University of Greifswald

University of Greifswald

Infobox University
name = University of Greifswald
native_name = Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald

image_size = 150px
caption = Seal of the University of Greifswald
latin_name = Universitas Gryphiswaldensis
motto =
mottoeng =
established = founded on October 17, 1456 — teaching existed since 1436 [ [ Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) article] ]
closed =
type = Public
affiliation =
endowment =
officer_in_charge =
chairman =
chancellor = Dr Thomas Behrens
president =
vice-president =
superintendent =
provost =
vice_chancellor =
rector = Prof Rainer Westermann
principal =
dean =
director =
head_label =
head =
faculty =
staff = ~ 5,000
students = 12,000 (08/2008)
undergrad =
postgrad =
doctoral =
other =
city = flagicon|Germany Greifswald
province =
country = Germany
coor = coord|54.094638|13.374626|type:edu
campus = Urban
former_names =
free_label =
free =
sports =
colors =
colours =
nickname = EMAU
mascot =
athletics =
affiliations = CBUR, DAAD, DFG, EUA, HRK
website = []
A part of the Old Campus
footnotes =

The University of Greifswald (full name: "Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald", _de. Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald), is located in Greifswald, Germany. The city of Greifswald is situated approximately 200 km (ca. 125 miles) to the north of Berlin, in close proximity to the sea and major German holiday destinations such as Rügen and Usedom. Due to the small-town atmosphere, the pronounced architectural presence of the alma mater across town, and the young, academic flair in the streets, Greifswald is often described as a "university with a town built around it" rather than a town with a university.

Founded in 1456 (teaching existed since 1436), it is one of the oldest universities in the world. Temporarily, the University of Greifswald was the oldest university of the Kingdoms of Sweden and later Prussia, and it is the fourth-oldest in present-day Germany. Approximately two thirds of the 12,000 students come from outside the region, illustrating the national and international appeal.


The University of Greifswald was founded on October 17, 1456 with imperial and papal approval. This was possible due to the great commitment of Greifswald's mayor, Heinrich Rubenow, who was also to become the university's first rector, under the protection of Duke Wartislaw IX of Pomerania and Bishop Henning Iven of St Nicolas' Cathedral.

The founding of the university was made possible by a law restricting teaching activity at the University of Rostock. Several professors left Rostock for Greifswald to continue their work there, where Heinrich Rubenow saw the chance of establishing his own university.

Originally, the university consisted of the four traditional divisions: Theology, Philosophy, Medicine and Law.

In Germany, there are only four older universities that operated continuously: Heidelberg (1386), Cologne (1388), Leipzig (1409) and Rostock (1419).

International co-operation with other instututions of higher education in northern Europe existed already in the earliest years, sparked and accelerated by the transnational trading network Hanse. From 1456 until 1526, 476 Scandinavians were enrolled at Greifswald University and 22 faculty members as well as six rectors came from Scandinavia. This was a relatively high percentage compared to the total number of students at the time.

The early sixteenth centry saw significant co-operation of the university, the Lutheran church, the city and the Duchy of Pomerania. Professors of theology simultaneously served as pastors in the three cathedrals. Professors of medicine usually served as personal physicians of the duke. Professors of law where also working at the local courts while professors of the faculty of philosophy usually taught the sons and daughters of the ducal family. The landed nobility also funded university-related purposes such as scholarships and student bursaries. The Reformation was introduced at the university in 1539. After the secularisation of the monastery at Eldena near Greifswald, Duke Philipp I of Pomerania gave all revenue created by the newly created "Amt Eldena" to the university. His successor, Duke Ernst Ludwig, began the construction of a college building, which could only be completed after his death. Duke Philipp Julius presented the university a gown that was used by the rector on ceremonial occasions up until very recently.

In 1604, the university introduced the first centralised university library of Germany. The university signed a contract with a book printer from Wittenberg, Germany, for the amount of 2,000 Gulden. This contract lasted nearly a century due to the disruption caused by the Thirty Years' War. Hence, the university owns prestigious early prints of authors and printers such as Johannes Gutenberg or Thomas Thorild.

