Model Gesamthochschule Wuppertal

Educational Horizons

This wooden model from the year 1974 depicts the Gesamthochschule Wuppertal. It is typical of a Gesamthochschule, or so-called comprehensive university, a new form of higher education at the time: the buildings are arranged on a campus that is practical, flexible and expandable if needed.

In 1972, five towns in North Rhine-Westphalia simultaneously opened comprehensive universities: Essen, Duisburg, Paderborn, Siegen and Wuppertal. The Distance Learning University of Hagen added another unique university to the mix in 1974, giving North Rhine-Westphalia the densest higher education network in Germany. More young people could now study near their place of residence – some, depending on the subject, already starting higher education upon completing Year 12.

In the 1960s, opportunities for a good education had been very unequally distributed. Young women as well as children from rural or working-class backgrounds had little chance of achieving a secondary school qualification or going to university, even if they had wanted to. The state government recognised that this had to change and made equal opportunities the central objective of its educational policy of the 1960s and 1970s. The comprehensive universities served this purpose, as did the new comprehensive schools. Since 1969, the latter allowed children to earn their secondary school qualification who previously would not have had the opportunity.