The Bologna University

The Bologna University attitude to open innovation paves the way for an erudite hub of international value.

The establishment that we call University today began to evolve in Bologna in the late 11th century, when masters of grammar, rhetoric and logic began to devote themselves to law.

1088 is widely considered the date in which free teaching began in Bologna, independently from the ecclesiastic schools. At the end of the 11th century, masters of grammar, rhetoric and logic began to apply themselves to law in Bologna, and the earliest recorded scholar was a man named Irnerius, whose activities cataloguing the Roman legal materials soon ran beyond the boundaries of Bologna. 

During the 12nd century the “doctores“ of Bologna were involved in the debate on law aimed at the development of European politics, defining the relations between the State and the Church. Their arguments in 1158 led Frederick I to establish that every school be set up as a "societas di socii" (group of students) overseen by a master (dominus) remunerated by the sums paid to him by the students. The Empire undertook to protect scholars travelling for the purpose of study from the intrusion of all political authorities. This was a fundamental event in the history of European university. The University was legally declared a place where research could develop independently from any other power.

From the 14th century the schools of jurists sat alongside the so-called "artists", scholars of Medicine, Philosophy, Arithmetic, Astronomy, Logic, Rhetoric and Grammar. The teaching of Theology was instituted in 1364. In the 15th century Greek and Hebrew studies were instituted as well, and in the 16th century those of "natural magic", experimental science. In that period the Archiginnasio Palace was constructed to give a unit seat to the university teaching, until then dispersed in various seats.

The University's fame had spread throughout Europe and Bologna was a destination for many illustrious guests including Thomas Becket, Paracelso, Raimundo de Pegñafort, Albrecht Dürer. Erasmus of Rotterdam and Nicolas Copernicus also studied in Bologna. 

The University of Bologna admitted women teachers right from the 12th century. The opening to female scholars became clear in the 18th century. The new ideas of Enlightenment were changing old prejudices, and the whole of Europe was debating the issue of women's culture.

In 1888 the eighth centennial of the University was celebrated, with a grand ceremony in which all the world's universities convened in Bologna to honour the Alma Mater Studiorum (mother of all universities). The ceremony became an international festival of studies, as the universities recognized their common roots and ideals of progress and tolerance in Bologna.

Also in the present age, the Bologna University maintains its central position on the scene of global culture.

In 1988 during the nine hundredth anniversary of the University of Bologna, the rectors of 430 universities from all the continents signed the Magna Charta Universitatum Europaeum, subsequently signed by another 400 rectors. The Magna Charta affirms the autonomy of universities, the solid ties between teaching and research, rejecting any limits posed by "all geographical and political boundaries".

In 1999, 29 European Ministers of Higher Education signed the Bologna Declaration, establishing a European Higher Education Area. This was the start of a reform process known as the Bologna Process, committing the signatory countries to a project to restructure the university systems with a view to convergence, ending in 2010.

Aware of its own international dimension by history and vocation, the University of Bologna has always promoted interdisciplinary and intercultural dialogue, investing skills and resources in the international, multi-cultural dimension of education, research and services. The quality of its research, the grounding of its graduates and the international reputation of its professors are just some of the most frequently acknowledged results.