Organization:University of Basel

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Short description: Public university in Basel, Switzerland
University of Basel
Universität Basel
University of Basel Logo.png
Latin: Universitas Basiliensis
EstablishedApril 4, 1460; 562 years ago (1460-04-04)
BudgetCHF 768 million (2020)[1]
PresidentAndrea Schenker-Wicki[2]
Academic staff
4700 [1]

Coordinates: 47°33′31″N 07°35′00″E / 47.55861°N 7.5833333°E / 47.55861; 7.5833333
[[Social:School colors|Mint, Red, Anthracite[3]
Mint, Red, Anthracite[3]
AffiliationsUtrecht Network, EUCOR
The old main building of the University of Basel, which with its arcades in the middle takes up the lines of the first Italian university in Bologna

The University of Basel (Latin: Universitas Basiliensis, German: Universität Basel) is a university in Basel, Switzerland . Founded on 4 April 1460, it is Switzerland's oldest university and among the world's oldest surviving universities. The university is traditionally counted among the leading institutions of higher learning in the country.[4]

The associated Basel University Library is the largest and among the most important libraries in Switzerland. The university hosts the faculties of theology, law, medicine, humanities and social sciences, science, psychology, and business and economics, as well as numerous cross-disciplinary subjects and institutes, such as the Biozentrum for biomedical research and the Institute for European Global Studies. In 2020, the University had 13,139 students and 378 professors. International students accounted for 27 percent of the student body.[5]

In its over 500-year history, the university has been home to Erasmus of Rotterdam, Paracelsus, Daniel Bernoulli, Leonhard Euler, Jacob Burckhardt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Tadeusz Reichstein, Karl Jaspers, Carl Gustav Jung, Karl Barth, and Jeanne Hersch. The institution is associated with ten Nobel laureates and two Presidents of the Swiss Confederation.[6]


Inauguration ceremony of the University of Basel, 1460

The University of Basel was founded in connection with the Council of Basel. The deed of foundation given in the form of a Papal bull by Pope Pius II on November 12, 1459, and the official opening ceremony was held on April 4, 1460.[7] Originally the University of Basel was decreed to have four faculties—arts, medicine, theology, and jurisprudence. The faculty of arts served until 1818 as the foundation for the other three academic subjects. In the eighteenth century as Basel became more commercial, the university, one of the centres of learning in the Renaissance, slipped into insignificance. Enrollment which had been over a thousand around 1600, dropped to sixty in 1785 with eighteen professors. The professors themselves were mostly sons of the elite.[8]

Over the course of centuries as many scholars came to the city, Basel became an early centre of book printing and humanism. Around the same time as the university itself, the Basel University Library was founded. Today it has over three million books and writings and is the largest library in Switzerland.

Located in what was once a politically volatile area, the University's fate often ebbed and flowed with regional political developments, including the Reformation, the Kantonstrennung (separation of the Canton of Basel City from Basel Land), and both World Wars. These factors affected student attendance, funding, university-government relations. In 1833 the Canton of Basel split in two with the Federal Diet requiring that the canton's assets, including the books at the University library, be divided—two-thirds going to the new half canton of Basel-Landschaft. The city, Basel-Stadt, had to buy back this share and the university became so impoverished that it drastically reduced its course offerings. Students were expected to continue their education after two years or so at a German university.[8]

Student enrollment surged after the University shed its medieval curriculum (including the elimination of Latin as the official language of the course catalog in 1822) and began to add more faculties, especially those in the humanities and sciences. Liberal Arts became a faculty in 1818, from which the Philosophy and History and Natural History faculties were derived in 1937.[9] The University subsequently established the Faculty of Science (1937), the Faculty of Business and Economics (1996), and the Faculty of Psychology (2003).[9] During the 20th century, the University grew rapidly, from one thousand students in 1918 to eight thousand in 1994.[10] The first woman who was admitted to the University, Emilie Frey, began her medical studies in 1890.[11]

After the seizure of power in the year 1933 by the Nazis, numerous renowned German professors decided to emigrate to Basel and started to work at the University of Basel. Several Swiss scholars also returned, inter alia the Law Professor Arthur Baumgarten (1933), the Theologians Karl Barth (1935) and Fritz Lieb (1937) and after World War II the Philosopher Karl Jaspers from Heidelberg University (1948), as well as the surgeon Rudolf Nissen (1952).[12]

On January 1, 1996, the University of Basel became independent from the cantonal government and thus earned its right to self-government.[13] In 2007, the Canton of Basel-Landschaft voted in favor to share the sponsorship of the University in parity with the Canton Basel-Stadt.[14]

Reputation and rankings

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[15]87 (2019)
CWTS World[16]53 (2019)
THE World[17]92 (2021)

