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University of Warsaw

Coordinates: 52°14′25″N 21°1′9″E / 52.24028°N 21.01917°E / 52.24028; 21.01917
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University of Warsaw
Uniwersytet Warszawski
Latin: Universitas Varsoviensis
Former names
Royal University of Warsaw (1816–1863)
Imperial University of Warsaw (1863–1919)
Józef Piłsudski University of Warsaw (1935–1945)
Established19 November 1816 (208 years ago)
Academic affiliations
EUA, Socrates-Erasmus, EAIE, UNICA
EndowmentPLN 1.8 billion[1]
(~US$0.4 billion)
RectorAlojzy Nowak
Academic staff
3,974 (2021)
Administrative staff
3,841 (2021)
Total staff
7,815 (2021)
Students36,477[2] (12.2023)
Undergraduates44,400 (2017)
Postgraduates3,000 (2017)
2,127 (2021)
00-927 Warszawa
CampusUrban, 55,000 square metres (590,000 sq ft)
LanguagePolish, English
Sporting affiliations
University Sports Association of Poland
University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[3]401-500 (2021)
QS World[4]262 (2024)
QS Employability[4]181-190 (2022)
THE World[5]601-800 (2024)
USNWR Global[6]345 (2023)
Global – Business and economics
QS Accounting[4]251-300 (2022)
QS Business[4]351-400 (2022)
QS Economics[4]251-300 (2022)
THE Business and Economics<ref"University of Warsaw". 30 October 2021.</ref>601+ (2022)
Global – Education
THE Education[7]501+ (2022)
Global – Law
QS Law[4]151-200 (2022)
THE Law[7]201+ (2022)
Global – Liberal arts
QS Arts & Humanities[4]126 (2022)
QS Politics[4]101-150 (2022)
QS Social Sciences and Management[4]254 (2022)
THE Arts and Humanities[7]201-250 (2022)
THE Social Sciences[7]601+ (2022)
Global – Life sciences and medicine
QS Life Sciences & Medicine[4]451-500 (2022)
THE Life Sciences[7]401-500 (2022)
THE Psychology[7]201-250 (2022)
Global – Science and engineering
QS Chemistry[4]251-300 (2022)
QS Engineering & Tech.[4]251-300 (2022)
QS Natural Sciences[4]157 (2022)
THE Computer Science[7]126-150 (2022)
THE Physical Sciences[7]301-400 (2022)
Regional – Overall
THE Europe[8]=283 (2022)
THE Emerging Economies[7]87 (2018)
USNWR Europe[9]147 (2022)
National – Overall
USNWR National[6]2 (2022)

The University of Warsaw (Polish: Uniwersytet Warszawski, Latin: Universitas Varsoviensis) is a public research university in Warsaw, Poland. Established on November 19th, 1816, it is the largest institution of higher learning in the country, offering 37 different fields of study as well as 100 specializations in humanities, technical, and the natural sciences.[10]

The University of Warsaw consists of 126 buildings and educational complexes with over 18 faculties: biology, chemistry, journalism and political science, philosophy and sociology, physics, geography and regional studies, geology, history, applied linguistics and philology, Polish language, pedagogy, economics, law and public administration, psychology, applied social sciences, management and mathematics, computer science and mechanics.

Among the university's notable alumni are heads of state, prime ministers, Nobel Prize laureates, including Sir Joseph Rotblat and Olga Tokarczuk, as well as several historically important individuals in their respective fields, such as Frédéric Chopin, Hilary Koprowski, Bohdan Paczyński, Bolesław Prus, Wacław Sierpiński, Alfred Tarski, Ludwik Zamenhof and Florian Znaniecki.


