Launched in 1970 as a reform university, the University of Augsburg is now firmly established in the Bavarian and German education and research landscape. The most recent milestone in its dynamic development in 2016 was the establishment of the Medical Faculty. In 2020, the university will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

 

Even before the University of Augsburg was founded in 1970, there was a university in the area of ​​today's Bavarian Swabia. In the town of his residence, Dillingen an der Donau, the Augsburg Bishop Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg established a university in 1551 as part of the Counter Reformation, which he placed under the supervision of the Jesuits in 1563. It existed until its dissolution in the context of secularisation in 1803. It was replaced by a lyceum, established in 1804, i. e., an academic institution between high school and university, which served primarily for the academic training of priesthood candidates, and from 1923 bore the name "Dillingen Philosophical and Theological College".

 

From its period as an imperial city to the last third of the twentieth century, Augsburg had several educational centres whose significance extended far beyond the city's boundaries, but not a university. The lyceum, established in 1834 and annexed a year later to the re-established Benedictine Abbey of St. Stephen, also could not hide the lack of an alma mater, especially since it was confined to philosophical studies. When the first technical college in Bavaria was founded in 1862, the application by Augsburg was unsuccessful, the bid being awarded to Munich.

 

Renewed concrete efforts to found a university in Augsburg came immediately after the end of the Second World War. But these attempts also failed quickly. The breakthrough finally came in the phase of educational expansion in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the decision of the Bavarian Landtag in 1962 to establish a medical academy in Augsburg was never realised, a second medical faculty was founded in Munich instead. However, the "alternative offer," of having a modern business and social sciences university in Augsburg based on the Anglo-American model ("Harvard am Lech"), was immediately met with great interest in the industrial city of Augsburg. To support the plans, a "Swabian University Board of Trustees" was formed in Augsburg on May 20, 1966 under the chairmanship of Joseph-Ernst Fürst Fugger von Glött. This included many officials and prominent people from politics, business and culture. The "Society of Friends of the University of Augsburg" emerged from this organisation in 1969. On July 12, 1966, the Bavarian State Parliament decided to found a university of business and social sciences, the concept for which was formulated by the Munich professor of comparative business administration, the Dutch-born Louis Perridon.

Grand opening of the University of Augsburg on 16th October 1970 © Fred Schöllhorn
Building site of the university campus in 1974/75 © Fred Schöllhorn
Aerial view on the first buildings, about 1977 Quelle: Staatliches Bauamt Augsburg

Even as the planning and concrete preparations for the new university were underway, new perspectives suddenly arose in the course of the reorganisation and regionalisation of higher education in the Free State of Bavaria, which now brought the foundation of a university within reach. Efforts were therefore made to integrate teacher training into the universities. This gave an opportunity to to the Augsburg College of Education to become affiliated as a faculty of a newly founded University of Augsburg. The College of Education had opened in 1958 and was legally affiliated to the University of Munich, and its origins could be traced back via the Lauingen Teacher Training Institute, specifically to the Dillingen Royal Schoolteacher Seminary that was established in 1824. . The Augsburg University plans were also supported by the efforts of Bishop Josef Stimpfle to continue to ensure the academic education of priesthood candidates within his own diocese and thus to re-establish the Dillingen Philosophical and Theological College as a separate Catholic theological faculty in Augsburg. In addition, there were plans for a reformed legal studies course, for the implementation of which a newly established institution readily lent itself. And finally, several faculties of the University of Munich were bursting at the seams in regards to the large number of students, which led the Bavarian Ministry of Culture to plan a provision of relief for the affected study courses in nearby Augsburg.

 

Beginning in 1966, from the original nucleus of a modern, reform-oriented business and social sciences university, the idea gradually developed into founding a university in Augsburg which would include several faculties. As Louis Perridon had formulated the concept for founding a university, he was consequently committed as a founding representative. Although the development was in the future, the announcement in fall 1969 by the Bavarian Minister of Culture Ludwig Huber regarding the creation of a university in Augsburg on January 1, 1970 still came as a surprise - especially since lectures in the Economics and Social Sciences Department were already supposed to begin in fall 1970. The founding law itself dates back to December 18, 1969.

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