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The Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen is one of Europe’s oldest universities. Several hundred years of history in the sciences and humanities have been written here. The University's history began in 1477, when Count Eberhard “the Bearded” of Württemberg founded the University. In Tübingen’s historical center there is hardly a building or a square that is not linked to a renowned scholar. Tübingen notables include Hegel, Hölderlin and Schelling, Mörike and Uhland, Johannes Kepler and Wilhelm Schickard.
Tübingen today remains a place of research and teaching. In addition to the nearly 85,500 inhabitants, there are some 28,300 German and international students. Some 4,500 academic staff teach at the University’s seven faculties. The latest chapter of the University’s history is marked by its success in the German federal and state governments’ Excellence Initiative. One Graduate School, one Excellence Cluster and the University’s Institutional Strategy were successful in the major funding program – also making Tübingen one of Germany’s eleven universities in the top “Excellent” class.
Tübingen is also home to eight collaborative research centers, is involved in five transregional collaborative research centers, and hosts six research training groups – all sponsored by the German Research Foundation. The University specializes in a number of innovative fields of research: Neuroscience, Clinical Imaging, Translational Immunology and Cancer Research, Microbiology and Infection Research, Molecular Biology of Plants, Environmental and Geoscience, Astro- and Elementary Particle Physics, Quantum Physics and Nanotechnology, Archaeology and Anthropology, Language and Cognition, Education and the Media. The excellence of our research helps create optimal conditions for students from all over the world. Research-oriented learning is a particular strength of Tübingen study programs, thanks to the close links between research and teaching.
Teaching at the University of Tübingen reflects the broad, interdisciplinary spectrum of its research. More than 280 courses are on offer. The University is open to the international exchange of academics and students. The University has partnerships with more than 150 educational institutions in 62 countries, particularly in North America, Asia and Latin America, as well as with all the countries in Europe. Some 18.9 percent of students in Tübingen come from abroad, and many of the University’s German students pursue part of their studies in another country. “International since 1477” – the perfect way to summarize the University of Tübingen.
- 1477 Founding of the original four faculties: Theology, Law, Medicine, Philosophy
- 1535/36 Founding of the Evangelische Stift school of divinity for Protestant Theology
- 1817 Founding of the Economics Faculty and the Faculty of Catholic Theology
- 1863 Founding of the first Faculty of Science at a German university
- 1979 The number of students tops 20,000 for the first time
- 1990 Founding of the Computer Science Faculty
- 1990 Founding of the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)
- 1999 Founding of the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP)
- 2000 Founding of the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
- 2007 Excellence cluster in the excellence initiative: Werner Reichardt Center for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN)
- 2012 Success in the German government’s Excellence Initiative with the new Graduate School on Learning, Educational Achievement, and Life Course Development (LEAD), the University’s Institutional Strategy, Research – Relevance – Responsibility, and continued sponsorship of the Center for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) Excellence Cluster.
How the University was founded and named
Eberhard the Bearded, Count and later Duke of Württemberg, set the tone when he founded the University of Tübingen in 1477 – displaying a farsightedness that characterizes the University to the present day. Eberhard Karls Universität helps to shape the state's intellectual life and contributes to its further development with internationally-recognized achievements.
The University got the official name it bears today – Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen – in 1769, when Duke Karl Eugen added his own name to that of the founder.
The University's history is closely tied to the Evangelische Stift, founded in 1536 as a school of divinity, teaching Protestant Theology. A number of famous names studied at the Evangelische Stift – Johannes Kepler enrolled in 1587; other students here include the poets and writers Hölderlin, Hauff and Mörike and the philosophers Hegel and Schelling.
At the start of the 19th century, the University experienced remarkable growth; due to its renowned professors, its reputation spread beyond the borders of Württemberg. In 1817, faculties of Catholic Theology and Economics were added to the original four, and in 1863 Tübingen became the first German university to have its own faculty of Natural Sciences. The first University hospital was set up in 1805 in the Alte Burse. That building, constructed in 1478, is the oldest still used by the University.
As the university's students make up roughly a third of the total population of Tübingen, the town's culture is to a large extent dominated by them. Consequently, there is a slump of activity during university holidays, particularly over the summer, when a large number of otherwise regular events do not take place.
Around 30 Studentenverbindungen, the German type of fraternities, are associated with the university. While famous for their parties, public academic lectures and the yearly "Stocherkahn-Rennen" punting-boat race on the Neckar river, some of them are the subject of ongoing controversy surrounding alleged rightwing policial views, leading to strong criticism from leftist groups. The university itself takes a neutral stance on this issue.
Also closely linked to the university are a number of student societies representing mainly the arts and political parties. Most notable are a number of choirs as well as student theatre groups affiliated with the faculty of Modern Languages, some of which perform in foreign languages. Radio Uniwelle Tübingen is the university's radio station, airing seven hours of programmes a week produced by students under the supervision of staff employed by the university.
The university also offers gym and sports classes called Hochschulsport. Since Tübingen has a department of sports science with a broad range of facilities, students of other subjects have the possibility to participate in various kinds of sports courses in teams or as individuals. Furthermore, even exotic sports, such as parachuting or martial arts, are offered. Students may attend courses either for free or at reduced rates. The sports department is located close to the Wilhelmstraße area of university buildings and is served by a number of frequent bus routes.
Unlike in some major cities, student discounts are not widely available in Tübingen. Cinemas and the town council's public library in particular do not offer discounts for students, and there are only a handful of restaurants which have reduced lunch deals. However, students may benefit from the Semesterticket, a heavily discounted public transport season pass offering six months of unlimited travel on trains and buses in the naldo Verkehrsverbund transport association for approximately €62.50. The Landestheater Tübingen theatre and all public swimming pools also have discounts for students.
Nightlife in Tübingen is centered on the numerous pubs in the old town along with a number of clubs, most of which dedicate themselves to non-mainstream music. During the semester, the Studentenwerk-owned Clubhaus at the centre of the Wilhelmstraße university area hosts the weekly Clubhausfest on Thursday nights. This popular, free-entry club night is organized and promoted by student societies and Fachschaft student representative bodies and all proceeds go towards their activities in support of students.
The University Library of Tübingen is not just available to those affiliated with the university, but also to the general public. The library provides more than three million individual volumes and more than 7,600 journals. Apart from the main library, more than 80 departmental libraries containing an additional three million volumes are also associated with the university.
The main lending library is located on Wilhelmstraße and consists of several different parts which are connected through corridors and walkways:
- The Bonatzbau, the library's oldest building, was built in 1912 and currently houses the historical reading room (Historischer Lesesaal), the university archive, along with a number of manuscript collections.
- The library's main building, constructed in 1963, contains the information desk and research stations to access electronic catalogues and databases.
- The Ammerbau is the most recent addition to the library complex. Built in 2002, it offers users direct access to over 300,000 volumes and latest issues of newspapers, magazines and journals. It also contains numerous work places and separate individual rooms for group work.