Beginnings under Alexander I (1816–1918)[edit]

Main gate on Krakowskie Przedmieście (2019)

In 1795, the partitions of Poland left Warsaw with access only to the Academy of Vilnius when the oldest and most influential Polish academic center, the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, became part of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy. In 1815, the newly established semi-autonomous polity of Congress Poland found itself without a university at all, as Vilnius was incorporated into the Russian Empire. In 1816, Alexander I permitted the Polish authorities to create a university, comprising five departments: Law and Administration, Medicine, Philosophy, Theology, and Art and Humanities. The university soon grew to 800 students and 50 professors. After most of the students and professors took part in the November 1830 Uprising the university was closed down; it was again closed after the failed January Uprising of 1863.[11] As a consequence, all Polish-language schools were prohibited by the Imperial Russian government which controlled Congress Poland. During its short existence, the university educated thousands of students, many of whom became part of the backbone of the Polish intelligentsia.[12]

Main University campus

In 1915, during the First World War, Warsaw was seized by German Empire and the occupying German authorities allowed a certain degree of liberalization to gain military support from the Poles. In accordance with the concept of Mitteleuropa, the Germans permitted several Polish social and educational societies to be recreated, including the University of Warsaw. The Polish language was reintroduced, but, in order to maintain Polish patriotic movement in control, the number of lecturers was kept low. No limits on the number of students; between 1915 and 1918 the number of alumni rose from a mere 1,000 to over 4,500.[13]

Second Polish Republic (1918–1939)[edit]

University of Warsaw Astronomical Observatory

After Poland regained its independence in 1918, the University of Warsaw began to grow very quickly. It was reformed; all the important posts (the rector, senate, deans and councils) became democratically elected, and the state spent considerable amounts of money to modernize and equip it. Many professors returned from exile and cooperated in the effort. By the late 1920s the level of education in Warsaw had reached that of western Europe.[14]

By the beginning of the 1930s the University of Warsaw had become the largest university in Poland, with over 250 lecturers and 10,000 students. However, the financial problems of the newly reborn state did not allow for free education, and students had to pay a tuition fee for their studies (an average monthly salary, for a year). Also, the number of scholarships was very limited, and only approximately 3% of students were able to get one. Despite these economic problems, the University of Warsaw grew rapidly. New departments were opened, and the main campus was expanded.[14] After the death of Józef Piłsudski the Senate of the University of Warsaw changed its name to "Józef Piłsudski University of Warsaw" (Uniwersytet Warszawski im. Józefa Piłsudskiego). The Sanacja government proceeded to limit the autonomy of the universities. Professors and students remained divided for the rest of the 1930s as the system of segregated seating for Jewish students, known as ghetto benches, was introduced.[15]

World War II (1939–1945)[edit]

University main gate, July 1944, when campus served as German military barracks

After the Polish Defensive War of 1939 the German authorities of the General Government closed all the institutions of higher education in Poland. The equipment and most of the laboratories were taken to Germany and divided amongst the German universities while the main campus of the University of Warsaw was turned into military barracks.[16]

German racial theories assumed that no education of Poles was needed and the whole nation was to be turned into uneducated serfs of the German race. Education in Polish was banned and punished with death. However, many professors organized the so-called "Secret University of Warsaw" (Tajny Uniwersytet Warszawski). The lectures were held in small groups in private apartments and the attendants were constantly risking discovery and death. However, the net of underground faculties spread rapidly and by 1944 there were more than 300 lecturers and 3,500 students at various courses.[citation needed]

Many students took part in the Warsaw Uprising as soldiers of the Armia Krajowa and Szare Szeregi. The German-held campus of the university was turned into a fortified area with bunkers and machine gun nests. It was located close to the buildings occupied by the German garrison of Warsaw. Heavy fights for the campus started on the first day of the Uprising, but the partisans were not able to break through the gates. Several assaults were bloodily repelled and the campus remained in German hands until the end of the fights. During the uprising and the occupation 63 professors were killed, either during fights or as an effect of German policy of extermination of Polish intelligentsia. The university lost 60% of its buildings during the fighting in 1944. A large part of the collection of priceless works of art and books donated to the university was either destroyed or transported to Germany, never to return.

