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Expanding the University System (September 3, 1966)

The overcrowding of existing universities, the desire to create new types of higher education institutions, and the effort to improve regional education led (as in the case of the founding of the University of Bielefeld) to the expansion of the university system in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Where the Cows are still out to Pasture …
The contours of the Bielefeld alma mater are slowly taking shape

Bielefeld is impatiently preparing itself for its new role as a university town. The plot of land for North Rhine-Westphalia’s seventh institution of higher learning is already firmly in public hands and the chancellor-to-be, Freiherr von Medem, has already inspected his new sphere of influence with his wife and has started looking for a place to live.

But the state government in Düsseldorf – the sponsor and financial backer of the newest alma mater – is still on summer break. But even when the state capital goes back to work in a couple of weeks, it is likely that political disputes between the relatively weak government of Franz Meyers and the 99 members of the Social Democratic opposition (as well as the state’s financial worries) will force Bielefelders to remain patient.

And this although Westphalians have been waiting for their new university for years – all in order to restore the parity between their part of the state and the Rhineland. Ever since the [newly formed] hyphenated state of North Rhine-Westphalia was established by the English twenty years ago, Westphalians have always felt slightly neglected by the state government in the Rhine metropolis of Düsseldorf.

In their view, their second-class status was evident not least in the fact that Rhinelanders had their universities in Bonn and Cologne, while Westphalians only had a single college in Münster. University founder and Minister of Culture Paul Mikat finally [rectified the situation] by creating universities in [the Westphalian cities of] Bochum and Dortmund, but shortly thereafter he also awarded the Medical Academy in Düsseldorf the status of a university. But since the renaming of the Technical College in Aachen and the founding of East Westphalian University, the score has been 44 for the Rhineland and Westphalia.

Above all, the area of East Westphalia, in the northeastern reaches of the state, had been a bit neglected up to this point, which is why Bielefelders are now working particularly eagerly to pave the way for “their” university. “The bulk of the land is already ours at a fixed price. The only thing missing is state approval,” said Bielefeld’s municipal director [Heinz-Robert] Kuhn to this newspaper. Since no funds were allocated for the land purchase in this year’s state budget, the city will agree to provide “interim financing.”

The plot covers 75 hectares [i.e. approximately 185 acres], and there is currently a farm on it. As a “dowry,” the city is giving the state another farm with another plot of land, upon which the university’s “Development and Provisions Center” [Aufbau- und Verfügungszentrum] is supposed to be built. “The property is at the edge of a residential area and is connected to public utilities and ready for construction,” explained Kuhn. He added that construction has to start next spring if the first students are [supposed] to start classes in 1968 as planned.

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