Photo source: University of Ljubljana archives

The University of Ljubljana was established in 1919. On 23 July 1919, Prince Regent Aleksander Karađorđević signed the Act on University of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in Ljubljana, i.e. today’s University of Ljubljana. Its founding member faculties were the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Law, Technical Faculty and Faculty of Theology.

On 31 August 1919, the first 18 professors of the University were appointed by royal decree. The date 3 December 1919 is regarded as the University’s birthday, as this is when Dr France Ramovš, expert in Slavic languages, held a lecture on the historical grammar of the Slovenian language at the then Provincial Assembly of the Carniolan Provincial Manor, which has served as the premises of the University of Ljubljana to this day. The Slovenski narod newspaper described the event as follows: “And so the 3rd December 1919 has arrived, a historic day for all Slovenians and, indeed, for the entire Yugoslavia, a day which the great age has bestowed on our small nation, creating in our freedom our very own hearth of science, learning and culture, a day when our academic youth gathered at the Provincial Assembly and listened from 9 to 10 am to the first lecture held at the newly-founded Slovenian university.”  The Rector of the new University of Ljubljana became Josip Plemelj, one of the most important mathematicians of the early 20th century.

In the first academic year of 1919/1920, 942 students enrolled in the University, 28 women and 914 men. Although the number of men greatly surpassed the number of women, the first PhD title was bestowed on a woman, which was a rarity even in Europe. The title was awarded to Ana Mayer on 15 July 1920 for her dissertation entitled On the effects of formalin on starch.

Between the two world wars, the University of Ljubljana, the youngest and smallest university in the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, was granted the least funds. Such underfunding resulted in inadequate premises and equipment. Nevertheless, the number of students continued to rise. While 942 students enrolled in the first academic year, the 1940/1941 academic year saw as many as 2,474 students. The number of regular teachers also increased, from the initial 18 to 90.

Development after WWII

At the end of WWII, the University of Ljubljana entered a new period. The founding member faculties expanded their study programmes. As the need for experts rose, the original faculties were joined by the Faculty of Economics in 1946, and the Faculty of Agronomy a year later. In the 1960s, the University of Ljubljana comprised as many as nine faculties: the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Faculty of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine, and Biotechnical Faculty. In 1970, the Faculty of Sociology, Political Science and Journalism was admitted as the tenth member. On 24 November 1975, ten more schools and academies joined the University of Ljubljana and its ten existing faculties under a self-management agreement: the Academy of Music, Academy of Fine Arts, Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, the Education Academy, Higher School for Physical Culture, Junior Maritime College in Piran, School of Social Work, College for Health Workers, School of Public Administration and the Higher Technical Safety School.

University of Ljubljana after Slovenia’s attainment of independence

Slovenia’s independence and the resulting political developments have also brought changes to the field of higher education. The Higher Education Act, adopted in December 1993, enabled the country’s then two universities, one in Ljubljana and one in Maribor, to transform into classical European universities. Greater importance was placed on scientific and research work, and the universities were given greater autonomy.

University of Ljubljana today

Today, the University of Ljubljana ranks among the top 3% of universities in the world. It has been ranked among the top 500 universities by the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU); it is placed 370th in The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), and listed in the 601-800 group in the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking.

The University comprises 23 faculties and three academies of art, which provide study programmes in all fields, i.e. natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, engineering, medicine, and the arts. It is the largest and oldest higher education institution in Slovenia, where nearly forty thousand students are studying. The researchers and students of our University achieve extraordinary results in Slovenia and abroad, securing the University’s place as the largest and central scientific and research institution in Slovenia.