In 2000, one of the largest private foundations in Germany - the ZEIT-Stiftung Bucerius - founded the Bucerius Law School - the country's first private law school. What was their motivation?
For decades there had been a demand for the modernization of law studies in Germany. The Europeanisation and globalization of the economic and legal sectors in the 1990s made such reforms even more urgent. Concrete innovations in terms of content or a solution for overcrowded lecture halls remained absent.
The founders of Bucerius Law School wanted to create a law school that was to lead by example: close to legal practice, internationally oriented and excellent in research and teaching. The aim was to create a new type of law school that would realize the ideal of unifying research and teaching, and where committed teaching would be valued just as much as academic research. A structured academic curriculum that would create space for supplementary study content without prolonging the regular duration of studies.
Inspired and encouraged by this ambition of creating a single European higher education learning area ("Bologna Process"), these goals would be realized within an innovative framework previously unknown within the tightly structured, federally-regulated German legal education system.
The establishment of this kind of new law school was a huge gamble for a foundation that had no experience in running a university. Their courage paid off.
How does a university manage to permanently meet high demands and continue to strive for excellence? A groundbreaking decision was the introuction of a rigorous and elaborate selection process designed to examine the suitability of applicants for a challenging law degree as well as their individual motivation. This type of selection - which was hintherto unknown in German legal education - has turned out to guarantee permanently low dropout rates and high academic achievements.
A great degree of creative freedom, minimal bureaucracy and a variety of funding programs enable and stimulate excellent teaching and research. Bucerius Law School sees itself as a particularly attractive place for motivated and committed law students, legal scholars and trainees. The result is a place of creativity and mutual inspiration.
The special spirit of our law school is made up by a community whose members deem their personal success in study and research and the success of the law school as a whole, a common goal.
The students, the foundation and the large network of sponsors and donors form a strong community, which also finances the law school and the special range of courses it offers. The introduction of tuition fees was a courageous step in a country where free access to tertiary education is a matter of course. The founders were convinced that tuition fees would serve as a quality guarantee and would be the best way to create optimal study conditionss for motivated and talented students. The introduction of tuition fees notwithstanding, Bucerius Law School was and remains a non-profit institution.
In order to promote affordability and enable talented prospective students to benefit from Bucerius Law School's education regardless of their own financial means, the law school offers several scholarship programs ranging from grants to cover living expenses to partial and full tuition fee waivers.
The courage to change, which made the founding of our Law School possible in the first place, remains both a major incentive and commitment until this day. We face new challenges as digitalisation is shaping a change in studies and careers. Here too, Bucerius Law School is at the forefront of seeking new solutions to meet an ever-changing world.
Bucerius Law School feels committed to the vision of its founder, Gerd Bucerius, and to offer even more than just excellent teaching and research. It serves as a place to train open and critical young people who are willing to develop their talents and use their abilities to serve society and change it for the better. The diverse social, political and societal commitment of our students shows us that we are on the right track.
"Gerd Bucerius would have been thrilled about Bucerius Law School. Only one thing would perhaps bother him, since he was a very modest man: that it bears his name."