It was 1985 when businesses in the Dithmarschen and Nord Friesland Districts produced the so-called "West Coast Paper" under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce (IHK) in Flensburg. A central demand was: the establishment of a branch of the Flensburg University of Applied Science on the structurally weak West Coast.
Two years later, the Dithmarschen District declared the founding of a University of Applied Science (UAS) to be a strategic development objective; the District Administrator, Hans-Jakob Tiessen subsequently entered into negotiations with the Vice-Chancellor's office of the Flensburg University of Applied Science concerning the establishment of a local branch of the university. On 4 January, 1988, Prof. Dr. Hans Mueller von der Haegen (Flensburg UAS) finally presented a concept for a university location Heide/West Coast. Almost one year later, the Senate of his university formally decided on a university development plan that actually called for the founding of a branch of the Flensburg UAS in Heide. In addition the Township of Heide set the course for the university's establishment by having the Magistrate set aside a convenient, sufficiently large block of land in the east of Heide for the purpose of settling the UAS.
11 September 1991 is seen as a milestone in the history of the FHW, as on this day the State Government decided to found a University of Applied Sciences on the West Coast with the long-term aim of providing 1000 study places, with 500 study places being created in the initial establishment phase. At the same time the Cabinet declared Heide to be the location of the new university.
The constituent meeting of the founding committee, consisting of external experts and members of the Flensburg UAS, was opened by State Secretary, Dr. Peter Kreyenberg on 19 May 1992. The tender for the first four professors was placed in the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" half a year later.
Finally, on 20 September 1993, the time had come: the study programs began for 66 freshmen in Business Administration, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The FHW began its operation in rental rooms in Rungholt Straße, before it was able to move into its new building in Fritz-Thiedemann-Ring 20 in September 2000.
Since then the FHW has been growing constantly and has been able to use small setbacks to give itself a boost forward. In 2002, Mechanical Engineering had to be moved to Flensburg UAS because of a decision by the state to consolidate courses. However, its removal led to promising new course programs emerging: Management and Technology, International Tourism Management, and Economics and Law.
In addition, the FHW was the first university in the state to convert to the Bachelor and Master's degrees. The courses Environmental Building System Technology and Business Psychology were added in 2011 within the framework of the Higher Education Pact. The Summer Semester 2016 marks the start of a new part-time online master's degree program in Tourism Management (OMT) aimed at professionals. The distance education offer is location independent and can be flexibly studied either as a full-time or part-time student. Moreover, even individual modules can be taken as certificate courses - independent of a course of study.