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In the Hochschulwerk, all enrolled students are members of the association. They meet at least once a semester as the General Assembly (MA) and have the final decision-making authority on all issues concerning the association. The AGM elects the Executive Board, the members of the Supervisory Board and the team of the Social Committee.
The Board is student-run and currently consists of three people, each of whom is responsible for specific areas of responsibility. These are university sports, culture/events and communication. The Executive Board manages the association ideally and strategically.
The management regulates the day-to-day operations and is responsible for finances.
The Supervisory Board controls the Executive Board and the management.
The Social Welfare Committee is an independent committee that reports to the General Assembly.
The Hochschulwerk is a non-profit, student-run association that aims to promote the non-academic life of students at Witten/Herdecke University. And it does so "in particular by:
- a) Establishment and operation of gastronomic facilities;
- b) Promotion and organisation of cultural and social interests of the students of the Private University of Witten/Herdecke gGmbH and the Unikat(club);
- c) Measures to promote health, in particular by offering sports activities;
- d) Provision of photocopying machines and services exclusively for students of the Private University of Witten/Herdecke gGmbH;
- e) Provision of merchandise products;
- f) Promotion of contacts among university members, with members of other universities and with persons and institutions in the university environment;
- g) Support of institutions of Witten/Herdecke University gGmbH in cooperation with the University, provided that these directly benefit the development of students, research or teaching;
- h) Support of students of Witten/Herdecke University gGmbH who are in financial need in accordance with the specifications of the Social Welfare Committee.".
The Hochschulwerk (HSW) was founded in 1986 by students of Witten/Herdecke University and has been recognised by the university administration since 07 March 1986. Thus, three years after the founding of Germany's first private university, the first private student union in Germany was also established. However, we deliberately do not call this student initiative Studierendenwerk, but Hochschulwerk, in order to emphasise that it is not a student interest group against the university, but part of a joint initiative. The most important goal was initially to continue the tradition of the "student help" of the 1920s. At that time, students and professors jointly introduced social funds to enable young people from all backgrounds to study.
The beginnings are modest: Under the leadership of eight board members, the HSW1986 had just 30 members, including Dr. Konrad Schily, President of Witten/Herdecke University and then Chairman of the University Association. In the meantime, the number of members has risen rapidly, which is of course also related to the growth of the university from about 200 students in 1986 to over 2,500 students now. The payment of a social contribution is now obligatory for all students.
Supporting students in social need is still a central part of the work of the HSW today and is mainly organised by the Social Welfare Committee. From the beginning, however, the HSW went beyond this important task, as it enabled a very general forum for the whole university, where teachers, learners and staff could meet in their interests and organise the creation and maintenance of a university infrastructure.