University in the Spotlight: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg
Heidelberg University, founded in 1386, is Germany’s oldest university and has one of the strongest research profiles in all Europe. The success in the German Excellence Initiative and in international university rankings document Heidelberg’s leading role in the scientific community. In terms of educating students and promoting promising early-career academics, the Ruperto Carola relies on its two strongest points: research-based teaching and well-structured training for Ph.D. candidates.
Heidelberg University is a comprehensive university, offering the full spectrum of disciplines in the humanities, law, the social sciences and the natural and life sciences, including medicine. As a comprehensive university, Heidelberg aims to continue to strengthen the individual disciplines and to further interdisciplinary cooperation, as well as to transfer research results into society and industry.
Dialogue Beyond Traditional Disciplinary Boundaries
The principle of a comprehensive university is a central component of their institutional strategy, “Heidelberg: Realising the Potential of a Comprehensive University”, with which Heidelberg University competed successfully in the Germany-wide Excellence Initiative. A particular interest of Heidelberg’s institutional strategy is the dialogue beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and the development of new forms of interdisciplinary cooperation. The Excellence Initiative enabled the Ruperto Carola to establish three Graduate Schools and two Clusters of Excellence, “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” and “Cellular Networks”.
Heidelberg also draws its strength from its cooperation with numerous local non-university research institutes. This cooperation underpins and extends Heidelberg’s position in national and international networks. An example of this is the alliance between the Ruperto Carola and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in the molecular life sciences.
Optimal Conditions for Undergraduates and Graduates Alike
A total of 30,800 students are enrolled in Heidelberg’s 12 faculties, including the two medical faculties in Heidelberg and Mannheim. With more than 160 different study programs, the Ruperto Carola offers an exceptionally large spectrum of subject combinations. The Graduate Academy provides consulting services and transferable skills courses for all doctoral students and ensures the high quality of the structured Ph.D. programs at Heidelberg University. In addition to three graduate schools in the natural and life sciences, which are funded by the Excellence Initiative, Heidelberg has established many research training groups and structured doctoral programmes in the humanities and social sciences.
Strong International Presence
Heidelberg University is tied into a worldwide network of research and teaching collaborations. Exchange programes for students and graduates have been established with more than 450 universities worldwide. Heidelberg’s marked global interconnectedness is also evidenced by its 20 university partnerships and its membership in European networks such as the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Coimbra Group.
Hundreds of research and teaching collaborations with international partners exist at faculty, institute and chair levels. A branch campus in Santiago de Chile, a liaison office in New York and a centre in New Delhi strengthen the university’s visibility in important target regions. Its international prominence is reflected in its student population: approximately 20 percent of Heidelberg’s students and a third of the enrolled Ph.D. candidates come from abroad. According to the latest DAAD survey, Heidelberg is the favoured German university for international doctoral candidates.
For further information please visit www.uni-heidelberg.de.
From an Alumna
Catherine Lenis, Clark University, University of Geneva
I studied abroad at the University of Geneva in Switzerland for the spring semester of 2012. I chose my destination based on the research offered at the University, not the location. Aside from having basic knowledge about the Geneva Conventions and Geneva’s UN and NGO presence, I knew very little about the city itself. This intrigued me as I was able to arrive in Geneva with an open mind. When visiting my friends who were also abroad in, for example London, I found myself projecting my prior beliefs and biases of that city onto my experience. While this could be fun, it also often tainted how I perceived my time there.
That being said, I did form an opinion of Geneva after living there for a semester! While many of my experiences were frustratingly bureaucratic, they were simultaneously well-run and organized. The trains were always on time, posted open and closing times of businesses were respected, and every task seemed to have a proper place and mode of action. While my semi-free spirit was often annoyed at this seemingly outlandish order and bureaucracy, the chocolate, scenery, and diverse group of people I was exposed to daily was ample compensation.
If I was to offer advice to a student thinking about studying abroad in Geneva, I would definitely encourage one to keep an open mind and to stay active. Enjoy the chocolate, go to local coffee shops, practice your French, and look at the local newspapers and websites to see what is happening in the city. I was able to attend a panel at the United Nations for International Women’s Day by just writing a short application online! Geneva has so much to offer - one just needs to be active in their search. There are many museums, talks, and cultural activities, all within reasonable walking or biking distance. My experience abroad was an unforgettable and wonderful learning experience, and I encourage students to place themselves in a new environment and immerse themselves!