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Furtwangen University looks back on a tradition of over 150 years as a teaching institution. It has founded its third campus and enjoys a reputation for outstanding and innovative study programmes. Yet it still remains a relatively small university which offers students the real advantage of having quick and easy access to infrastructure as well as close and personal contact with professors and staff, making studying with us both easy and pleasant. In general, Furtwangen University's study programmes are regularly ranked amongst the top programmes in their field, according to research into university education in Germany. Most recently, Furtwangen University was voted number one in Germany in the International Student Barometer.
Furtwangen University emerged from the first German School of Clockmaking in Furtwangen in the Black Forest. The school was founded in 1850 by the engineer Robert Gerwig. The German Clock Museum, the largest German watch collection (founded by Robert Gerwig as a display collection), is still a department of the University.
After the Second World War, the Furtwangen School of Clockmaking was divided into two branches: a vocational school (today the Robert Gerwig School, which still houses the Watchmaking School today) and the State Engineering School for Precision Engineering, which became the Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences (FHF) with the introduction of the universities of applied sciences in 1971.
The founding director of the engineering school was Friedrich Aßmus. After teaching and research in Furtwangen had concentrated on engineering sciences for a long time, the range of courses of study was expanded to include computer science, business informatics, economics and digital media from the 1970s onwards. In 1997, with the amendment of the State University Law of the State of Baden-Württemberg, it was first renamed "Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft" and later "Hochschule Furtwangen".
Currently, the university is headed by Rolf Schofer, who has been the rector of the HFU since 2006. His predecessor was Rainer Scheithauer. Scheithauer in turn took over the office in 1998 from Walter Zahradnik (term of office from 1985 to 1998).
Education in Germany is decentralised. The federal states independently take care of schools and universities and draw up their own laws and regulations. This also affects the student bodies of the universities. In Baden-Württemberg, the legal basis is the State University Act (German: Landeshochschulgesetz (LHG)). There the student organization is regulated, too. In 2013 the so-called constitutional student bodies were reintroduced in Baden-Württemberg. The constitutional student bodies are made up of all registered students of a university and are legally bound to the respective university as a public corporation and are therefore under the legal supervision of the university. They are largely independent and can decide on finances and student university policy themselves. They also represent the professional, social, economic and cultural interests of their members.
The executive body of the constitutional student body is the General Student Committee (German: Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss (AStA)). This committee is mainly responsible for the organization, financing and control of the student leisure and sports activities at the HFU. In addition, there are festivities and other events in cooperation with the faculties' student bodies. Since the LHG does not take into account the particularities of several, distant locations of the HFU when re-introducing the student bodies, this presents the student self-administration with special challenges. In everyday life, communication and organisation across three locations and two learning centres is particularly affected.
The student life is, similar to the HFU, divided between the three locationsand and is concentrated at the respective locations. De facto, the AStA is also divided between the three locations and takes care of student affairs largely independent from the other parts of the HFU. In order to comply with the law, these "Campus-AStas" are only branches of the actual AStA, which operates across all three locations.
In close cooperation with the university, the Technology Department (German: AStA-Technik) at Campus Furtwangen is mostly responsible for the lighting and sound systems for many HFU events and for the university's own student events. In addition to accompanying graduation ceremonies of various faculties, the HFU half-marathon, the International Festival of the International Center and other events of the faculties are also supervised - including the Media Day (a kind of student work show) with the MediaNight in the evening, organized by the faculty of digital media at the end of semester. The event equipment is fully owned by the constituted student body and is only operated by selected members of the student body, organized in the Technology Department.
For international students, the International Office arranges a two-week orientation programme with an intensive German language course. Organisational issues are handled by the course coordinator.