The Duke of Pomerania was in financial troubles and had not paid the professors. As a solution, he gave the Amt Eldena to the university - a total of 140 square kilometres of land.

After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 the western part of Pomerania, including Greifswald and its university, came under Swedish control. Without entirely losing its character as a German university, it was heavily influenced by Swedish educational policies until 1815. Especially during the second half of the eighteenth century Greifswald was a cultural and scientific bridge between Germany and Sweden. More than 1,500 Swedes studied at Greifswald University.

The main administrative building - still in use today - was built during the "good old Swedish years" by Andreas Mayer, a mathematician by profession, in the style of North German Baroque.

When Swedish Pomerania became part of Prussia in 1815, the University of Greifswald became the oldest university in Prussia. Extensive building activity was undertaken in all faculties and Greifswald grew significantly in size and reputation.

The Faculty of Law became Faculty of Law and Economics in 1905. In 1912, Otto Jaekel, a professor of paleontology in Greifswald, founded the German Paleontological Society.

The spectrum of academic research and teaching was further expanded during the Weimar Republic. The "Nordisches Institut" (Scandinavian and Finno-Ugric studies) and several other research institutes, e.g. for biological research, Christian archeology, and Palestinian studies, were founded.

It was named after Ernst Moritz Arndt in 1933, who was a student of theology in 1791 and later taught history at Greifswald. Here, he published his works "Versuch einer Geschichte der Leibeigenschaft in Pommern und Rügen", "Germanien und Europa" as well as the first part of "Geist der Zeit". There have been frequent debates as to whether Arndt's name is desirable for the university or not, but attempts to change the university's name have always been democratically rejected.

All academic activities came to a halt towards the end of the Second World War, and the university was re-opened on February 15, 1946. Several organisational changes were made during the time of the GDR, most of which were revoked in the 1990s after the German Reunification. Freedom of science as well as the autonomy and self-administration of the university were re-established. The Faculty of Law and Economics was re-opened from 1991 to 1993. Extensive renovation took place since 1990.

Beginning in 1999, the University of Greifswald was among the first in Germany to welcome and introduce the international Bachelor/Master degree system as proposed by the Bologna declaration. The new system has replaced all former 4.5 year "Magister" degrees in the arts and humanities and is set to replace the 4.5 year "Diplom" formerly awarded in the sciences and in business too.

Large-scale (re-)construction efforts were made and many university buildings were renovated or newly constructed. A new campus for natural sciences (physics [ [ images of the new Physics Department] ] , chemistry, biochemistry), medicine, IT and mathematics is under construction in the eastern part of the city. The new domiciles of the central library, the departments of physics, biology and biochemistry have already been completed. The university hospital, which is thought to be completed in 2009, will be the most modern up-to-date full service hospital in Germany, adding to the appeal of medical studies at the University of Greifswald.

As a consequence of the construction of the new university hospital, all classical 19th and early 20th century buildings that were formerly used by the faculty of medicine will be transferred to house other disciplines, thus creating an old-town campus for such disciplines as law and economics, the humanities and social sciences.

In 2006, the university celebrated its 550th anniversary with a large variety of events. The central ceremony — involving the re-opening of the university's renovated administrative building by President Horst Köhler of Germany, Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Minister President Harald Ringstorff of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern — took place on October 17, 2006. [ [ Queen Silvia of Sweden, President Horst Köhler of Germany, Professor Westermann at the celebration of the 550th anniversary of the University of Greifswald in 2006] ]



The University of Greifswald is governed by a rector, who is the head of the university in terms of organisational government, and represents the university towards the society as a whole as well as towards other universities. The rector is elected by the senate for a 7 year term. He is assisted by two vice rectors and the chancellor. The chancellor's role within the university is the leadership of the university's entire administration. The senate is comprised of scientific staff (divided into professors and non-professors), students, and even non-scientific staff (librarians, administration officials, etc.). There is also a student parliament representing the interests of the students.


