Welcome to HoF – Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg


The Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg (‘HoF’ for its German name Institut für Hochschulforschung Halle-Wittenberg), was founded in 1996 and conducts analyses on developments of (a) higher education institutions (HEIs), (b) science and technology studies, and (c) tertiary education.

HoF receives basic funding from the state of Saxony-Anhalt and, as an affiliated institute, is associated with the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The director of HoF is Prof. Dr. Peer Pasternack.

HoF is the only institute conducting research on higher education in the territory of the former GDR. It can serve specialized project requests on topics related to the higher education (research) in the former GDR. Nevertheless, the institute is not limited to the investigation of regional developments. HoF’s research is guided by four axes:

  • Since 2006, the institute’s focus has been on studies of spatial relationships of higher education development in the context of demographic change.
  • Another long-standing key aspect are analyses of junior scientists, academic staff and career paths as well as gender equality.
  • HoF also consistently investigates questions of higher education organization and governance, quality development at HEIs as well as higher education and study reform models.
  • In addition, HoF is unique amongst German higher education research institutions in that it continuously devotes studies to the contemporary history of higher education, HEIs and science and technology.


HoF’s activity profile is contoured by five aspects:

  • Higher education research is not a discipline, but a field of research. This field is supported by public funds because it has to be actively developed: In order to increase the rationality of its corresponding decision-making processes, a type of knowledge is needed which is relevant for practical use. In this sense, HoF is situated in-between the fields of research and consulting, with research always preceedong consulting – not vice versa.
  • On the one hand, the higher education system forms the nexus between the system of education and that of science. On the other hand, it contributes to the coupling of the cultural and economic reproduction of a society. Thus, it has to accomplish the integration of four different systemic logics: (1) individual self-empowerment which is socially supported, i.e. education, (2) empirically driven generation of interpretations, explanations and corresponding options for action, i.e. applied science, (3) social orientation based on rationality, i.e. culture as well as (4) satisfaction of needs tied to available ressources, i.e. economy. Higher education research has to integrate these logics systematically.
  • Therefore, higher education research is an perpetual maneuver of interdisciplinary coupling. It receives its essential methodological and theoretical input from sociology, political science and pedagogy. Systematically, it is located between the partly overlapping research fields of pedagogy and science studies. It also has interfaces with public administration theory, law and economics in particular, but also with other interdisciplinary fields such as research on secondary education, labor markets and employment.
  • The interdisciplinarity of higher education research requires its own development of junior researchers. HoF meets this challenge by supporting doctoral projects. All its doctoral students are involved in research projects to foster their skills in methodology, theoretical approaches and provide them with an overview of the main topics of the research field.
  • HoF is the only institute conducting research on higher education in the territory of the former GDR. Since 2006, this focus has been integrated into the central research axis Spatial Relationships of Higher Education Development in the Context of Demographic Change.

Research Projects

For an overview of our ongoing and completed research projects, please follow this link (descriptions in German with English abstracts):


HoF publishes the journal die hochschule. journal für wissenschaft und bildung and publishes the series Hochschulforschung Halle-Wittenberg at Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag. Research reports are published as HoF-Arbeitsberichte. The series HoF-Handreichungen is dedicated to the transfer of scientific knowledge into the practice of higher education development.

Furthermore, the print newsletter HoF-Berichterstatter informs twice a year about the work at HoF. The electronic newsletter of the Institute for Higher Education Research (HoF) is sent out quarterly.

A large part of the publications can be downloaded from the institute’s website.

Scientific information service

HoF has a scientific information service with a specialized library and an information and documentation system on higher education and higher education research (ids hochschule):

  • The library has about 55,000 volumes and about 146 journals. As a special feature, there is an extensive collection on the GDR higher education system and on the higher education systems of  Eastern European countries. All titles of the specialized library can be searched via literature databases.
  • “ids hochschule” makes research results on higher education development accessible – with help from numerous partners from universities, higher education research institutions and specialized information institutions.


Lutherstadt Wittenberg is located in the east of Saxony-Anhalt, between Leipzig, Halle and Berlin. The establishment of the institute in Wittenberg was connected with the revitalization of the historic university location. In 1502, the Wittenberg University “Leucorea” had been founded. After more than 300 years, the location was abandoned in 1817 through the union with the university in Halle. In 1994, a foundation of the same name was established in connection with the historical “Leucorea”. Its premises house HoF and five other scientific institutions.