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About the University of Bern
The University of Bern (German: Universität Bern, French: Université de Berne, Latin: Universitas Bernensis) is a university in the Swiss capital of Bern and was founded in 1834. It is regulated and financed by the Canton of Bern. It is a comprehensive university offering a broad choice of courses and programs in eight faculties and some 150 institutes. With around 17,514 students, the University of Bern is the third biggest University in Switzerland.
The University of Bern operates at three levels: university, faculties and institutes. Other organizational units include interfaculty and general university units. The university's highest governing body is the Senate, which is responsible for issuing statutes, rules and regulations. Directly answerable to the Senate is the University Board of Directors, the governing body for university management and coordination. The Board comprises the Rector, the Vice-Rectors and the Administrative Director. The structures and functions of the University Board of Directors and the other organizational units are regulated by the Universities Act. The University of Bern offers about 39 bachelor and 72 master programs, with enrolments of 7,869 and 4,425, respectively. The university also has 2,648 doctoral students. Around 1,575 bachelor, 1,566 master's degree students and 534 PhD students graduate each year. For some time now, the university has had more female than male students; at the end of 2014, women accounted for 56% of students.
Unlike other universities, the University of Bern does not have a single large campus on the edge of the city, but has consistently pursued the principle of a university in the city. Most institutes and clinics are still in the Länggasse, the traditional university district adjoining the city centre, and within walking distance of one another. The University has won many awards for its intelligent, ecological and sustainable use of old buildings. For instance, the Faculty of Theology and various institutes in the Faculty of Humanities are now housed in an old chocolate factory (the Unitobler), and in 2005 the former women's hospital was refurbished to serve as a university centre for institutes in the Faculty of Law and Department of Economics (the UniS). The vonRoll site, another former factory building, is in the process of being refurbished to house the Faculty of Human Sciences and the Department of Social Sciences.
History of the University of Bern
Early history - from the "Hohe Schule" to the Academy (1500-1834)
The foundations of the University of Bern were laid in the 16th century, when the Reformation made it necessary for new priests to be educated in a higher education establishment. In 1805, as part of the reorganization of higher education, the Bern government converted the former School of Theology into an Academy with four faculties. Thus, not only ministers but also lawyers and physicians could complete their entire education in Bern.
The old university - new beginnings and growth (1834-1900)
In the struggles between Conservatives and Liberals during the regeneration, 1831 saw the Liberals gain victory in the Canton of Bern. Under their administration, the Academy was transformed into a university in 1834. 45 lecturers provided education to 167 students. The new administration relied upon loyal public officials and academics and so, to begin with, entry requirements were kept to a minimum. This also enabled people from other social classes to gain access to higher education. Because of the political situation, higher education institutions could only develop more steadily after the federal state was established in 1848. In 1885, the number of students exceeded 500 for the first time and by the turn-of-the-century, this figure had already doubled. As a result, the University of Bern was Switzerland's largest university at that time. Foreign students were responsible for the rapid growth. They formed half of the student population, most of them coming from Germany and Russia. They included female Russian students, who broke new ground for women's studies after 1870.
The new university - relocation and consolidation (1900-1950)
In parallel to the City of Bern's prosperity, the end of the 19th century saw the expansion of the higher education institution. The Länggass district was now home to various new university departments: consequently, in 1903, the new main building was officially opened on the Grosse Schanze. The number of faculties also increased. In 1874, the Faculty of Independent Catholic Theology was opened as a reaction to the papal dogma of infallibility. The natural and social sciences, already drifting apart, separated in 1921 into the Faculty of Science and Humanities. In 1908/09, three personalities were responsible for eventful times at the University of Bern. In 1908, Albert Einstein began teaching theoretical physics for three semesters. In the following year, the Russian philosopher Anna Tumarkin was appointed as a professor and, consequently, the first lecturer in Europe able to accept doctoral and professorial students. And in 1909, the surgeon Theodor Kocher received the Nobel Prize for medicine. In subsequent years, Bern consolidated its position as a small cantonal higher education institution with around 2000 students.
The modern university - expansion and organization (1950-2000)
The 1950s saw increased demand for the enlargement of the academic and technical sector of education. There were already 5000 students at the university in 1968, who were also widely spread across different locations. This rapid growth forced a revision of the University Law. A solution was only found when a partially revised law was passed in 1989. The results included a new Executive Board of the University of Bern with a term of office of several years for the Rector and Vice-Rectors and the formation of interfaculty institutions. In 1996, a modern and fully revised University Law came into force. This transformed the University of Bern from a management department run by the Minister of Education into an autonomous institution and a separate legal entity. The Law also resulted in a service agreement between the higher education institution and the state, which clearly defined responsibilities. In 1992, the university exceeded another milestone as student numbers increased to more than 10,000.