Post-war and the People's Republic (1945–1989)[edit]

Kazimierz Palace, the university rectorate

After World War II it was not clear whether the university would be restored or whether Warsaw itself would be rebuilt. However, many professors who had survived the war returned, and began organizing the university from scratch. In December 1945, lectures resumed for almost 4,000 students in the ruins of the campus, and the buildings were gradually rebuilt. Until the late 1940s the university remained relatively independent. However, soon the communist authorities started to impose political controls, and the period of Stalinism started. Many professors were arrested by the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (Secret Police), the books were censored and ideological criteria in employment of new lecturers and admission of students were introduced. On the other hand, education in Poland became free of charge and the number of young people to receive the state scholarships reached 60% of all the students. After Władysław Gomułka's rise to power in 1956, a brief period of liberalization ensued, though communist ideology still played a major role in most faculties (especially in such faculties as history, law, economics, and political science). International cooperation was resumed and the level of education rose.[17]

By the mid-1960s the government started to suppress freedom of thought, which led to increasing unrest among the students. A political struggle within the communist party prompted Zenon Kliszko to ban the production of Dziady by Mickiewicz at the Teatr Narodowy, leading to 1968 Polish political crisis coupled with anti-Zionist and anti-democratic campaign and the outbreak of student demonstrations in Warsaw, which were brutally crushed – not by police, but by the ORMO reserve militia squads of plain-clothed workers.[18] As a result, a large number of students and professors were expelled from the university. Nonetheless, the university remained the centre of free thought and education. What professors could not say during lectures, they expressed during informal meetings with their students. Many of them became leaders and prominent members of the Solidarity movement and other societies of the democratic opposition which led to the collapse of communism. The scientists working at the University of Warsaw were also among the most prominent printers of books forbidden by censorship.[19]

Third Polish Republic (1989–present)[edit]

In 1999, a new University of Warsaw Library building was opened in Powiśle.[20]: 43  After Poland joined the European Union in 2004, the university obtained additional funds from the European Structural and Investment Funds for the construction of additional buildings including the Biological and Chemical Research Centre, Centre of New Technologies, and a new building for the Faculty of Physics.[20]: 5 

In recent years, the University of Warsaw has been ranked among best Polish universities. It was ranked by Perspektywy magazine as the best Polish university in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2019, and 2022.[21][22][23] ARWU ranked the university as the best Polish higher level institution in 2012, 2017, 2018, and 2020.[24] The university is especially well-regarded in science. ARWU ranked the mathematics and physics branches of the institution in the global top 150 and top 75, respectively, in 2022.[24]


University of Warsaw owns a total of 126 buildings. Further construction and a vigorous renovation program are underway at the main campus. The university is spread out over the city, though most of the buildings are concentrated in two areas.

Main campus[edit]

Warsaw University Library, on ulica Dobra
Nowy Świat-Uniwersytet metro station next to the main campus

The main campus of the University of Warsaw is in the city center, adjacent to the Krakowskie Przedmieście street. It comprises several historic palaces, most of which had been nationalized in the 19th century. The chief buildings include:

  • Kazimierzowski Palace (Pałac Kazimierzowski) – the seat of the rector and the Senate;
  • Uruski Palace (Pałac Uruskich) – left side of main gate entrance, houses the Department of Geography and Regional Studies
  • the Old Library (Stary BUW) – since recent refurbishment, a secondary lecture building;
  • the Main School (Szkoła Główna) – former seat of the Main School until the January 1863 Uprising, later the faculty of biology; now, since its refurbishment, the seat of the Institute of archaeology;
  • Auditorium Maximum – the main lecture hall, with seats for several hundred students.

The Warsaw University Library building is a short walk downhill from the main campus, in the Powiśle neighborhood.[25]

Natural sciences campus[edit]

The second important campus is located near Banacha and Pasteura streets. It is home to the departments of chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, computer science, and geology, and contains several other university buildings such as the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling, the Environmental Heavy Ion Laboratory that houses a cyclotron and a facility for the production of PET radiopharmaceuticals, and a sports facility. Several new buildings have been constructed within this campus in recent years, and the Department of Physics moved here from its previous location at Hoża Street.

Together with buildings of other institutions, such as the Institute of Experimental Biology, Radium Institute and the Medical University of Warsaw, the campus is part of an almost contiguous area of scientific and educational facilities covering approximately 43 hectares (110 acres).



