Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

University of Hamburg

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Type  Public
President  Dieter Lenzen
Total enrollment  42,106 (2014)
Phone  +49 40 428380
Colors  White, Red
Chancellor  Martin Hecht
Address  20146 Hamburg, Germany
Founded  28 March 1919
Endowment  663 million EUR (2015)
University of Hamburg

Motto  der Forschung, der Lehre, der Bildung
Motto in English  for Research, Teaching and Education
Established  1919; 98 years ago (1919)
Affiliations  European University Association, European University Foundation - Campus Europae, U15
Notable alumni  Leo Strauss, Helmut Schmidt, Hans Adolf Krebs, J Hans D Jensen, Jürgen Ehlers
Similar  Humboldt University of Berlin, Hamburg University of Applie, University of Kiel, University of Göttingen, Hamburg University of Techno

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 Akademic Gymnasium. In spite of its relatively short history, six Nobel Prize Winners and serials of scholars are affiliated to the university. University of Hamburg is the biggest research and education institution in Northern Germany and one of the most extensive universities in Germany. The main campus is located in the central district of Rotherbaum, with affiliated institutes and research centres spread around the city state.


The institution is classified as a global top 200 university by frequently cited ranking systems such as the Times Higher Education Ranking, the CWTS Leiden Ranking and the Center for World University Rankings, placing it among the top 1% of global universities.

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

Student exchange program university of hamburg and university of north carolina english version

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, however those were made to no avail. Although for a time, senator Werner von Melle supported the merger of existing institutions into one university, this plan failed because of the parliaments composition due to the effects of 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 citizenry approved a construction site on the Moorweide for the establishment of a lecture building, which opened in 1911 and later became the Main Building of the university. However, 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 choose von Melle as mayor. He and Rudolf Ross made a push for education reform in Hamburg, and their law establishing the university and a 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 National Socialist era

During the Weimar Republic, the university quickly grew into importance. Several thousand students were continuously enrolled, and it drew scholars like Albrecht Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Aby Warburg and Ernst Cassirer to Hamburg. The number of full professors had by 1931 grown to 75. Because many students were suffering due to the bad economic situation that prevailed in the early republic, the Hamburg Association of Student Aid was founded in 1922. Ernst Cassirer became 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. Already 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 people. 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

After the Second World War, the university was 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 smallest number joined the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences with 506 students 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 structure, and in 1969 the faculties were dissolved in favor of more interdisciplinary departments. Student and staff involvement in the administration was also strengthened, and the office of Rektor abolished in favor of a university president. However, parts of the reform were later rescinded in 1979. Further construction in the 1970s also built 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. With 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.


Over 180 properties, scattered throughout the city, make up the University of Hamburg. 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. A second cluster of university buildings are 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 about 7,000 freshmen contributes to the current total of 41,000 students, out of which 6,000 graduate every year, including around 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 6,100 administrative and technical staff members are employed in the university. The University of Hamburg supports seven Collaborative Research Centres (German: Sonderforschungsbereiche) sponsored by the German Research Foundation.


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

  • 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.
  • The QS World University Rankings and Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities place Hamburg among the national top 20 and global top 300 universities as of 2017.
  • According to the Times Higher Education Ranking 2016, UHH ranks 19th in Germany and 180th worldwide.
  • Hamburg is ranked 9th in Germany and 187th worldwide by the 2016 CWTS Leiden Ranking.
  • The 2016 Center for World Universities (CWUR) ranks Hamburg 9th nationally and 170th globally (out of more than 25,000 institutions).
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Administrative structure

    Faculty of Law

  • Jurisprudence
  • Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

  • Department of Business Administration (BWL)
  • 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. 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:

  • Hamburg Observatory
  • German Climate Computing Centre
  • Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
  • Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory
  • Max Planck Institute of Meteorology
  • Confucius Institute Hamburg
  • Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging
  • 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.


  • Wolfgang Burandt – Lawyer, legal academic and professor for commercial law
  • Gerd Bucerius – Politician, the namesake of the Bucerius Law School
  • Ezriel Carlebach – Israeli journalist and editorial writer
  • Shiing-Shen Chern – Winner of Wolf Prize in mathematics in 1984
  • Jürgen Ehlers – Winner of Max Planck Medal in 2002
  • Juergen Fitschen – Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank from 2009-2016
  • Rainer Froese – Developer of FishBase
  • Harald zur Hausen – Winner of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008
  • Ingo Heidbrink – Maritime Historian. Secretary General of the International Commission for Maritime History
  • Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem – Legal scholar and a former judge of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
  • J. Hans D. Jensen – Winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963
  • Hein Kötz – Director of the Max-Planck-Institute for foreign and international private law (MPI-PRIV), the Bucerius Law School and Vice President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • Hans Adolf Krebs – Winner of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1953
  • Jens Marklof – Mathematician and physicist. Winner of the Whitehead Prize.
  • Paul Nevermann – First Mayor of Hamburg (1961–1965)
  • Jože Pučnik – Known as one of the "Fathers of Slovenian independence from Yugoslavia"
  • Dagmar Reichardt – Cultural scholar
  • Peter Schlechtriem – Law scholar
  • Wolfgang Schäuble – Germany's Federal Minister of Finance in the second and third Merkel cabinets since 2009
  • Helmut Schmidt – Graduate, Economist, Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982
  • Richard Sorge – Famous spy
  • Leo Strauss – Political philosopher well known for US Esotericism
  • Faculty

  • Emil Artin – Mathematician, professor from 1923 to 1937
  • Curt Kosswig – Zoologist who worked for many years in Turkey before spending 1955-1969 at Hamburg University
  • Rudolf Fleischmann – Experimental nuclear physicist
  • Wilhelm Lenz – Physicist, advisor of J. Hans D. Jensen
  • Willibald Jentschke – Experimental nuclear physicist
  • Klaus Koch – Expert in the growth of Biblical Studies
  • Arnold Kohlschütter – Well-known astronomer and astrophysicist
  • Agathe Lasch – First female professor at Hamburg (1917-1934), Germanic philologist and Holocaust victim
  • Wolfgang Paul – Winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989, founder of the DESY.
  • Wolfgang Pauli – Winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945
  • Johann Radon – Mathematician
  • W. G. Sebald – Literary critic and writer
  • Otto Stern – Winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 1943
  • William Stern – Inventor of the concept of the intelligence quotient (IQ)
  • Alfred Wegener – Founder of the continental drift theory
  • Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker – Nuclear physicist known as the longest-living member of the research team which performed nuclear research in Germany during the Second World War
  • References

    University of Hamburg Wikipedia