University of Hamburg

The University of Hamburg (German: Universität Hamburg, also referred to as UHH) is a comprehensive university in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded on 28 March 1919, having grown out of the previous General lecture system (Allgemeines Vorlesungswesen) and the Colonial Institute of Hamburg (Hamburgisches Kolonialinstitut) as well as the Academic college (Akademisches Gymnasium). The main campus is located in the central district of Rotherbaum, with affiliated institutes and research centers spread around the city-state.

University of Hamburg
Universität Hamburg
Latin: Universitas Hamburgensis
Der Forschung, der Lehre, der Bildung
Motto in English
For research, for teaching, for education
Established1919 (1919)
Budget€ 665 million[1]
ChancellorMartin Hecht
PresidentDieter Lenzen
Academic staff
Administrative staff
ColoursRed and white
AffiliationsEUA, Campus Europae, German U15

Six Nobel Prize Winners and one Wolf Prize Winner are affiliated with the university. The institution has been ranked in the top 200 universities worldwide by frequently cited ranking systems such as the Times Higher Education Ranking,[2] the Shanghai Ranking[3] and the CWTS Leiden Ranking,[4] placing it among the top 1% of global universities.[5]

On a national scale, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHH 7th[6] and QS World University Rankings 14th[7] out of a total of 426 German institutions of higher education.[8]


Founding of the university

At the beginning of the 20th century, wealthy individuals made several petitions to the Hamburg Senate and Parliament requesting the establishment of a university that was made to no avail. Although for a time, senator Werner von Melle supported the merging of existing institutions into one university, this plan failed because of the parliament's composition which can be contributed to class voting. Much of the establishment wanted to see Hamburg limited to its dominant role as a trading center, and shunned both the costs of a university and the social demands of the professors that would have to be employed.

Progress was made, however, since proponents of a university founded the Hamburg Science Foundation (Hamburgische Wissenschaftliche Stiftung) in 1907 and the Hamburg Colonial Institute in 1908. The former institution supported the recruitment of scholars for the chairs of the General lecture system and funding of research cruises, and the latter was responsible for all education and research questions concerning overseas territories. In the same year, the citizens approved a construction site on the Moorweide for the establishment of a lecture building, which opened in 1911. This later became the main building of the university. Unfortunately, the plans for the foundation of the university itself had to be shelved, following the outbreak of the First World War.

After the war, the first freely elected senate chose von Melle as mayor. He and Rudolf Ross made a push for education reform in Hamburg, and their law establishing the university and an adult high school finally went through. On March 28, 1919, the University of Hamburg opened its gates. The number of full professorships in Hamburg was increased from 19 to 39. Both the Colonial Institute and the General lecture system were absorbed into the university. The first faculties created by the university were Law and Political Science, Medicine, Philosophy and Natural Sciences.

Weimar Republic and the National Socialist Era

During the Weimar Republic, the university quickly grew to become important. Several thousand students were continuously enrolled, and the growing popularity drew scholars, such as Albrecht Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Aby Warburg and Ernst Cassirer to Hamburg. The number of full professors had grown to 75 by 1931. Since many students were suffering due to the poor economic situation that prevailed in the early republic, the Hamburg Association of Student Aid was founded in 1922. Ernst Cassirer became the principal of the university in 1929, one of the first Jewish scholars with that role in Germany.

The academic situation shifted quickly after the general election in March 1933. On May 1 of that year, the university held a ceremony to honor Adolf Hitler as its leader. Massive political influence by the Nazis followed, including the removal of books from the libraries and harassment against alleged enemies of the regime. About fifty scientists, including Ernst Cassirer and William Stern, had to leave the university.

At least ten students working with the White Rose in Hamburg were suspected and arrested; four of them died in custody or were executed. In the foyer of the lecture hall, a design by Fritz Fleer commemorative plate was taken in 1971 in memory of the four resistance fighters.

In the Federal Republic of Germany

Once the Second World War was over, the university reopened in the winter of 1945 with 17,800 employees. Out of the 2,872 students who were enrolled at the University of Hamburg in the first postwar semester of 1945/46, 601 had been admitted at the Philosophical, 952 at the Medical and 812 to the Faculty of Law and Political Science. The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences had the lowest number of enrolled students reaching 506 in total. The first student association during this period was elected in 1946 under British supervision, and it formed the foundation of the AStA in 1947.

