The University of Graz (German: Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz), located in Graz, Austria, is the largest and oldest university in Styria, as well as the second-largest and second-oldest university in Austria.
The university was founded in 1585 by Archduke Charles II of Austria. The bull of 1 January 1586, published on 15 April 1586, was approved by Pope Sixtus V. For most of its existence it was controlled by the Catholic Church, and was closed in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II in an attempt to gain state control over educational institutions. Joseph II transformed it into a lyceum, where civil servants and medical personnel were trained. In 1827 it was re-instituted as a university by Emperor Francis I, thus gaining the name Karl-Franzens-Universität, meaning Charles Francis University. Over 30,000 students are currently enrolled at the university.
The university is divided into six faculties, the two largest are the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Natural Sciences. The other faculties are the Faculty of Law; the Faculty of Business, Economic and Social sciences; the Faculty of Environmental, Regional and Educational Sciences; and the Faculty of Catholic Theology. The Faculty of Medicine was separated from the university by state legislation in 2004 and became an independent university – the Medical University of Graz. The faculties offer a wide range of undergraduate (BA, BSc), graduate (MA, MSc), and doctoral degree (PhD) programmes, as well as special teaching degrees in their specific areas of expertise.
Since its re-installation, the university has been home to many internationally renowned scientists and thinkers. Ludwig Boltzmann was professor at the university twice, first from 1869 to 1873 and then from 1876 to 1890, while he was developing his statistical theory of heat. Nobel Laureate Otto Loewi taught at the university from 1909 till 1938 and Victor Franz Hess (Nobel prize 1936) graduated in Graz and taught there from 1920 to 1931 and from 1937 to 1938. The physicist Erwin Schrödinger briefly was chancellor of the university in 1936.
The University of Graz does not have a distinct faculty of engineering, however, Graz University of Technology, which is focused on engineering and technology, offers inter-university undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in cooperation with the university's Faculty of Natural Sciences under the name "NAWI Graz". The main intention behind the cooperation was to avoid duplication of efforts and infrastructure, especially in cost-intensive subjects such as chemistry, industrial chemistry, physics, and geosciences, as both universities are located in close proximity to each other. Students enrolled in one of these programmes attend lectures and seminars at both universities and are awarded a combined degree at the end of their studies.
Because of the university's geographical location close to the Slovenian border and the two major Slovenian cities, Maribor and Ljubljana, it has traditionally attracted many students from Slovenia and served as a gateway to South-East Europe for Austrian scholars, scientists and businesses. The establishment of the Department for Slovene Language and Literature at the University of Graz, for example, laid the foundation for scholarly studies of Slovenian culture, literature, and language bundled in the so-called Slovene studies.
|World university rankings|
|Academic Ranking of World Universities||not among top 500 |
|Times Higher Education World University Rankings||401 – 500 |
|QS World University Rankings||373|
The university ranks highest in Arts and Humanities, coming 175th in the 2012 QS World University Rankings, whereas all other subject areas lag far behind, with the Faculty of Social Sciences ranking 335th and the Faculty of Natural Sciences ranking 284th. This tendency holds true for all state-funded universities in Austria, even including the three times as large University of Vienna. However, in the recently published Leiden Ranking, which only asserts the volume and impact of publications, the University of Graz ranked 150th as the only Austrian university being listed in the top 200.
Historically speaking, for most of its existence the University of Graz was controlled by the Catholic Church. Even after its re-installation in 1827, it took until 1848 for the university's basic principles to be readjusted in accordance with the ideals of Wilhelm von Humboldt and the Enlightenment, meaning that the university became autonomous from the state as well as from the church and their influence as far as possible. The Faculty of Catholic Theology has been retained as a part of the university ever since it was established, however, its importance in terms of number of students and its influence on the university board have been diminishing. Evidently, relations between the Catholic Church, especially the local bishop, and the university's Faculty of Theology remain strong, yet general policy is not influenced by these connections. Interestingly, to demonstrate the university's independence and its shift of focus, the Christogram IHS on the very top of the university's seal has been replaced with the sun, symbolising the Enlightenment and von Humboldt's ideas.
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