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Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

A Brief Portrait of the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg

Not only is Albert-Ludwig University physically located in the heart of the city of Freiburg - its students, professors, and staff are also an integral part of daily life in the ‘Capital of the Black Forest’. This is also one of the reasons why Freiburg has become such a popular place to study. Aside from the numerous leisure activities which may be enjoyed in and near the city and its proximity to the Alsace and Switzerland, it is above all the variety of academic progams which attracts so many students to Freiburg. The university boasts a variety of degree programs in any of more than 60 fields in 11 colleges.

The 11th college, the College of Applied Sciences recently celebrated its inception on the airfield campus. It includes “Computer Science” and “Microsystem Technology”.

Upon its foundation in 1457, the university already offered courses of study at the Colleges of Theology, Law, Medicine, and Humanities. Matthäus Hummel, the first rector of the university, chose the leitmotif, “science has built itself a house”, for his inaugural address. Archduke Albrecht VI of Western Austria, on the other hand, had the education of young law and theology students for governmental posts and the church in mind when founding the university. Following the integration of the Jesuits into the faculty in 1620, the University of Freiburg developed into a bastion of Catholic doctrine. The resulting restrictions in the curriculum were not lifted until Empress Maria Theresa introduced an educational reform which opened the way to new academic fields.

Grand Duke Ludwig insured the continued existence of the University of Freiburg in the unstable times at the beginning of the 19th century. From this point on the university has carried the names of its two benefactors in its name in gratitude to their generosity. The foundation of the Prussian Empire brought about an increase in enrollment. As a result of the influx of students from northern Germany, the university soon expanded well beyond its medieval walls. Between 1870 and 1885 enrollment increased from 200 to 1000 students, and by 1904 there were already 2000. Each of these milestones was commemorated and celebrated by the city. Today more than 19,500 students are enrolled at the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg.

With humanities and the University Library in the city center, the Natural Sciences Campus (Institutsviertel) in the north, and the large University Hospital at the west end of the old city, the university has grown together with the city. The recent acquisition of a 40 hectare area on the grounds of the airfield assures that it will be able to continue to do so in the future as well.

The 15 colleges of the University of Freiburg include theology, law, economics, medicine, humanities (four colleges), mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and pharmacy, earth sciences, forestry, and applied sciences.

The College of Mathematics comprises the entire spectrum of mathematical disciplines. In physics research there is an emphasis on nuclear physics and high-energy and elementary particle physics. Freiburg is one of the most important centers for interdisciplinary polymer research. The pioneering research of the Freiburger Nobel Prize recipient Hermann Staudinger in the fields of organic and macromolecular chemistry formed the basis for the development of synthetic materials.

The College of Biology is also engaged in a wide spectrum of research. The tradition of developmental biology, initiated by world renowned biologists such as Weismann, Spemann, and Oehlkers, forms the basis of modern genetic research. Research at the College of Earth Sciences focuses on current problems, such as the procural and management of natural resources, man’s usage of them, and the protection of raw materials and the environment. Such research requires on-site examination and measurements, as does the research of the College of Forestry, which conducts extensive research on the causes and consequences of forest sicknesses.

The College of Medicine enjoys an excellent international reputation thanks to its wide range of theoretical work in experimental and clinical research. Nearly 8000 nurses, doctors, and other employees work at the University Hospital, which has been expanded to a full service hospital with 1900 beds and 13 specialist clinics.

The humanities have a long and illustrious tradition at the University of Freiburg. Many outstanding accomplishments in the fields of philosophy, history, and the philology of various European languages are accociated with the names and publications of scholars from Freiburg. The entire spectrum of jurisprudence is cultivated at the College of Law, including the three major areas civil law, criminal law, and public law. The College of Economics, associated with the names Walter Eucken, who founded the moderately liberal “Freiburg School”, and Noble Prize recipient Friedrich August von Hayek, focuses mainly on policital economy. The University Library, built in 1978, offers a wide range of information in many academic fields. More than three million volumes are available for checkout – shelved next to one another that would make a 56 kilometer row of books! Last year more than 20,000 patrons made use of this vast collection of books, videos, CD ROM’s, and databases.

The Studium Generale program, conceived for the benefit of the citizens of Freiburg as well as for students, organizes lecture series featuring scholars and artists. Especially remarkable is the fact that more than 3000 or about 16 % of the students at the University of Freiburg are international students. Foreign languages are heard at the University of Freiburg even more often in the summer. This is due to the international summer courses, which have taken place here since 1911.

Freiburg is located in the heart of a well-known wine region, and even the university may be counted among the vintners: A result of donations many years ago, the university owns vineyards on the nearby Kaiserstuhl and Tuniberg. Each year a tasty “Uni-Wein” is produced on these vineyards. However, wine does not enjoy the same importance for students in Freiburg as it did for members of student fraternities in the Middle Ages. For them, deprival of wine at mealtimes was considered an especially harsh punishment. To compensate for the epicurian delights of Baden’s cuisine, students and employees of the university can take advantage of the Recreational Sports program, which offers courses in 35 kinds of sport and physical fitness.

The university plays an important roll in the cultural, social, and economic life of the city. With approximately 13,000 employees, the university and the University Hospitial are the largest employer in the region of Southern Baden. The future is also a major concern at the University of Freiburg. The “Institute of Computer Science and Society”, for example, studies the effects of the new forms of information technology on society. The university has diversified itself with two additional centers as well: The French Cultural Center conducts research and offers continuing education courses in French studies, and the Center of Material Research (FMF) works to find practical applications for pure research.

In addition, as a founding member of the “European Confederation of Universities on the Upper Rhine” (EUCOR) along with the Universities of Basel, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Karlsruhe, the University of Freiburg has given new impetus to the integration of the various systems of higher education in Europe.

Freiburg as a Center of Research

The university is not the only research institution in Freiburg. The State School of Music, the College of Education, and Catholic and Protestant Colleges of Social Studies play a part in the academic life of the city as well. Research plays an important role in Freiburg even outside of its educational institutions: There are five Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research institutions in Freiburg and two Max Planck Society institutes, several of them connected with chairs at the university. The researchers in charge of these institutes are also professors of the University of Freiburg. Each of of these professors enjoys an excellent reputation in his or her academic field, whether at the Max Planck Institute of Foreign or International Criminal Law or the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology. Research in Freiburg: With a total of 30,000 students and approximately 16,000 employees at institutions engaged in everything from pure to applied research, Freiburg is a research center of international significance.


Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
79085 Freiburg im Breisgau
Tel: +49 (0)761/203-0
Fax: +49 (0)761/203-4369

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