During the West German era, new departments were added to the university, most notably the Faculty of Theology as well as the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences in 1954. The late 1950s and early 1960s saw a lot of construction; the Auditorium and the Philosopher's Tower where inaugurated near the Von-Melle-Park, while the Botanical Institute and Botanical Garden were relocated to Flottbeck. The university grew from 12,600 students in 1960 to 19,200 in 1970. A wave of protests during the student movements of 1968 sparked a reform of the university's structure, and in 1969, the Faculties were dissolved in favor of more interdisciplinary departments. Students and staff involved in the administration were also strengthened, and the office of Rektor was abolished in favor of a university president. However, parts of the reform were later rescinded in 1979. Further construction in the 1970s took up the remaining space on the main campus of Rotherbaum quarter, with the Geomatikum building and the Wiwi-Bunker (named for its bunker-like architecture) being the distinctive addition for that decade. Since then, new properties were opened in other parts of Hamburg. Two newly constructed buildings were opened adjacent to the Main Building in 1998 and 2002, revitalizing the Moorweide area of the university.

In 2005, the Hamburg University of Economy and Politics was merged into the University of Hamburg by a political act that was opposed by both institutions. Under the same act, the 17 departments were merged and restructured into six faculties. The university had also become used to regular cuts of its budget by the federal state of Hamburg. The implementation of the Bologna process was another major point of contention during that decade. Tuition fees were introduced at 500 euros in 2006, but later reduced to 375 euros and fully abolished in 2012.[9]


The University of Hamburg is made up of over 180 properties scattered throughout the city.[10] The Main Building stands on the Moorweide opposite Hamburg Dammtor station, not far from the main campus at Von-Melle-Park. The State and University Library Hamburg, the Audimax (Auditorium) and several other teaching buildings are all located in that area. The second cluster of university buildings is grouped around Martin Luther King Square in the same quarter. The Geomatikum marks the western end of the campus, near Schlump Metro Station. Several departments are located in other quarters: Physics is spread over branches at Jungiusstraße, Bergedorf (along with the Hamburg Observatory) and Bahrenfeld (with the world-renowned DESY and other facilities). Biology has locations in Flottbeck, while Computer sciences were moved to Stellingen in 1991. The medical school is located in the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf.


The annual recruitment of approximately 7,000 freshmen contribute to the current total of 43,636 students, out of which 6,000 graduate every year, including roughly 900 with a doctorate. Students can choose from 149 different majors which are offered by six faculties. With almost 700 professors engaged in teaching and research, the University of Hamburg is the largest in Hamburg. In addition, over 3,600 academic staff and 7,441 administrative and technical staff members are employed in the university.[11] The University of Hamburg supports seven Collaborative Research Centers (German: Sonderforschungsbereiche) sponsored by the German Research Foundation.


University rankings
ARWU World[12] 151-200
THE World[13] =180
QS World[14] 223

In October 2012, the university chair decided not to participate in national or global rankings in the foreseeable future, stating the administrative expenditures needed as a main reason. The small sample size used by many rankings and their methodology have also been criticized.[15] However, the University of Hamburg continues to be featured in major global rankings:

  • Measured by the number of top managers in the German economy, University of Hamburg ranked 15th in 2019.[16]
  • The Best Global Universities Ranking of the U.S. News & World Report ranks Hamburg 7th nationally, 44th in Europe and 121st in the world as of 2017.[6]
  • The QS World University Rankings and Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities place Hamburg among the national top 15 and global top 250 universities as of 2017.[7][17]
  • According to the Times Higher Education Ranking 2016, UHH ranks 19th in Germany and 180th worldwide.[18]
  • Hamburg is ranked 6th in Germany and 174th worldwide by the 2017 CWTS Leiden Ranking.[19]
  • The 2016 Center for World Universities (CWUR) ranks Hamburg 9th nationally[20] and 170th globally (out of more than 25,000 institutions).[5]
  • The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which classifies universities according to volume and impact of web publications, ranks UHH 5th in Germany and 140th worldwide out of roughly 12,000 universities.[21]
  • In 2016, Eduniversal ranks Universität Hamburg School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences 13th in Germany – between Technical University of Munich and Free University of Berlin – referring to Hamburg as an "excellent business school with reinforcing international influence".[22]
  • In 2019, Universität Hamburg was inducted into German Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments, a competition for top-level university research funding in Germany, with four distinct clusters of Excellence. As of July 2019, they are one of eleven universities to be awarded the status of University of Excellence for their “Flagship University” concept.[23][24]

