Jagiellonian University – Collegium Medicum
Address: świętej Anny 12
Area: Old Town
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Jagiellonian University is the oldest institution of higher education in Poland. Established in 1364 by King Casimir III the Great, it is the second oldest university in Central-Eastern Europe, preceded by the University of Prague which was founded in 1348. Called Studium Generale in its early years, it was modeled after the Universities of Bologna and Padua and was initially composed of three faculties: Liberal Arts, Medicine, and Law. After its restoration in 1400, changes to the Academy's statute made it more resemble the Paris Sorbonne. For over 600 years, many famous Poles and Europeans received their education within the walls of this University. It was here that Nicolaus Copernicus studied and in 1578 Walenty Fontana delivered the first academic lecture based on Copernicus' heliocentric theory, an inconceivable notion to many scholars at the time. In 1938, Karol Wojtyła began his studies in Polish philology at Jagiellonian University, interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, when occupying forces closed the University. During the War, he actively participated in classes organized by the underground university. Upon taking Holy Orders and returning from his doctoral studies in Rome, he received his post-doctoral degree from Jagiellonian University in 1953, continuing to work at the University until 1954. In 1983, already as Pope, he was honored by University authorities with an Honorary Doctorate.
After Poland regained independence following World War I, new institutions of higher education were established and older institutions were able to recover their Polish identity. With its already famous University, Kraków already possessed adequate intellectual potential to help these new institutions.
Despite numerous challenges, particularly economic, sustained scientific development continued at the University until the outbreak of World War II and Nazi German occupation. On November 6, 1939, in room number 26 at Collegium Novum, the teaching staff was gathered on orders by SS-Sturmbahnfuhrer Bruno Muller, who accused university authorities of illegal activity. On these false changes, all those present were arrested and deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Despite this grievous tragedy and loss of its greatest luminaries of science, on the initiative of Professor Mieczysław Małecki, Jagiellonian University established an underground university in 1942, the Rector of which was Professor Władysław Szafer. After World War II, notwithstanding a shortage of teaching staff, the University resumed its functioning in 1945. However, despite the good will and sincere enthusiasm of all academic teachers and students, these efforts were soon stifled by ever-increasing political interference.
Today's Jagiellonian University combines tradition with the challenges of the modern world. In compliance with the principles of the Bologna Process, over 46 000 students study in 15 faculties on all three levels of study: Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral. One may choose to study from nearly a hundred majors. The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) enables students to combine their studies at Jagiellonian University with coursework from other European universities.
Teaching staff includes over 3600 academic instructors, 500 of whom hold the title of Professor. Its young academic staff and doctoral students are yearly awarded more then 10 percent of the prestigious Foundation for Polish Science scholarships. Researchers at Jagiellonian University effectively compete for the grants through European research programs and as many as 6 European Centers of Excellence operate within the University.
In recent years, cooperation between scientists at Jagiellonian University and the business community has greatly increased. As a result, a number of research projects, mainly in the field of natural and exact sciences, have been introduced onto Polish and international markets. Jagiellonian University graduates do an excellent job of competing on both the domestic and foreign labor market.
The University's legacy makes it not only an important center for scientific research and instruction, but also a center of Polish and European culture. It gathers representatives from all artistic disciplines and continues to inspire both faculty and students alike. The work of those connected with the University continues to influence the world in which we live and remains a part of Europe's humanistic landscape.
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