By the 1970s, the Stasi had decided that the methods of overt persecution that had been employed up to that time, such as arrest and torture, were too crude and obvious. It was realised that psychological harassment was far less likely to be recognised for what it was, so its victims, and their supporters, were less likely to be provoked into active resistance, given that they would often not be aware of the source of their problems, or even its exact nature. Zersetzung was designed to side-track and "switch off" perceived enemies so that they would lose the will to continue any "inappropriate" activities.
Universities mainly teach theoretical knowledge and emphasise research. Only universities – and other higher education institutions of equal status – have the right to confer doctoral degrees and can thus award doctorates in Germany. Universities normally offer a wide range of different subjects, but some have specialised and then call themselves technical universities (Technische Universität, TU) or colleges of education (Pädagogische Hochschule, PH). Some universities, such as the Hanover Medical School or the German Sport University Cologne , even focus solely on a single subject area.