Vienna University

(Universität Wien)


From the very beginning, we planned to hold the convention at the premises of Vienna University, either in a lecture auditorium of the historic Main Building, in the New Institutes' Building, or in the Campus (which is within a few minutes' walking distance of the two former).  In each one of these places state-of-the-art technology is available for multimedia presentations.  Using the University's infrastructure permits us to keep the registration fee within reasonable limits.  In particular, it will be possible to offer a moderate student's fee.  Another big advantage, especially in a scenic city like Vienna, is that participants are not more or less limited to the confines of a convention hotel.  Last not least holding the PA Convention within the University compound will result in the side effect of fostering the academic integration of parapsychology.

As our convention will take place there it appears appropriate to take a closer look at Vienna University -- both its history and its present state -- and at least to mention other academic institutions in Vienna.


Academia in Vienna: 

The entrance of the Main Building

[Click on picture to enlarge]
Founded in 1365, Vienna University (Universität Wien) is the oldest university in the German-speaking world1, and it is the largest and most important institution of higher education and research in Austria. 


The University of Vienna was founded by Duke Rudolph IV of Habsburg called "Rudolph the Founder" in 1365, the year of his early death.  Two decades later, the university -- named after its founder "Alma Mater Rudolphina" -- had its own building and statutes.

The official seal of the University of Vienna


In the eighteenth century, Austrian Empress Maria Theresia reformed the university considerably by introducing state-appointed directors of studies and limiting academic freedoms to a great extent.  After 1783, German officially replaced Latin as the language of instruction, and the requirement of wearing academic robes was abandoned.  Professors and students regained academic freedom during the Revolution of 1848, which provided the foundations for a far-reaching academic reform.  In 1867, a law of constitutional status was passed that made the academic freedoms of "Wissenschaft und Lehre" -- the scholarly pursuit of knowledge and education in the broad sense of the word -- fundamental rights. 

At the turn of the century, women were admitted to the University of Vienna -- first to the Faculty of Philosophy, then to others, and during the first two decades, the University built numerous buildings to house the growing size and number of its institutes.  In 1938 the Nazis took over the University and expelled Jews and political opponents from the faculty and student body. 

The historical Main Building

[Click on picture to enlarge]
Immediately after the end of World War II, in May 1945, the University re-opened under exceptionally difficult circumstances.  It took several years to repair the Main Building, which had been severely damaged during the war.

A few years ago, the large area of the former General Hospital of Vienna -- a historic complex founded by the Emperor Joseph II in 1784, some buildings even dating back from 1693 -- has been handed over to the University and was subsequently transformed into the "Campus"2 that has eventually been opened in 1997/98.  (This is where the convention is to be held.)

A Historical Tour of the University of Vienna
Nobel Laureates from the University of Vienna
[Links open in new windows.]

        View general map of Main Building, New Institutes' Building, 
        and Campus

        View detailed map of Campus


Approximately 70,000 students from Austria and 127 other countries are currently enrolled at the University of Vienna that offers 130 degree programs (Master and Doctoral) delivered through its (until recently) eight Faculties and 190 Institutes.  Some 5,000 full, associate, and assistant professors and university staff are engaged in teaching, research and administration; Vienna University occupies more than 200,000 square meters of space in a total of almost 100 buildings located in various areas of Vienna.

Location of Main Building:
in immediate proximity to the "Schottentor" Station (tram n° 1, 2, D, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44; subway line U2; bus n° 1A -- see also the Section on Public Transportation).

The eight (now seven) Faculties3:
       Faculty of Catholic Theology
       Faculty of Protestant Theology
       Faculty of Law 
       Faculty of Social Sciences and Economics
       (Faculty of Medicine)
       Faculty of Integrated Studies
       Faculty of Humanities
       Faculty of Formal and Natural Sciences

University Library:  
Vienna University has the oldest (600 years) and largest university library in Austria, where students have access to more than five million books and 22,700 periodicals. Numerous valuable collections and medieval manuscripts also are part of the Library's holdings.

International Cooperation: 
The University is a member of the ERASMUS / SOCRATES network (made up of 263 institutions) and has partnership agreements with 25 other universities. 
Vienna University and its faculties and institutes have numerous cooperative agreements with corresponding foreign institutions.  Almost every institute maintains a network of international contacts that facilitate scholarly communication and the exchange of knowledge. 

University Orchestra: The University Orchestra was established a few years ago and provides students with an opportunity to perform symphonic masterpieces.

Besides Vienna University, the City of Vienna was home to seven other Universities:

       Vienna University of Technology
       University of Agricultural Sciences
       Vienna University of Economics and Business
       University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
       Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
       University of Applied Arts Vienna
       University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
Links open in new windows.]
       The new "Medical University" needs to be added to this list now --
          see below.

Latest Developments

Last year4, a law has been passed for a reorganization of the Austrian universities that will bring along incisive changes, the most important one perhaps the spin-off of the hitherto Medical Faculties and the creation of stand-alone Medical Universities.  In future, there might be 14 faculties and two centers but a reduced number of institutes or working groups:

Sciences:  five faculties (mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth science/geography/astronomy, and life science/biology)
Humanities:  two faculties (historical-cultural and philological-cultural)
Divinity:  two faculties (roman catholic and protestant)
One faculty each:  law, economics, social sciences, computer science, and philosophy/psychology/pedagogics
Two Centers (sports/sports sciences and translating/interpreting)

At the time of the PA Convention 2004 all these changes will have been implemented partly or even fully, yet as a starting point the "Medical University of Vienna" has just5 been established, the head office of which being located within the a/m Campus (= the Old General Hospital complex).

1) The oldest university in Central Europe is the Charles University of Prague, founded in 1348 under the Habsburg ruler Charles IV., then Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia.  Thus Charles University became the oldest German University; to be divided into a German and Czech branch only in 1882.  This dual arrangement lasted until 1939.  Due to these political developments, Vienna University, the second one in chronological order, became the oldest one in what is now the German speaking area, followed by Heidelberg (1386), Cologne (1388), and Erfurt (1392), and ten more during the 15th century.

2) At variance with the use of the term "Campus" in other countries, the Vienna University Campus does not contain living quarters.  However, apart from the University institutes, lecture auditoriums, etc., there are several restaurants and pubs (partly open air) located within the Campus, and so is a super market. 

3) The days of the tradtional organization by faculties are numbered.  A new structure replacing the old faculties is planned comprising some 30 major departments.

4) July 2002.

5) October 2003.