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Introduction of the University-Entrance Examination [Abitur] in Prussia: Edict signed by King Frederick William III, State Chancellor Hardenberg, and Minister Friedrich von Schuckmann (October 12, 1812)

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§ 15. Those pupils who are found prepared for university studies in the unconditionally or conditionally competent way will be given notification that they can leave the school institution and advance to university. Those, however, who received the assessment of incompetence, will receive, upon revelation of this, the advice to continue attending school for a while yet, if there is hope that by doing so they can make up the missing elements. In case though that they do not accept advice against enrolling in university, they, too, shall be issued the results of the examination in the form of a diploma. [ . . . ]

§ 19. No student transferring from a domestic school to a domestic university can secure registration in the latter, if he has not in his possession a certificate from the school examination committee obtained and issued in the way stipulated above – which differs clearly from a mere testimonio morum et diligentiae [‘certificate of morals and diligence’].

§ 20. For those, however, which go to university from private tuition or not directly from learned schools, and who do not wish, for instance, to join the examinations at grammar schools, and with the aim of preventing a circumvention of the above regulations in light of the substantial number of grammar schools located overall in the three current university towns of the Prussian monarchy, every university town will see the establishment of an examination committee comprised of university professors and some or all principals or headmasters of the grammar schools located there. [ . . . ]

All universities, grammar schools, and learned schools of the Prussian state will have to follow this instruction closely, namely in such a way that one will already follow its procedure during the graduations of pupils and the university enrollments taking place at Easter next year. The church and school deputations of the provincial governments will, to the extent that they have to collaborate in it, be instructed to carry out its execution emphatically, to aim at its implementation with earnestness, and to heed it themselves as well.

Source: Friedrich Schultze, Die Abiturienten-Prüfung vornehmlich im Preußischen Staate [The Graduation-Examination, especially in the Prussian State], A: Urkunden Sammlung [Collection of Documentation]. Liegnitz [and Halle: Commission bei Eduard Anton], 1831, pp. 6-26.

Original German text reprinted in Walter Demel und Uwe Puschner, eds. Von der Französischen Revolution bis zum Wiener Kongreß 1789-1815 [From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna, 1789-1815], Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller, vol. 6. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1995, pp. 373-82.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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