Well-respected rankings attest to the University of Basel's international academic performance:

  • Times Higher Education World University Ranking (THE) (2021): 92[17]
  • CWTS Leiden Ranking (2019): 53[18]
  • Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) (2019): 87[19]


University administration

Since January 1, 1996, the University of Basel has been independent. The University Law of 1995 stipulates that, “The University of Basel is an institution established under public law. It has its own legal personality and right to self-government.”[20] As the entity that formally receives the Performance Mandate (Leistungsauftrag) for the University from both supporting cantons, the University Council (Universitätsrat) is the supreme decision-making body of the University.[21] The Council consists of eleven voting members and three non-voting members, including the President, the Executive Director, and the Secretary of the Council. Beneath the University Council are the Senate (Regenz) and the President's Board. The 80-member Senate consists of the senior members of the President's Board, faculty deans, professors, lecturers and research assistants, assistants, students, and administrative and technical employees. The President's Office is tasked with leading the overall university business. It consists of the President and her staff, a General Secretariat, an Administrative Directorate, the Communications and Marketing Office, and two respective Vice-Presidents for Research and Education.[22]

Faculties and departments

The University of Basel currently houses seven faculties:[23]

Interdisciplinary institutions

Associated institutes

Notable alumni and faculty

The University is counted among the country's leading institutions of higher learning and thus boasts a large number of politicians, scientists and thinkers as professors and alumni from all around the world alike:[33]

  • Emil Abderhalden (1877–1950), Swiss biochemist and physiologist
  • Bonifacius Amerbach (1495 – 1562) Swiss jurist
  • Johann Konrad Ammann (1669–1724, Swiss physicist and educator of deaf children)
  • Werner Arber (1929–), Swiss microbiologist and geneticist, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1978
  • Karl Barth (1886–1968), Swiss Protestant theologian
  • Caspar Bauhin (1560–1624), Swiss botanist
  • Johann Bauhin (1541–1613), Swiss botanist
  • Daniel Bernoulli (1700–1782), Swiss mathematician and physicist
  • Jacob Bernoulli (1655–1705), prominent Swiss mathematician, after whom Bernoulli numbers are named
  • Johann Bernoulli (1667–1748), Swiss mathematician
  • Johann Georg Birnstiel (1858–1927), Swiss writer and clergyman
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938–2000), American theologian and pastor
  • Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897), Swiss historian
  • Meehyun Chung (1963–) South Korean theologian, professor of Yonsei University
  • Jacques Dubochet (1942–), Swiss biophysicist, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017
  • Nikolaus Eglinger (1645–1711), Swiss physician
  • Erasmus (1466–1536), Dutch Renaissance humanist
  • Paul Erdman (1932–2007), American business and financial writer
  • Leonhard Euler (1707–1783), mathematician and physicist
  • Rudolf Eucken (1846–1926), philosopher, Nobel Prize in Literature in 1908
  • Christoph Gerber professor at the Department of Physics, co-inventor of the atomic force microscope
  • Albert Gobat (1848–1914), Swiss politician, Nobel Peace Prize in 1902
  • Paul Herrling, professor of Drug Discovery Science
  • Jeanne Hersch (1910–2000), Swiss philosopher
  • Karl Jaspers (1883–1969), German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher
  • Karl Gustav Jung (1795–1864), German-Swiss physician and surgeon, Rector and professor of the University
  • Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961), Swiss psychiatrist, and founder of Analytical Psychology
  • Eberhard Jüngel (1934–2021), German Lutheran theologian
  • Jack Dean Kingsbury (1931–), American New Testament theologian and professor at Union Presbyterian Seminary[46]
  • Michael Landmann (1913–1984), Swiss-Israeli philosopher
  • Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903–1994), Israeli public intellectual and polymath
  • Friedrich Miescher (1844–1895), Swiss physician and biologist, first researcher to isolate nucleic acid
  • Alice Miller (1923–2010), Swiss psychologist and author
  • David-François de Montmollin (1721-1803), Swiss colonist to Canada, Protestant minister, landowner
  • Paul Hermann Müller (1899–1965), Swiss chemist, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900,) German philosopher, held Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel at the age of 24
  • Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1942–), German biologist and biochemist, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995
  • Paracelsus (1493–1541), Swiss philosopher, physician, botanist and astrologer
  • Tadeus Reichstein (1897–1996), Polish-Swiss chemist, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1950
  • Otto Stich (1927–2012), President of the Swiss Confederation
  • Emmanuel Stupanus (1587–1664), Swiss physician
  • William Theilheimer (1914–2005), German-American scientist
  • Lilian Uchtenhagen (1928–2016), Swiss politician and economist
  • Peter Werenfels (1627–1703), Swiss theologian
  • Kurt Wüthrich (1938–), Swiss chemist, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002
  • Iona Yakir (1896–1937), Red Army commander
  • Rolf Zinkernagel (1944–), Swiss physician, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996
  • Hans Zingg (M.D.) — Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Professor of Medicine, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Wyeth-Ayerst Chair in Women's Health at McGill University