There are 25 following faculties:[26]

  • Faculty of Applied Linguistics
  • Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Resocialisation
  • Faculty of Archaeology
  • Faculty of “Artes Liberales”
  • Faculty of Biology
  • Faculty of Chemistry
  • Faculty of Culture and Arts
  • Faculty of Economic Sciences
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies
  • Faculty of Geology
  • Faculty of History
  • Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies
  • Faculty of Law and Administration
  • Faculty of Management
  • Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Faculty of Oriental Studies
  • Faculty of Sociology
  • Faculty of Philosophy
  • Faculty of Physics
  • Faculty of Polish Studies
  • Faculty of Political Science and International Studies
  • Faculty of Psychology

Doctoral schools[27][edit]

  • Doctoral School of Humanities
  • Doctoral School of Social Sciences
  • Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary Doctoral School

Other academic units[28][edit]

  • Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Center
  • Biological and Chemical Research Centre
  • Center for Forensic Science
  • Centre for French Culture and Francophone Studies (French: Centre de Civilisation Francaise et d’Etudes Francophones)
  • University Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development
  • Centre for Europe
  • Centre for Foreign Language Teacher Training and European Education
  • Centre for Foreign Language Teaching
  • Digital Competence Centre
  • Centre of Migration Research
  • Centre of New Technologies
  • Centre for Political Analysis
  • UNESCO Chair Of Sustainable Development (French: Chaire UNESCO du Developpement Durable de l`Universite de Varsovie)
  • College of Inter-faculty Individual Studies in the Humanities
  • College of Inter-faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Digital Economy Lab
  • Erasmus of Rotterdam Chair
  • Heavy Ion Laboratory
  • Institute of Americas and Europe
  • Centre for European Regional and Local Studies
  • American Studies Centre
  • Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling
  • Robert Zajonc Institute for Social Studies
  • Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology
  • Tadeusz Mazowiecki Chair

Other institutions[29][edit]

  • "Kampus" Radio
  • University of Warsaw Archives
  • University of Warsaw Library
  • Center for Dialogue and Cooperation
  • University of Warsaw Choir
  • University of Warsaw Incubator
  • University of Warsaw Museum
  • "Hybrydy" Theatre
  • Dance Theatre, run by the University of Warsaw Song and Dance Ensemble "Warszawianka"
  • Friends of the University of Warsaw Association
  • Volunteer Centre of the University of Warsaw
  • University of Warsaw Press

In popular culture[edit]

  • In Ian Fleming's 1961 novel Thunderball, the ninth book in the James Bond series, one of the main characters, Ernst Stavro Blofeld who is the head of the global criminal organisation SPECTRE, is said to be a graduate of the University of Warsaw.[30]
  • In 2016, the Polish Post issued commemorative stamps on the 200th anniversary of the founding of the university depicting the Column Hall of the building of the Faculty of History.[31]

Notable people[edit]


Tadeusz Borowski
Frédéric Chopin
Witold Gombrowicz
Leonid Hurwicz
Ryszard Kapuściński
Leszek Kolakowski
Hilary Koprowski
Jerzy Pniewski
Bolesław Prus
Alfred Tarski
Olga Tokarczuk
Ludwik Zamenhof
Zygmunt Bauman
Jan Łukasiewicz
Yefim Karskiy
Kazimierz Michałowski
Wacław Sierpiński
Jerzy Szacki

Academic staff[edit]


