University of Witten-Herdecke

Youths at information day "Market of Possibilities" at University of Witten-Herdecke
Large Crowds at the "Market of Possibilities"

The University of Witten-Herdecke is the first private, state-recognized university in Germany. The university is founded on the conviction that education should be free and autonomous - an ideal that the university's founders considered to be insufficiently implemented at the state universities in the late 1970s and which they decided to realize independently. In 1982 the university received state recognition.

Over 1600 students study in departments of medicine, dental medicine, culture and business. A very low teacher-to-student ratio allows for students and educators to engage each other in intense discussions. The university is also closely networked with numerous companies and institutions; this ensures that training and education are closely linked with practical application. The core of the university's identity is formed by the “Studium Fundementale,” where students at all levels participate in interdisciplinary seminars and exercises in a variety of different fields. Students can freely decide between cultural studies and social sciences, philosophy, aesthetics and arts, or training in communicative skills. There are also opportunities for interdisciplinary and cultural projects. This ensures that education is a holistic endeavour.

Reform in medicine and medical education were of special importance to the university's founders. The degree programme in Human Medicine expands the natural science perspective to include new findings and treatment methods as well as a more person-focused assessment of the individual in need of treatment. Medical training has been designed to be more practice-oriented and patient-centred. The Software AG Foundation, which supports the academic development of complementary medicine with a special focus on anthroposophic medicine, has been supporting the University of Witten / Herdecke since 2002. The foundation funds an academic chair in Medicine Theory, Integrative and Anthroposophic Medicine - the only one of its kind in Germany. The chair is associated with the Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus Herdecke, a well-known private hospital with an anthroposophic orientation. In addition to the standard programme in human medicine, students can also complete an integrated programme in anthroposophic medicine that results in qualification as an anthroposophic doctor.

As this academic chair requires a functioning university administration for its existence and since the Software AG Foundation also supports the academic mission of the university, the foundation became a major investor in the university in 2009, and has been a majority shareholder since 2013. With this degree of investment, the foundation can and will play an active role in the future shaping of the university.