The buildings of the arts and humanities, law, business studies, and theology are scattered about the historic center of the City of Greifswald. The newly built facilities for the natural sciences, mathematics, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry are is situated to the east of the city centre, offering top-standard research opportunities. Like many European universities, Greifswald University is separated into faculties (German: " _de. Fakultät") and among those further subdivided into departments (" _de. Institut"):

= The Faculty of Arts =

= The Faculty of Business and Law =

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Courses are offered in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, geography, geology, Mathematics, IT, pharmacy and physics.

The physics department of the University of Greifswald, together with the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik and the Leibniz Institute of Plasma Research and Technology, is a major international research hub in the field of plasma physics, attempting to solve future energy problems with the research reactor Wendelstein 7-X.

Since 2007, the Department of Physics takes care of the construction of a space telescope called "MuSTAnG" [ [ MuSTAnG telescope website] ] (Muon Spaceweather Telescope for Anisotropies at Greifswald), which will be part of a worldwide network of telescopes in Japan, Brazil, Australia and Germany. The telescope will enable psysicists and astrononomists at Greifswald University to forecast solar activity and has been co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt. In addition to MuSTAnG, the university owns an observatory, which is taken care of by a private initiative and open to the public.

Greifswald offers a multi-disciplinary approach to environmental studies, called landscape ecology, bringing together different disciplines such as biology, geography, economics, law, and ethics.

The pharmacy department and the biotechnology department are also in the top group in Germany. The government-funded National Research Centre for Animal Disease on the Isle of Riems co-operates loosely with the university and is named "Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut" in honour of the university's former member of staff, Friedrich Loeffler.

The University of Greifswald owns an ornithological station on the German island Hiddensee.

The Faculty of Medicine

The medical school at the University of Greifswald is the second most requested, most selective, and among the best-ranked, in the whole of Germany. In 2007, Greifswald was ranked 2nd of 34 medical schools in Germany in terms of popularity with prospective students, out-ranking other popular universities such as the University of Heidelberg [ [pointer] =1&tx_ttnews [tt_news] =263&tx_ttnews [backPid] =184&cHash=7649baf591] )] . Degrees are offered in medicine as well as dentistry. In Germany, places to study medicine and dentistry are usually allocated (by high school results) on a national level by a country-wide agency. However, a certain fraction of the places available may be administered by the universities if they wish so. In the year 2008, there were 2,100 applications for 95 of those kind of places for medicine in Greifswald, which equals an admission rate of only 4.52 percent. In the same year, there were 400 applicants for 29 places in dentistry, which equals an admission rate of 7.25 percent. [ [ medicine and dentistry admission 2008]

The university hospital, "Universitätsklinikum Greifswald" [ [ "Universitätsklinikum Greifswald" (Greifswald University Hospital)] ] , is currently under complete reconstruction at the new science campus east of the city centre. Once completed in 2010, it will be the best equipped and most up-to-date full service hospital in Germany. The university hospital recently purchased a nearby communal hospital in the city of Wolgast to increase the number of beds and treated patients. This was the first time in Germany, that a (public) university hospital bought another public hospital. The merger was first prohibited because German antitrust authorities were worried about a dominating position of the "Universitätsklinikum Greifswald" in the region. However, the decision was later revoked by a direct veto of the federal government of Germany, which is a very rare procedure.

The Faculty of Theology

Affiliatiated institutions

Research emphasis lies in the field of plasma physics, landscape ecology, medicine, biotechnology, the Middle Ages and the languages and cultures of countries bordering the Baltic Sea.

* Alfried Krupp Institute of Advanced Study []
* Biotechnikum Greifswald
* Friedrich Loeffler Institute (National Research Institute of Animal Diseases), Riems Island
* Leibniz Institute of Plasma Research and Technology
* Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics
* Nuclear fusion research reactor Wendelstein 7-X
* Research Institute of Diabetes, Karlsburg (near Greifswald)
* Siemens, Public Networks
* Technology Centre Vorpommern
* Technologiepark (under construction)

International collaboration

The University of Greifswald aims to extend und efficiently use its international contacts. The primary geographic focus of international collaboration is Northern Europe and Eastern Europe, which is due to the university's research focus in this area. Partnerships with foreign universities to foster exchange of people (staff and students alike) and ideas is conducted in two different ways. Firstly, through official partnership agreements with foreign universities, which involves the entire university and most or all of her disciplines. Secondly, through contacts of professors, departments, and schools, which usually involves only one or few disciplines.