Administrative structure

Faculty of Law

  • Jurisprudence

Faculty of Business Administration

  • Business Administration (BWL)

Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

  • Department of Social Economics
  • Department of Social Sciences
  • Department of Macroeconomics (VWL)

Faculty of Medicinal Sciences

  • Medical Sciences

Faculty of Education, Psychology and Human Movement

  • Department of Human Movement
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Psychology
  • Service Department for Evaluation

Faculty of Humanities

  • Asia - Africa Institute
  • Department of Theology
  • Department of History
  • Department of Cultural History and Contemporary Culture
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of Language, Literature, Media (SLM)

Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences

  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Geosciences
  • Department of computer science
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Physics
  • Center for Bioinformatics
  • Center for Forest Products

Faculty of Engineering

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering

List of facilities and associated institutes

The Hamburg State and University Library Carl von Ossietzky contains over 5 million volumes and is the biggest academic library in the Hamburg metropolitan area. It is also used as a legal deposit and archive for the city-state. The establishment of the library can be traced back to 1479. It owns a large number of special collections and items of historic value, including medieval manuscripts.[25] Hamburg University Press is also part of the library system.

A large number of Associated Institutes (An-Institute) stand in liaison with the university, among them the Hans-Bredow-Institut for Media Research and the Heinrich Pette Institute - Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology. Further institutions include:

The University of Hamburg oversees three museums: the Zoological Museum Hamburg, the Mineralogical Museum Hamburg and the Museum of Geology and Paleontology Hamburg. All of them are located on the central campus grounds. It is also one of the two founding members of the China-EU School of Law in China, which contains 16 member institutions for providing mid-career training, master's degree and joint doctoral research in China-European Law.[26]

People from the University of Hamburg



See also


  1. "Facts and figures". University of Hamburg. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  2. "World University Rankings". Times Higher Education (THE). 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  3. "ARWU World University Rankings 2017 - Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 - Top 500 universities - Shanghai Ranking - 2017".
  4. (CWTS), Centre for Science and Technology Studies. "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2016". CWTS Leiden Ranking 2016. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  5. "About | CWUR | Center for World University Rankings". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  6. "US News Best Global Universities in Germany | US News Best Global Universities". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  7. "QS World University Rankings 2016". Top Universities. 2016-08-25. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  8. "State & society - Institutions of higher education - Total of higher education institution - Federal Statistical Office (Destatis)". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  9. "German universities face funding fears as states scrap fees". The Guardian. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  10. "Gebäudeinformationen". University of Hamburg. October 23, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  11. "Zahlen und Fakten". University of Hamburg. July 2, 2013. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  12. "ARWU World University Rankings 2017 - Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 - Top 500 universities - Shanghai Ranking - 2017".
  13. "World University Rankings". 18 August 2017.
  14. "QS World University Rankings 2018". 1 February 2017.
  15. "Schotten dicht". Die Zeit. October 12, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  16. "An diesen Unis haben die DAX-Vorstände studiert |". (in German). Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  17. "ARWU World University Rankings 2016 | Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016 | Top 500 universities | Shanghai Ranking - 2016". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  18. "World University Rankings". Times Higher Education (THE). 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  19. "CWTS Leiden Ranking - Ranking 2017". Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  20. "CWUR 2016 | Top 1000 Universities in the World". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  21. "World | Ranking Web of Universities". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  22. "University and business school ranking in Germany". Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  23. "Excellence Strategy". DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
  24. "Clusters of Excellence: Complete List of Approved Projects" (PDF).
  25. "mehrsprachig ǀ Stabi Hamburg".
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. "All Nobel Prizes in Physics". Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  28. "All Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine". Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  29. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1989". Retrieved February 18, 2011.

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