In 2016, the University of Warsaw celebrates its
200th anniversary. Established by the foundation act
of Alexander I, Tsar of Russia and King of Poland,
on 19th November 1816, it was launched in 1818 as
the Royal University of Warsaw. It was led by the
General Council headed by Stanisław Staszic. The
emblem of the University was a white eagle with
a crown, with its wings spread, holding laurel and
palm branches in its talons, and surrounded by five
stars representing the five faculties: Law, Medicine,
Philosophy, Theology, and Sciences and Fine Arts.
After the defeat of the November Uprising, the
University was closed and valuable collections
were taken to St. Petersburg.
Owing to the efforts of Aleksander Wielkopolski,
in 1862 the University was reactivated under the
name of the Main School which functioned only
until 1869. It was replaced by the Russian-language
Imperial University of Warsaw. From 1905, it was
widely boycotted by the Poles. In 1915, the Polish-
language University of Warsaw was reactivated
and for the first time women were admitted to
study at the University. In the interwar period,
the University became the largest Polish academy
with more than 250 academic teachers and 10,000
students. In 1939, soon after the Nazi troops had
seized the capital, the University was closed.
A secret university developed under the occupation,
in which over 3000 students and 300 academic staff
participated in 1944. During the Warsaw Uprising,
the University site became an arena of battles
by the “Krybar” group of insurgents. After the
defeat of the uprising, in which many employees
and students of the University of Warsaw were
killed, the majority of buildings, equipment and
collections were destroyed.
The University resumed its operations in 1945. Im-
portant events in its post-war history were strikes
and demonstrations of students expressing their
criticism towards the political system, widely
known as March ‘68, which were put down by the
militia. As a result of these events, the University
lost a large number of valuable employees and
students forced by the Polish communist authorities to leave the country. The University of Warsaw
and its graduates significantly contributed to Poland’s freedom and independence regained after 1989.
Five Nobel Prize winners were alumni of the University.
Currently, the University educates more than 48,000
students and doctoral students, and employs 3,500
academics who carry out the largest number of
research grants in Poland. The University conducts
research in all fields of science: human sciences, social
sciences, exact sciences and natural sciences.