The University of Greifswald has signed several official partnership agreements with other universities to foster international co-operation through faculty and student exchange and academic co-operation [s [ partnership agreements] ] . In Northern Europe, the university has signed partnership agreements with universities in Denmark (Århus, Holbæk), Finland (Helsinki), and Sweden (Lund). In Eastern Europe, partnership agreements have been signed with universities in the Czech Republic (Brno), Estonia (Tartu), Latvia (Riga), Lithuania (Vilnius, Klaipeda), Poland (Poznan, Szczecin), and Russia (Immanuel Kant State University of Russia, Saint Petersburg State University). An exception is the University of Aberdeen as one of the ancient universities of Scotland.

There also numerous other channels of international academic contact by individual professors, departments or academic faculties, which often support student exchange through the ERASMUS programme. Student exchange from and to Greifswald is co-ordinated by the university's international office (" _de. Akademisches Auslandsamt"). Co-operation of this kind takes place with numerous prestigious universities, including those in Barcelona, Bergen, Gothenburg, Graz, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Lancaster, Lund, Saint Petersburg, Stockholm, Southampton, Uppsala, Utrecht or Tartu.


The University of Greifswald was a large scale land owner until post-WW2 communist land reforms. It owned more than 140 square kilometres of arable land, the revenue of which was the basis for its financial independence and wealth. It was one of the wealthiest universities in Germany.

The former wealth of the university can still be seen in many historic buildings as well as a notable collection of art and other possessions. Ernst Bogislaw von Croÿ donated the Croy Tapestry, a tapestry depicting the Reformation from 1554. Many older books, fossils, scientific collections form the core of possessions which, in the future, will be exhibited in the former department of physics near the main building. The university also owns one of only four remaining 36-line Gutenberg bibles from 1458.

Wealthiness and independence ended with communist land reforms after the Second World War, though parts of the land have been given back. Today, the university again manages some of the land previously owned, including a large forest, but revenue is low. Some land claims are still pending in court. The university also owns its own forest, which is administered by a "university forester".

The University of Greifswald also runs a botanical garden and an arboretum. [ [ botanical garden and arboretum] ]

Academic profile

The University of Greifswald can look back at a long tradition of academic excellence and international collaboration, which reaches back to 1436, when the first teaching began. As one of the oldest universities in Germany, it reached a peak in terms of wealth and reputation in the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, which was, however, set back by two World Wars (1914-1918, 1939-1945) and the Communist education doctrine and private ownership reforms of the former East Germany (1945-1990).

Today, the university aspires to take back its old place among the world's universities, and has both strengthened its long traditions and welcomed new trends and innovations. The continued efforts to regain academic leadership are mirrored in national top placements, e.g. in the "Die Zeit" university ranking [ [ "Die Zeit" ranking] ] , in several subjects including for instance biology, medicine [ [ Die Zeit ranking - Human Medicine (2006)] ] , geography, law [ [ Die Zeit ranking - Law (2008)] ] , pharmacy, psychology, dentistry, and business administration [ [ Die Zeit ranking - business administration (2008)] ] .

Some of these subjects in Greifswald are among the most selective in Germany for undergraduate admissions. A number of other subjects such as the languages and cultures of Northern Europe and the Eastern Europe, philosophy, european history, physics, fine arts, church music have also continually achieved national and international attention.

Moreover, the University of Greifswald is frequently described as one of the most popular universities for undergraduate admission in Germany, which is due to a very good study environment as well as a co-operative spirit between faculty and students. [ [ Deutschlandfunk article, October 2008] ]

Student life

Greifswald is situated in close proximity to the sea (near the islands Rügen and Usedom), about 200 km to the north of Germany's capital city, Berlin, and 100 km east of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's largest city, Rostock. There are train connections, and high-speed autobahn links to Hamburg, Rostock, and Berlin.

The city of Greifswald has several museums, a theatre and a philharmonic orchestra as well as a breadth of sports clubs and societies. A medium-sized convention centre called "Stadthalle Greifswald" is currently under construction.


