Hochschulgebäude Stella Maris (19. Jh.), Bildquelle: Otmar Elsener

History of the St.Gallen University of Teacher Education

Today’s St.Gallen University of Teacher Education dates back to 2007. At the time, the PHSG emerged from two predecessor institutions that were steeped in tradition: the Rorschach University of Teacher Education (PHR) and the St.Gallen University of Teacher Education (PHS). Both institutions have their own historical background and their specific significance in the history of the Canton of St.Gallen’s school system.

Rorschach University of Teacher Education (PHR)

In May 1999, the cantonal parliament adopted the Act concerning the Rorschach University of Teacher Education, which institution became operational in 2003. The education of kindergarten and primary school teachers was thus united in one single institution. The PHR included the former teacher training college, which had been founded as part of the St.Gallen Cantonal School (academic-stream secondary school) on an interdenominational basis in 1856.

In 1864, St.Gallen’s teacher training college moved into the Mariaberg real estate complex in Rorschach, which is still used by the PHSG today. In the 15th century, Mariaberg was originally built as a convent but never served this purpose. In the 17th century, it was home to an educational institution for the first time, namely a convent school including an academic stream.

After the turn of the millennium, the PHR had the additional use of the Stella Maris building complex, which from 1914 to the late 1980s had accommodated the Menzingen Sisters’ school for girls, which had been established in 1853. In 1990, the canton purchased the building from the nuns with the intention of setting up a school development and education centre. The school for girls was dissolved. The Stella Maris building is still used by the PHSG today.

St.Gallen University of Teacher Education (PHS)

In 1980, the St.Gallen cantonal parliament adopted the Act concerning the St.Gallen University of Teacher Education, an institution which was also recognised as a university by the Confederation in 1983. The PHS was the successor to the former secondary teacher training college, which had been run at the St.Gallen Cantonal School ever since 1867. Its curriculum provided cantonal school pupils with additional specialist knowledge in the field of technology but no pedagogical and didactic values. The professional subject of pedagogy was only introduced into the curriculum in 1872. 

The PHS was originally divided up among eleven locations and only moved into the listed Hadwig building in the mid-1990s. The building had been constructed as a primary school for girls in the early 20th century. Although there were initial boys’ classes in the primary school as early as 1919, mixed classes were only run in the Hadwig from 1952. In the 1970s, the number of pupils decreased, and the building was made available to the PHS.

In 2005, the domestic science teacher training college (AHLS), which had been situated in Gossau since 1981, was integrated into the PHS. The AHLS offered education for domestic science teachers at upper and primary school levels. In 2003, in the wake of an academic reform, the AHLS became an integral part of secondary school teacher education. The subjects creative design, domestic science, needlework and handicraft were now offered by the PHS and integrated into the regular curriculum. The PHS took over the school building in Gossau in March 2006.

Merger into the University of Teacher Education of the Canton of St.Gallen

On 18 February 2003, the cantonal parliament instructed the government to unite the two Universities of Teacher Education in St.Gallen and Rorschach by no later than 31 July 2007. This merger was intended to create one single University of Teacher Education at which kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and upper level teachers were to be educated.
On 23 February 2006, the cantonal parliament adopted the Act concerning the University of Teacher Education of the Canton of St.Gallen. The former President of the PHR and acting President of the PHSG, Prof. Dr. Erwin Beck, was appointed as the new President of the PHSG in June 2006.

Latest developments

On 1 September 2007, the PHSG became operational. It is committed to a continual and requirement-oriented extension of its courses. In 2008, for instance, the new MAS programme «Full-time vocational college teachers for vocational subjects» was introduced. Two years later, the MAS and CAS programme «General knowledge teaching» started. In 2012, these programmes for vocational college teachers were integrated into the PHSG’s core mission and have been run as diploma programmes ever since.

Further literature (German only)

Amt für Kulturpflege des Kantons St.Gallen (ed.). (1978). Mariaberg Rorschach. Festschrift aus Anlasse der Restaurierung 1969-1978. Rorschach: Verlag E. Löpfe-Benz. 

Bernhard, A. (1982). Rorschach. Ehemaliges Kloster Mariaberg heute Kantonales Lehrerseminar. St.Gallen: Amt für Kulturpflege des Kantons St.Gallen. 

Clivio, G. (1977). Geschichte der Lehrerbildung im Kanton St. Gallen. Kantonales Lehrerseminar Mariaberg Rorschach 1856-1977. St.Gallen: Kantonaler Lehrmittelverlag St.Gallen. 

Erat, R. (ed.). (2014). Chronik. 150 Jahre Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerbildung auf Mariaberg Rorschach. Rorschach: Stiftung Mariaberg.

Kantonales Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerseminar Mariaberg (ed.). (2003). Bildung auf Mariaberg. Einblicke, Ausblicke, Fragmente. Rorschach: Kantonales Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerseminar.

Lehrschwestern vom Heiligen Kreuz in Menzingen (ed.). (1954). 100 Jahre Stella Maris Rorschach 1854 – 1954. Rorschach.

Stickel, E. (ed.). (1995). Das Hochschulgebäude Hadwig, Ort des Lernens, Lehrens und Forschens. St.Gallen: Fachverlag für Wissenschaft und Studium.

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