysics or Ancient Greek as well as the "large" disciplines of Law and Medicine. The University also offers a wide range of teacher training study courses, including Rehabilitation Sciences with its specialisations.

The newly-developed and continuously expanding Natural Science Campus in Berlin-Adlershof offers the unique possibility to study the Natural Sciences in close co-operation with other research institutions and in immediate application in modern high-tech companies. The Adlershof Campus is surrounded by a Science Park, in which small and medium enterprises with non-university research institutions co-operate with the University to make an integrative and fruitful research environment.

The Humboldt-Universität has been one of the eleven "Excellence" universities of the Federal Republic of Germany since 2012. Within the framework of the Excellence Initiative on the Federal and State levels, the university proved to be successful in all of the three funding lines ("Future Concepts", "Cluster of Excellence", "Graduate School"). In competition and in university-based research, interdisciplinarity enjoys a high priority in answering research questions. Questions of Neuroscience are opened to perspectives from Philosophy, the interaction of humans and the environment asks questions from many different areas of Climate Research and the development of new materials plays off of the interfaces between Chemistry and Physics, a Centre for Migration Research asks questions of the development of societies in Europe and in the world.

But Humboldt-Universität is also strong within the disciplines themselves. According to the 2016/17 ranking by the Centre of University Development (CHE), Humboldt-Universität scores top ranks in the subjects English and American Studies, Psychology, Chemistry, Educational Sciences and German Studies compared to other German universities. In the 2015/16 ranking, the Humboldt-Universität scored top ranks in the subjects of History, Law, and Economics. Its academic success is demonstrated through its 10 Collaborative Research Centres in addition to numerous participations (including Medicine) in 7 Graduate Schools in the capacity of speaker and 8 in participation, 43 Graduate Schools and Graduate Programmes, a German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Centre, 8 German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Groups as well as numerous other externally funded research projects. Since the 1990s, Humboldt continued to extend external funding for research activities to approx. € 256.5 million in 2015 (including Charité).

An international university

Renowned universities from all over the world take a strong interest in working closely together with Humboldt-Universität, underscoring the pivotal role the University plays in global academic dialogues. New partnerships are made with success, and traditional relationships are carried forward. Present-day Humboldt-Universität has over 120 University and Faculty partnerships all over the world, including Profile Partnerships with Princeton University, the National University of Singapore and the Universidade de Sao Paulo.

Humboldt's international appeal and its commitment to excellence are visible through the growing number of exchange students. In fact, about 1,500 Humboldt students participate in various university exchange programmes every year. The ERASMUS programme is of particular significance in this context; as each year, over 800 students go abroad in order to study for one or two semesters at one of the over 400 universities in partner-countries in the programme.

Currently, about 1,500 international exchange students per year come to attend courses at Humboldt. Here, too, the ERASMUS programmes play a decisive role, with more than 850 of these students from their programme. In addition, exchange programmes with universities in the United States and Canada, in Central and Eastern European countries (especially in the Russian Federation) are of major importance. Students from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea and Thailand are also part of the international student contingent.

The International Parliamentary Internship Scheme (IPS), set up by the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) in cooperation with three Berlin universities, provides the opportunity for some 120 award holders from 35 countries to undertake an internship in the Federal Parliament while pursuing part-time studies at university.