The university's "Hochschulsport" [ [ Hochschulsport website] ] offers a wide range of opportunities to students who wish to do sports. Courses are available in nearly all disciplines, for instance aerobics, American football, football (soccer), dragon boat, fencing, handball, judo, karate, canoeing, lacrosse, rugby, surfing, diving, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, volleyball or yoga. The regular local sports clubs are frequented by students, too.

Greifswald is situated near the sea and the area between isles of Rügen and Usedom is among the most picturesque and best sailing and yachting regions in the whole of Germany. There are a number of sailing and yachting clubs that are frequented by staff and students alike, for instance the "Akademischer Seglerverein" (Academic Sailing Club) [ [ Akademischer Seglerverein] ] .

There is a golf club called "Hanseatischer Golfclub" [ [ Hanseatischer Golfclub] ] which is popular with university staff and students alike. It hosts the annual "Moritz Golf Cup".

A popular place for water and beach related activities for students and staff alike, particularly during summer, are the nearby spa towns on the isles of Rügen and Usedom (e.g. Binz, Sellin, Heringsdorf) — two of the most popular summer destinations in Germany.

Music and arts

There is a number of groups which are open to faculty and students, e.g.
* chamber choir
* cathedral choir
* university big band [ [ Big Band] ]
* university choir
* university symphonic orchestra

Nordischer Klang [ [ Nordischer Klang] ] ("Nordic Sound") — an international festival of Scandinavian and Nordic culture — takes place each year in Greifswald and is actively supported by students and members of staff. "Nordischer Klang" introduces the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden to the German public and is the largest festival of Nordic culture outside of the Nordic countries. It comprises lectures, movies, theatre performances, live jazz music, fine art and literature.

For those wishing to attend music events, there are a number of concerts (rock, pop, etc.) in local pubs and venues throughout the year, as well as the annual "Bach Festival" called "Greifswalder Bachwoche" [ [ Greifswalder Bachwoche] ] and the philharmonic concerts, open air operas and concerts, operas, theatre performances, and ballet are offered by the Theater Vorpommern [ [ Theater Vorpommern] ] .

Student groups

There are groups and organisations of various kinds. The AStA and the student parliament ("StuPa") work to represent the interests of all students towards the university and society as a whole. There are human rights groups, politically or religiously affiliated organisations, environmental protection groups, etc.

GrIStuF [ [ GrIStuF] ] — Greifswald International Students Festival — brings together students from all over the world each summer to discuss, party and compete with each other.


There is a monthly student magazine called "moritz-Magazin" [ [ moritz-Magazin website] ] , which read by the majority of students and publishes stories not only about university politics but also about culture in general. A popular "radio98eins" [ [ radio98eins website] ] local/regional radio station is operated mainly by students and presents independent music and local news. Students who wish to get experience in television may want to join "moritzTV" the student TV channel.

Night life

The student-run, not-for-profit clubs "Mensaclub", "Geographenkeller", "Geologenkeller", "Club 9" and "Kiste" are very popular and an inexpensive way of going out and meeting other students. There are several movie clubs who regularly show movies in German, English or in other languages. Apart from the localities that are run by students, there is an abundance of different pubs, clubs and restaurants.


Greifswald has a number of different student corporations, which have a long tradition as most of them were founded in the 19th century. Corporations are to some extent comparable to the fraternities in the USA. As traditional symbols (couleur) corporation members wear coloured caps and ribbons at ceremonial occasions (Kommers) and some still practice the traditional academic fencing, a kind of duel, in order to "shape their members for the challenges of life". In the 19th and early 20th century, corporations played an important role in Germany's student life. Today, however, corporations include only a relatively small number of students. Their self-declared mission is to keep academic traditions alive and to create friendships for life.

Notable peolpe

The University of Greifswald is associated with a number of notable people, including both former students and faculty. For instance, two Nobel prize laureates as well as two German chancellors have studied or worked in Greifswald.

