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History of the University of Bayreuth


After the decision for its founding in 1972, the University of Bayreuth began teaching and studying in 1975. Since then, the campus university of meanwhile seven faculties has developed dynamically, and is now firmly established in the Bavarian, German, and international education and research landscape.

On 5 November 1969, the Bayreuth City Council decided to deal with the economic stagnation and the migration trends in north-eastern Bavaria resulting from its location close to the borders with the GDR and Czechoslovakia. Accordingly, various measures were necessary in order to initiate effective structural improvement that would guarantee living conditions equivalent to those in the rest of Germany. In this context, the City Council unanimously applied for the establishment of a university in Bayreuth. 

On 19 March 1970, a university association was founded, whose membership quickly grew to 800. Besides Bayreuth, Bamberg, Coburg, Landshut, Passau, and Ingolstadt also applied as locations for a university or college. Members of all parties represented in the Bavarian state parliament, the District Parliament of Upper Franconia and numerous public figures campaigned for the construction of the University. On 16 July 1970, they achieved a Landtag resolution according to which the next Bavarian state university was to be built in Bayreuth. In 1971, the Science Council recommended that the University be included in the measures contained in the Higher Education Construction Promotion Act. 

The University was established by the Bavarian Parliament on 1 January 1972 as the seventh Bavarian state university. The site chosen was the former parade ground south of the Kreuzstein and Birken districts. The office of the University of Bayreuth began its activities in 1972, initially in the "Stenohaus" (House of German Shorthand) on Luitpoldplatz, which had been built by the National Socialists. In October 1973, Founding President Klaus Dieter Wolff took office. The laying of the foundation stone followed on 23 March 1974, and on 27 November 1975, Minister of Education Hans Maier opened the University of Bayreuth with a focus on natural sciences with a state ceremony in the Margravial Opera House.

1975 - 1985

In the winter semester of 1975/76, the University of Bayreuth began research and teaching operations with 632 students, 24 professors, and one female professor. Initially, the University offered diploma courses in biology and mathematics, as well as teacher training for primary and secondary schools and for grammar schools (subjects: mathematics, physics, and sport).

The campus grew quickly: the first building was the "Natural Sciences Multipurpose Building", now Geosciences I, completed in 1975. It was followed by Geosciences II (1977), Natural Sciences I (1978), Humanities I (1980, today: Law II), and Natural Sciences II (1983). Bayreuth University also made progress in terms of catering: in 1977, the makeshift cafeteria (today: Glashaus) began operations, and in April 1983, the new cafeteria building was inaugurated.

In the summer of 1977, the Research Institute for Music Theatre Studies began its activities in Thurnau Castle. On 27 November 1981, the "Iwalewahaus" Africa Centre was opened in the former Margravial Mint in Bayreuth.

In connection with the expansion of the ecological focus and to support research and teaching in the area, the University of Bayreuth began setting up a large-scale Ecological Botanical Garden (ÖBG) soon after it began operations. Vegetation types from all over the world were recreated there, which was to enable profile-relevant research activities. At the same time, the concept included the novel aspect of public and recreational opportunities for the region. In 1978, ÖBG was founded, and in 1984 it was partially incorporated.

In the tenth winter semester, 1984/85, 4,512 students were enrolled at the University of Bayreuth. 

1986 - 1995

In 1986, the Bayerisches Geoinstitut (Bavarian Geoinstitute) was built, and in May 1987 the Institute for Sports Science and the Central Library were completed. The latter was officially opened in July 1988. This was followed by the Sports Centre (1988), Humanities II (1989, today: GW I), Central University Administration, the Upper Franconia Association for Student Affairs, and the Audimax (all inaugurated in 1994). In addition, the sixth Bayreuth faculty, the Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences (FAN), was established in 1995.

Things also progressed in terms of studies, research, and campus life. The first graduate college in Bavaria was established in 1987 under the name of "Plant-Herbivore Systems". In 1989, the first Women's Representative was appointed, and in 1991 the University's Symphony Orchestra was founded.

In the 1994/95 winter semester, 8,717 students were enrolled at the University of Bayreuth.

