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Jagiellonian University

For several academies alternatively called "Krakow Academy", see Education in Kraków

The Jagiellonian University (Uniwersytet Jagielloński, often shortened to UJ) is located in Kraków, Poland. Originally founded as Akademia Krakowska (Cracow Academy) in 1364 by Casimir III the Great, it is the second oldest university in Central Europe after the Charles University in Prague, and one of the oldest universities in Europe. It was renamed as the Jagiellonian University in 1817 to commemorate the Jagiellonian dynasty of Polish kings. The Times Higher Education Supplement ranked Jagiellonian University as the best Polish university in 2006.


Casimir III realized that the nation needed a class of educated people, especially lawyers, who could codify the laws and administer the courts and offices. His efforts to found an institution of higher learning in Poland were rewarded when Pope Urban V granted him permission to open the Cracow Academy. The Royal Charter of Foundation was issued on 12 May, 1364. The King provided funding for one chair in liberal arts, two in Medicine,, three in Canon Law and five in Roman Law, funded by a quarterly payment taken from the proceeds of the royal monopoly on the salt mines at Wieliczka. Its development was stalled by the death of the king, and later the academy was re-established (1400) by King Wladislaus Jagiełło and his wife Jadwiga. The queen donated all of her personal jewelry to the academy, allowing it to enroll 203 students. The faculties of astronomy, law and theology attracted eminent scholars: for example, Stanisław of Skalbmierz, Paweł Włodkowic, Jan of Głogów, and Albert Brudzewski, who from 1491 to 1495 was one of Nicolaus Copernicus's teachers.

Throughout the history of the University, thousands of students from all over Poland, from Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Bohemia, Germany and Spain have studied there. In the second half of the 15th century, over 40% of students came from the countries other than the Kingdom of Poland. For several centuries, virtually the entire intellectual elite of Poland was educated at the University.

The first chancellor of the academy was Piotr Wysz and the first professors were Czechs, Germans and Poles, many of them trained at the Charles University in Prague in Bohemia. Of the students attending about one third were Poles.

By 1520 Greek philology was introduced by Constanzo Claretti and Wenzel von Hirschberg; Hebrew was also taught.

The Golden era of the Cracow Academy took place during the Polish Renaissance, between 1500 and 1535, when it was attended by 3215 students in the first decade of the 16th century. As the popularity declined, this record was not surpassed until the late 18th century.

In 1846, after the Kraków Uprising, the city and its university became part of the Austrian Empire. The threat of a closure of the University was dissipated in 1847 by the Austrian Emperor's decree to maintain it. Buildings, like the Collegium Novum opened in 1887, were added.

On November 6, 1939, 184 professors were arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The university, along with the rest of Poland's higher and secondary education was shut down for the remainder of World War II.

The faculty was suppressed by the Communists in 1954.

In 2007, the administrative offices including those of the Rector and Deans were located at the historic Collegium Novum.

Since 2000 a new complex of university buildings, the so-called Third Campus, is under construction, due for completion in 2009.

Notable people connected with the university

Outstanding professors


The university has 52,445 students (including 1,612 degree students from abroad) and 3,657 academic staff (2008). About 1130 international non-degree students were enrolled in the year 2007. Programmes of study in 48 disciplines and 93 specialisations are offered. The school has an exchange program with The Catholic University of America and its Columbus School of Law.


The university's Jagiellonian Library (Biblioteka Jagiellońska) is one of the largest in the country, with almost 5.5 million volumes. It has a large collection of medieval manuscripts , for example Copernicus' De Revolutionibus or Balthasar Behem Codex.

It also gathered the underground literature (so called drugi obieg or samizdat) from the period of communist rule (1945-1989).


The university is divided into 15 faculties:

  • Law and Administration
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacy and Medical Analysis
  • Health Care
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Philology
  • Polish Language and Literature
  • Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology and Earth Sciences
  • Management and Social Communication
  • International and Political Studies
  • Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology

Student Life

In 1851 first Student Scientific Association was founded. Now, over 70 Student Scientific Associations exist at the Jagiellonian University. Usually, their purpose is to promote student's scientific achievements by organizing lecture sessions, science exursions, even international conferences for students like the International Workshop for Young Mathematicians organized by the Zaremba Association of Mathematicians.

See also

  • Nawojka The legendary first female student from the 15th century
  • Sonderaktion Krakau A German operation against professors and academics from the University of Kraków


External links

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