Student life

The University hosts several formal institutions that are intended to serve the needs of its students. The Student Advice Center[47] provides advice on academic degree programs and career opportunities. The Student Services provides information on applications, grants, mobility, exchanges, and disability services.[48]

Student organizations

There are also a variety of organizations that cater to international students, such as local chapters of Toastmasters and AIESEC, and associations that perform community services (Beraber, for instance, provides remedial lessons to immigrant youth). There is a foreign affairs association (Foraus), a Model United Nations team, and various choirs and orchestras.[49] There are also various religious groups.[50]

A number of other student groups exist out of formal venues. The most recognizable are the “Studentenverbindungen,” traditional student associations dating from the 19th century that organize social events, share common uniforms, and often focus on particular hobbies, such as sword fighting. Such associations include the Akademische Turnerschaft Alemannia zu Basel, AKW Raurica, Helvetia Basel, Jurassia Basiliensis, Schwizerhüsli, A.V. Froburger, and Zofingia. Membership in many is restricted to men, though A.V. Froburger also accepts women.[51]

University sports

University Sports provides a gym, fitness classes, and sport and dance camps to students and employees of the University.[52]

Student union

The Studentische Körperschaft der Universität Basel (skuba) speaks on behalf of the students and represents their needs and interests. It acts as an official student representative and has no political or religious affiliations.[53]

Alumni association

The University has a general alumni association, AlumniBasel, as well as specific alumni associations for the Europainstitut, Medicine, Law, Business and Economics, Dentistry, and Nursing.[54]

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "University of Basel, Facts & Figures". 
  2. "Die Rektorin". 
  3. Colors – website of the University of Basel
  4. Universities, Swiss. "University of Basel". 
  5. "Herbstsemester 2020". 
  6. "History". 
  7. 8.0 8.1 Grossman, Lionel, Basel in the age of Burckhardt (Chicago, 2000) p. 35, and note 20; p. 118
  8. 9.0 9.1 Georg Kreis, "550 Years of the University of Basel: Permanence and Change" (Basel, 2010) p. 26
  9. Georg Kreis, "550 Years of the University of Basel: Permanence and Change" (Basel, 2010) p. 25
  10. Fellmann. "550 Jahre Universität Basel". 
  11. Kreis, Georg. "Universität Basel" (in de). 
  12. Fellmann. "550 Jahre Universität Basel". 
  13. Fellmann. "550 Jahre Universität Basel". 
  14. [Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019]
  15. "Rankings". 
  16. 17.0 17.1 "World University Rankings". 25 August 2020.!/page/0/length/25/locations/CH/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats. 
  17. "". 
  18. "ARWU". 
  19. Kreis,p. 79.
  20. "Aufgaben". 
  21. "Rektorat". 
  22. "Universität Basel | UNIBAS |". 
  23. "Theologische Fakultät". 
  24. "Juristische Fakultät Universität Basel". 
  25. "Webseite der Medizinischen Fakultät Basel". 
  26. "Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät". 
  27. "Philosophisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät". 29 July 2011. 
  28. "WWZ: Home". 26 September 2011. 
  29. "Fakultät für Psychologie". 28 September 2011. 
  30. "Europainstitut: Home". 
  31. FMI. "FMI – Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research". 
  32. "Die Universität Basel braucht wieder eine Vision - Prime News". 
  33. "Erasmus von Rotterdam". 
  34. "Paracelsus". 
  35. "Bernoulli, Jacob". 
  36. "Euler, Leonhard". 
  37. "Nietzsche, Friedrich". 
  38. "Miescher, Friedrich". 
  39. "Jung, Karl Gustav". 
  40. "Jung, Carl Gustav". 
  41. "Jaspers, Karl". 
  42. "Reichstein, Tadeusz". 
  43. "Arber, Werner". 
  44. "Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard - Biozentrum". 
  45. "Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury Chair of New Testament Theology". 
  46. "Student Advice Center". 
  47. "Student Services". 
  48. "Student Organizations". 
  49. "Recognized Associations". 
  50. "Akademische Verbindung Froburger". 
  51. "University Sports". 
  52. "Über uns – Studentische Körperschaft der Universität Basel". 
  53. "Alumni". 

Further reading

  • Bonjour, Edgar, Die Universität Basel von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart 1460–1960 (Basel : Helbing und Lichtenhahn, 1971)

External links