1996 - 2005

The campus continued to grow in the late 1990s/early 2000s. For example, FAN was opened in September 1998, followed by its inauguration in 2000. In April 2001, the Faculty of Cultural Studies moved from Bayreuth's Geschwister-Scholl-Platz to the newly constructed Humanities II building on campus. In October 2004, the laboratory building of the Bayreuth Centre for Colloids and Interfaces was inaugurated.

At the end of the millennium, the University once again considerably raised its profile by extending its research foci to nine and introducing the bachelor's and master's system in the 1999/2000 winter semester as part of the European degree programme reforms (Bologna Process).  The University Council held its constituent meeting in November 1998.

In the 2004/05 winter semester, 9,530 students were enrolled at the University of Bayreuth - after the numbers had temporarily dropped to 7,301 around the turn of the millennium.

2006 - 2015

In December 2006, the Bayreuth Centre for Material Science & Engineering (BayMat) was established, and in April 2007 the Bavarian University Centre for China (BayCHINA). In 2009, construction began on the Law I building (inaugurated: February 2012), and in January 2011 the foundation stone was laid for Natural Sciences III (inaugurated: July 2013). In addition, the Fraunhofer Centre for High Temperature Lightweight Construction (HTL) was built in 2012.

In 2007, a new, now well-established educational format was born: the University for Children, which took place for the first time that summer. In addition, FAN got a new name in 2013: The Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences became the Faculty of Engineering Science.

In 2011, the University of Bayreuth was the focus of media attention throughout Germany in the course of the plagiarism affair surrounding Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. On 23 February, the doctoral committee revoked his doctoral degree.

In the 2014/15 winter semester, 13,280 students were enrolled at the University of Bayreuth. There were a total of 147 degree programmes offered at six faculties and taught by 234 professors.

After its anniversary in 2015, the University of Bayreuth expanded its international contacts. In April 2016, a Gateway Office opened on the campus of the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) in China, in June 2018 one on the premises of the Australian-German Energy Transition Hub at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and in July 2020 one at the Université de Bordeaux in France.

In addition, the University of Bayreuth expanded the range of its offerings with another faculty. In 2019, Faculty VII of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition & Health was founded on a new external location in Kulmbach. By 2025, up to 1,000 people from different countries will study in Kulmbach, and 22 professorships will have been established.

In 2018 and 2019, two Collaborative Research Centres (CRC) received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG). Since 2018, CRC 225 "Biofabrication. From the foundations of biofabrication to functional tissue models" has been funded for a total of four years, and since 2019 CRC 1357 "Microplastics. Laws of formation, transport, physico-chemical behaviour and biological effects: From model to complex systems as the basis for new approaches to solutions", also for four years.

In 2025, the University of Bayreuth will celebrate its 50th anniversary. 

On 5 November 1969, the Bayreuth City Council decided to deal with the economic stagnation and the migration trends in north-eastern Bavaria resulting from its location close to the borders with the GDR and Czechoslovakia. Accordingly, various measures were necessary in order to initiate effective structural improvement that would guarantee living conditions equivalent to those in the rest of Germany. In this context, the City Council unanimously applied for the establishment of a university in Bayreuth. 

On 19 March 1970, a university association was founded, whose membership quickly grew to 800. Besides Bayreuth, Bamberg, Coburg, Landshut, Passau, and Ingolstadt also applied as locations for a university or college. Members of all parties represented in the Bavarian state parliament, the District Parliament of Upper Franconia and numerous public figures campaigned for the construction of the University. On 16 July 1970, they achieved a Landtag resolution according to which the next Bavarian state university was to be built in Bayreuth. In 1971, the Science Council recommended that the University be included in the measures contained in the Higher Education Construction Promotion Act. 

The University was established by the Bavarian Parliament on 1 January 1972 as the seventh Bavarian state university. The site chosen was the former parade ground south of the Kreuzstein and Birken districts. The office of the University of Bayreuth began its activities in 1972, initially in the "Stenohaus" (House of German Shorthand) on Luitpoldplatz, which had been built by the National Socialists. In October 1973, Founding President Klaus Dieter Wolff took office. The laying of the foundation stone followed on 23 March 1974, and on 27 November 1975, Minister of Education Hans Maier opened the University of Bayreuth with a focus on natural sciences with a state ceremony in the Margravial Opera House.

You want to know even more?

The University Chronicle from 1969 to 2015 provides a detailed overview of the development of the University of Bayreuth.