Today's university - Bologna reform and reorganization (from 2000)
The Bologna Declaration heralded the era of ECTS points and bachelor's and master's degrees. Research focuses, such as Climate Sciences, were strategically specified and cooperations across the university were encouraged. The faculties within the university regrouped. In 2001, the Catholic and the Evangelical Faculties of Theology joined to become the Faculty of Theology. In contrast, the Faculty of Law and Economics split into two separate faculties. In 2005, Psychology, Education and Sport Science merged to become the Faculty of Human Sciences. In 2009, the University of Bern celebrated its 175th anniversary by putting on more than 50 events for the wider public. In the summer of 2010, the partially revised University Law was passed. As a result, the Senate can also have its say regarding members of the Executive Board of the University of Bern together with the governing council and can make its own selection of full professors on the Executive Board of the University of Bern, on its own account and separately from the state.
Institutional accreditation is a formal procedure for determining that higher education institutions meet minimum quality requirements (e.g. quality criteria). It is conducted using the accreditation guidelines set out by the Swiss University Council. Depending on the degree to which a higher education institution meets the requirements, the Swiss Accreditation Council may deem it to be accredited, accredited under the condition that certain conditions be met within a defined time period, or not accredited. Universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education must be accredited in order to satisfy description legislation, to secure federal funding, and to apply for voluntary program accreditation.
Medical degree programs are accredited according to a special law. The programs offered by the University of Bern that fall under this law are the Bachelor and Master of Medicine, the Bachelor and Master of Dental Medicine and the first two years of study for Pharmacy.
According to the best known international university rankings, the University of Bern is one of the top 200. The University acknowledges the rankings and monitors their development. Nevertheless, the results of the rankings are not decisive for the university's quality management (QAD).
The method of evaluation by which a university is rated differs from ranking to ranking. The overall rating is usually based on the weighting of somewhat controversial indicators. It is mainly statistical data regarding students, staff and finance as well as bibliometric key figures and reputation scores that are being used. Amongst the most renowned rankings are the 'Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities', the 'THE World University Ranking' and the 'QS World University Ranking'.
Student life @the University of Bern
To help you plan your stay, we have listed the estimated monthly living expenses:
|Expenses for||around CHF per month|
|Accommodation (potential additional costs: telephone, internet, Billag*)||620 - 800|
|Health / medical insurance||180 - 400|
|Food, household goods||400 - 500|
|Miscellaneous||100 - 300|
|TOTAL||1,500 - 2,200|
* Every household in Switzerland is obligated to register their receiving devices and pay the radio and television fees. Your fees contribute to the public service offered by radio and television broadcasting in Switzerland. You have to register your receiving devices with Billag even if you pay for cable TV in your ancillary costs.
The city of Bern
Internationally, Bern is one of the cities with the highest quality of life. The friendly and relaxed mentality of the Bernese people, the beautiful medieval town, now a protected UNESCO site, the impressive Alpine panorama as well as a rich cultural program are all characteristic of the Swiss capital with its approximately 139,000 inhabitants. It is without doubt the mix of the traditional and the modern that lends Bern its particular charm. Many green areas invite you to sit down and relax, and for many bathing in the River Aare has become a daily ritual in the summer. Thanks to its central position, Bern is a splendid starting point for trips to the Alps and the Bernese Oberland in both summer and winter. From Bern, you can discover virtually the whole of Switzerland in day trips.
Culture, leisure time
Thanks to the 6 km of Lauben, as the Bernese call their arcades, Bern has one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe. Alongside this, the capital also offers a wide range of cultural activities: The City Theater (Stadttheater) is well known for its innovative music and stage productions. But the curtain goes up on many a small theater too. The city is particularly well known for art: The Zentrum Paul Klee houses the world's largest Paul Klee collection and enjoys great international recognition; the art museum (Kunstmuseum) exhibits pieces of classical modernity and the art exposition hall (Kunsthalle) work by contemporary artists. Many students find the Einstein House inspiring. This is where Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein developed the basis of his relativity theory. Throughout the year, there are various dance, jazz and other festivals. There are plenty of music bars and clubs offering something to suit everyone. On balmy summer evenings there is a wide range of concerts taking place in the parks and alleyways - and of course there is always the legendary open-air Gurten music festival (Gurtenfestival) on Bern's local mountain. Just a short distance away are the town woods where you can enjoy a relaxing walk. And of course there is always the River Aare, the perfect place to enjoy a cool swim in the summer. Throughout the year you can reach the numerous skiing and hiking areas of the Bernese Oberland in just one to two hours.