The University of Cologne (German Universität zu Köln) is one of the oldest universities in Europe and, with over 44,000 students, one of the largest universities in Germany. The university is part of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a society of Germany's leading research universities. Furthermore, it is the German representative and founding member in the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS).
The University of Cologne was established in 1388 as the fourth university in the Holy Roman Empire after Charles University of Prague (1348), the University of Vienna (1365) and the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg (1386). The charter was signed by Pope Urban VI. The university began teaching on January 6, 1389. In 1798, the university was closed by the French, who invaded in 1794, because the professorate refused to swear an oath on the French republic and wanted to keep the independence of the university. However, the last rector (Ferdinand Franz Wallraf) could hide and preserve the University seal.
At that point, the university was composed of the School of Management, Economics and Social Sciences (successor to the College of Trade and College of Community and Social Administration) and the School of Medicine (successor to the Academy of Medicine). In 1920, the School of Law and the School of Philosophy were added, from which the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences split in 1955. In 1980, both Cologne departments of the Rhineland School of Education were joined to the university as the College of Pedagogy and College of Special Education.
It is a leader in the area of economics and regularly placed in the top three for law and management.
In 2005, the University enrolled 47,203 students, including 3,718 graduate students. In 2003, the number of post-doctoral students was 670.
The number of international students was 6,157 in the Summer Semester of 2005. This amounts to approximately 13% of the total students. Those from developing countries made up about 60%, representing a total of 123 nations. The largest contingents came from Bulgaria (10.5%), Russia (8.8%), Poland (7.4%), China (6.2%) and Ukraine (5.7%).
There are 508 professors at the university, including 70 women. In addition, the university employs 1,549 research assistants, with an additional 765 at the clinic, and 1,462 other assistants (3,736 at the clinic).