University of Heidelberg

University of Heidelberg

University of Heidelberg. Created on the banks of the Neckar River, it was founded in 1386. It is not only the oldest university in Germany, but also the most attractive university internationally, with 20% foreign students (5,600) out of a total of 28,000 students. The university has 12 faculties.


Founded by Rupert I, it is located near the Neckar River, Heidelberg, Württemberg, Germany, with the aim of having in its territory faculties for the study of philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, and medicine. In its beginnings, it had 600 students spread over four faculties. Here the German elite of the Middle Ages were trained: doctors, theologians, jurists and teachers. The founder, who was the Elector of the Palatinate, was looking for professors from Prague and Vienna who moved to Heidelberg to teach.

German spiritual leaders sided with the successor in Rome, with consequences for German students and teachers in Paris: they lost their assignments and had to leave. The Elector of the Palatinate Rupert I saw the opportunity and initiated a dialogue with the Curia, which eventually led to the granting of the Papal Bull of Foundation, which can be considered as the creation of the University of Heidelberg.

In the year 1386, the month of October with a ceremony the opening of the doors of the university was celebrated. As motto, Marsilius von Inghen, the first rector of the university chose “Semper apertus” – the book of learning is always open. At that time Heidelberg could have no more than 3500 inhabitants and in the first year of the university’s existence it had about 600 enrolled. The first lesson was given on October 19, 1386. Thus, the University of Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany (the first German-speaking university to be established in the world was in Vienna in 1365).

Until the year 1803 its decline did not stop. In this year, the University was reestablished to the proper status of the institution by Carlos Federico I of Baden and since then his name is associated with that of Ruperto_I. The most influential student of this time was Karl Drais, inventor of the two-wheel principle with which the mechanization and later the motorization of personal transport began. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Ruperto Carlos embraced a very liberal and open-minded spirit that was especially encouraged by Max Weber, Ernst Troeltsch and a circle of colleagues around them. In the Weimar Republic, the University was recognized as a center of democratic thought, fostered by professors such as Karl Jaspers, Gustav Radbruch, Martin Dibelius and Alfred Weber. Unfortunately, there were opposing forces at work within the university: Nazi physicist Philipp Lenard was appointed director of the Physics institute during this time. Following the assassination of Walther Rathenau he refused to fly the national flag at half mast at the institute, which caused conflict with the communist students.

The University, like other German universities, supported the Nazis and lost its dissident professors. But after the Second World War 1939-1945, since the city was mostly spared from destruction, the rebuilding of the University was rapid. With the founding of the Collegium Academicum, Heidelberg would be the first place in Germany where a self-governed student cabinet was established, and it remains the only one today. Again the statutes obliged the University to “live spirit of truth, justice and humanism.”

During the 1960s and 1970s the university expanded greatly. On the outskirts of the city, in the area of ​​the Neuenheimer Feld, a large campus for medicine and natural sciences was built. The university developed slowly but was ultimately one of the grassroots cells for political unrest among students, resulting in student protests.

In 1975, a massive police intervention arrested the entire “AStA” student parliament. After this, the “Collegium Academicum”, a progressive university organization attached to the parent university campuses, was taken over by some 700 police officers and closed for good.

During the first and second Gulf Wars, the US Army Forces in Europe, located in the southern part of Heidelberg, were the target of several (peaceful) student demonstrations.

The German program for the promotion of scientific research and high-level academic activities, financed with federal and regional resources, carried out in 2007, a “contest of excellence” among the country’s higher education centers. Six universities from all over the country were winners, among which was Heidelberg, being distinguished with the Elite University label.


This University offers a wide spectrum of high-level careers in all scientific fields (except Engineering), conferring the full range of academic degrees from Magister Artium, Diploma or State Examination, Bachelor, Master, Doctor and PhD. Courses are usually taught in German, but some international postgraduate programs are taught in English.

Today, “Ruperto Carola”, as it is colloquially known, is a university center with a wide range of possibilities. Around 25,000 students are enrolled in Heidelberg in one of the faculties with more than 100 majors.

The concept of the future within the framework of the excellence initiative is to answer “the great questions of humanity”, and as in other elite universities, interdisciplinary training plays an important role. Research centers are created, such as the „Kolleg“ Marsilius, a Center for Advanced Studies, which is the meeting and discussion point for researchers belonging to various fields.

Student life takes place in the old part of the city. Many of the baroque buildings are university buildings. An advantage of this city that can be reached on foot are the short paths on the university campus and the rest areas on the banks of the Neckar as it passes through the city.


  • Theology
  • Right
  • Medicine
  • Philosophy
  • Philology
  • Economic and Social Sciences
  • Behavioral Sciences and Culture
  • Mathematicsand Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • geosciences
  • Physical
  • Astronomy
  • Biological Sciences.

Scientific personalities who studied at the University

  • Gustav Kirchhoff, physicist and Robert Bunsen, chemist
  • Philipp Lenard, Nazi Physicist and Nobel Laureate
  • Walther Bothe, Nobel Laureate in Physics 1954
  • Otto Haxel, co-inventor of the nuclear display model
  • Bert Sakmann, Nobel Laureate 1991
  • Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Laureate 2001
  • Theodor W. Hänsch, Nobel Laureate 2005
  • Fritz Haber, chemist, Nobel Prize 1918
  • Chemists Adolf Posselt & Reimann, who discovered in 1828 that nicotine is the most important active pharmacological ingredient, component of tobacco
  • Hans D. Jensen, physicist Nobel Prize winner 1963
  • Karl Jaspers, psychiatrist and philosopher
  • Bert Sakmann, cell physiologist, Nobel Laureate 1991
  • Otto Heinrich Warburg, physiologist and physician, Nobel Prize winner 1931
  • Otto Fritz Meyerhof, physicist and biochemist, Nobel Prize winner 1922
  • Georg Wittig, chemist Nobel Laureate 1979
  • Albrecht Kossel, physician, Nobel Prize 1910
  • Richard Kuhn, biochemist Nobel Laureate 1938
  • Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize winner 1913
  • Wilhelm Wundt, psychologist, father of psychology


  • Since 2007 it has the title of Elite University.
  • The University of Heidelberg is a pioneer in the internationalization of its postgraduate studies, being the first to establish a branch abroad.
  • One in five students is a foreigner

University of Heidelberg

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