Johannes Stark (1874-1957) received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1919 (see [ Nobel Prize Website] ) "for his discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of spectral lines in electric fields" during his time at the University of Greifswald. In 1939, Gerhard Domagk (1895 - 1964) received the Nobel Prize in Medicine (see [ Nobel Prize Website] ) "for the discovery of the antibacterial effects of prontosil". The university was named in honour of its former student and faculty member, the writer, politician und poet Ernst Moritz Arndt. Otto von Bismarck, chancellor of the German Empire from 1871-1890 and the "engineer" of the Unification of Germany in 1871, had a connection to Greifswald when he studied at the agricultural college, as well as one of his successors, Prince Bernhard von Bülow, who was chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.

Franz Seldte, a chemist by profession, worked as German labour minister. Johannes Bugenhagen, who introduced the Reformation in much of Northern Germany and Scandinavia was a student at the University of Greifswald and Thomas Thorild, a Swedish poet spent parts of his life in Greifswald. Alfred Gomolka, Member of the European Parliament for the CDU, worked for the university as well as the mathematician Felix Hausdorff.Bernhard Windscheid is one of the fathers of present German civil law. Ferdinand Sauerbruch, Theodor Billroth, Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach and Friedrich Loeffler made important contributions to the field of medical science. Hermann Löns became famous as a poet just like the discovers of Africa explorer Gustav Nachtigal became known around the world. Carl Schmitt, one of the most influential figures of 20th century political science was a member of staff. Mie scattering is named for Gustav Mie, a former professor of Physics. Georg Friedrich Schömann, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff were noted classical philologists. Ernst W. Mayr, one of the 20th century's most influential evolutional biologists, studied at the University of Greifswald.

A number of public figures received honorary doctorates of the University of Greifswald, including Jacques Delors (former President of the European Commission) and Hannelore Kohl (wife of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl).

The University of Greifswald and her research partners have also been visited by a number of heads of states, including then-chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder (2000, [ [ Chancellor Schröder in Greifswald 1] ] , 2001 [ [ Chancellor Schröder visiting Greifswald 2] ] ), Presidents of Germany Roman Herzog (1997 [ [ Bundespräsident Roman Herzog 1997] ] ) and Horst Köhler (2006 [ [,2.633597/Fotoreihe/dokument.htm Bundespräsident Horst Köhler 2006] ] ), and Queen Silvia of Sweden (2006 [ [ Queen Silvia of Sweden 2006] ] ).


* "If I look at the development of some of the universities [in the former eastern part] - for instance Greifswald, Dresden, and Jena - then we have achieved quite a lot." ("German": Wenn ich mir die Entwicklung einiger Universitäten anschaue - etwa Greifswald, Dresden und Jena - dann sind wir da schon ein ganzes Stück weiter.)
— Bundespräsident Johannes Rau on the development and education in the former GDR, 2004 [ [,2.94304/Rede/dokument.htm Bundespräsident Johannes Rau's 2004 interview (in German)] ]
* "Strong and self-confident universities are fountains of fortitude for a whole region, a whole country even, just as everyone can see it happen here in Greifswald." ("German": Starke, selbstbewusste Hochschulen sind Kraftquellen für eine ganze Region, ein ganzes Land. Hier in Greifswald lässt sich das sehr genau studieren.)
— Bundespräsident Horst Köhler in 2006 [ [,2.633639/Rede/dokument.htm Bundespräsident Horst Köhler welcome address at the 550th anniversary of the University of Greifswald in 2006)] (in German)]


* Dirk Alvermann & Karl-Heinz Spieß (eds.): "Universität und Gesellschaft : Festschrift zur 550-Jahrfeier der Universität Greifswald 1456 - 2006". 2 Bände. Rostock: Hinstorff 2006
* Werner Buchholz: "Lexikon Greifswalder Hochschullehrer 1775 bis 2006". Bad Honnef: Bock, 2004-
* Dirk Alvermann, Nils Jörn & Jens Olesen (eds.): "Die Universität Greifswald in der Bildungslandschaft des Ostseeraums". Berlin: LIT 2007


See also

* List of universities in Germany
* List of oldest universities in continuous operation
* Medieval university

External links

* [ Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald]
* [ City of Greifswald]

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