Open-minded by tradition: WU celebrates 125th anniversary


Founded in 1898, the Imperial Export Academy, a forerunner of WU, set new standards in higher education.

In 1898, Vienna was not only one of the largest cities of the world, but also a flourishing metropolis booming with life and business. The foundation of the Export Academy, WU’s innovative predecessor, set a milestone in teaching all things related to international trade. Today, 125 years later, the Vienna University of Economics and Business has evolved to one of the largest and most renowned universities in business and economics. On the occasion of WU’s 125th anniversary, we have come up with a diverse anniversary program for 2023.

Founded in 1898, the Imperial Export Academy set new standards in higher education thanks to its visionary teaching concept. In addition to commerce-related subjects and trade goods, the academy also offered courses on economics, economic geography, public and private law, as well as business language courses. Right from the start, the university offered practical courses with a focus on open-mindedness and internationality. The number of international students has always been very high. In 1919, the academy was renamed to University of World Trade (Hochschule für Welthandel). In 1975, it became the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

WU’s pioneer achievements over the years

The development of innovative teaching and research areas shaped WU for the past 125 years. Its excellence, diversity, and responsible decision-making are widely known. From its origins until today, the number of applications has constantly increased. For this reason, WU had to change location several times. Today, the Vienna University of Economics and Business is located in the 2nd district. Its climate-neutral and barrier-free campus reflects the university’s innovative power and international approach. Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger: “WU has been a pioneer in many different ways. We were the first Austrian university to establish a professional Career Center, recognize the importance of alumni networking, implement the Bologna study architecture, and apply for international accreditations. WU worked on building a comprehensive international network as well as on strengthening cooperation with partner universities. The creation of the first English-taught Bachelor’s program in Business in Austria and WU’s contribution to building a European University are the newest examples showing how the university has excelled in its role as an academic pioneer time and again.” Also in the future, WU will remain true to its role as a trailblazer.

Anniversary program

WU will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a diverse program. At the beginning of March, a discussion event on academic freedom will take place, with WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger on the podium. In June, the event “Closed to Exclusion” will reflect on how WU has dealt with its Nazi past. Honorary doctorates will be put into context and NS-victims’ names will be added to the memorial on Campus WU. Also taking place in June, this year's WU Summer Celebration will be held under the motto “Open for Diversity”, celebrating 125 years of WU and 10 years of Campus WU and an outdoor exhibition will be set up to present the milestones of WU’s history.

Find out more about WU’s anniversary year

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