  1. Wojciech Szweykowski (1818–1831)
  2. Józef Karol Skrodzki (1831)
  3. Józef Mianowski (1862–1869)
  4. Piotr Ławrowski (1869–1873)
  5. Nikołaj Błagowieszczański (1874–1884)
  6. Nikołaj Ławrowski (1884–1890)
  7. Michaił Szałfiejew (1895)
  8. Pawieł Kowalewski (1896)
  9. Grigorij Zenger (1896)
  10. Michaił Szałfiejew (1898)
  11. Grigorij Uljanow (1899–1903)
  12. Piotr Ziłow (1904)
  13. Yefim Karskiy (1905–1911)
  14. Wasilij Kudrewiecki (1911–1912)
  15. Iwan Trepicyn (1913)
  16. Siergiej Wiechow (1914–1915)
  17. Józef Brudziński (1915–1917)
  18. Antoni Kostanecki (1917–1919)
  19. Stanisław Thugutt (1919–1920)
  20. Jan Karol Kochanowski (1920–1921)
  21. Jan Mazurkiewicz (1921–1922)
  22. Jan Łukasiewicz (1922–1923)
  23. Ignacy Koschembahr-Łyskowski (1923–1924)
  24. Franciszek Krzyształowicz (1924–1925)
  25. Stefan Pieńkowski (1925–1926)
  26. Bolesław Hryniewiecki (1926–1927)
  27. Antoni Szlagowski (1927–1928)
  28. Gustaw Przychocki (1928–1929)
  29. Tadeusz Brzeski (1929–1930)
  30. Mieczysław Michałowicz (1930–1931)
  31. Jan Łukasiewicz (1931–1932)
  32. Józef Ujejski (1932–1933)
  33. Stefan Pieńkowski (1933–1936)
  34. Włodzimierz Antoniewicz (1936–1939)
  35. Jerzy Modrakowski (1939)
  36. Stefan Pieńkowski (1945–1947)
  37. Franciszek Czubalski (1947–1949)
  38. Jan Wasilkowski (1949–1952)
  39. Stanisław Turski (1952–1969)
  40. Zygmunt Rybicki (1969–1980)
  41. Henryk Samsonowicz (1980–1982)
  42. Kazimierz Albin Dobrowolski (1982–1985)
  43. Rector electus Klemens Szaniawski (1984)
  44. Grzegorz Białkowski (1985–1989)
  45. Andrzej Kajetan Wróblewski (1989–1993)
  46. Włodzimierz Siwiński (1993–1999)
  47. Piotr Węgleński (1999–2005)
  48. Katarzyna Chałasińska-Macukow (2005–2012)
  49. Marcin Pałys (2012–2020)
  50. Alojzy Nowak (since 2020)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facts and figures". uw.edu.pl. 21 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Higher education in the 2023/24 academic year" (in Polish). Statistics Poland. Retrieved 2024-06-29.
  3. ^ "ShanghaiRanking's Academic Ranking of World Universities".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "University of Warsaw". Top Universities.
  5. ^ "World University Rankings 2024". 25 September 2023. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  6. ^ a b "Best Global Universities in Poland". usnews.com. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "University of Warsaw". 30 October 2021.
  8. ^ "Best universities in Europe 2022". 22 September 2021.
  9. ^ "2022-2023 Best Global Universities in Europe". usnews. Retrieved 21 November 2022.
  10. ^ Redakcja (2012). "About Us". University of Warsaw (UW) homepage (in Polish and English). Uniwersytet Warszawski, Warsaw. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  11. ^ "University of Warsaw history (1816–1831), homepage". Archived from the original on January 9, 2013.
  12. ^ "University of Warsaw history (1857–1869), homepage". Archived from the original on January 9, 2013.
  13. ^ "University of Warsaw history (1915–1918), homepage". Archived from the original on January 9, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "University of Warsaw history (1918–1935), homepage". Archived from the original on January 9, 2013.
  15. ^ Markusz, Katarzyna (2019-10-08). "University of Warsaw students remember pre-WWII segregation of Jews". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  16. ^ "University of Warsaw history (1939–1944)" (in Polish). Uw.edu.pl. Archived from the original on 2013-01-09.
  17. ^ "University of Warsaw history (1945–1956), homepage". Archived from the original on January 9, 2013.
  18. ^ "March '68". Exhibition. Institute of National Remembrance. pp. 1–2. Introduction, followed by scans of articles. Retrieved June 2, 2012. The Voluntary Reserves of the Citizens' Militia (armed with cable and truncheons) beating the students, were met with shouts of "Gestapo!", "Gestapo!"
  19. ^ "University of Warsaw history (1956–1989), homepage". Archived from the original on January 9, 2013.
  20. ^ a b Łukaszewska, Katarzyna; Swatowska, Anna; Bieńko, Katarzyna; Korzekwa-Józefowicz, Anna; Laska, Olga (2018). University of Warsaw Main Sites, Facts and Figures Guidebook (PDF). ISBN 978-83-235-3014-5.
  21. ^ University Ranking at Perspektywy.pl Ranking uczelni akademickich 2011 with index. (in Polish).
  22. ^ University Ranking at Perspektywy.pl Ranking uczelni akademickich 2014 (in Polish)
  23. ^ "Ranking Uczelni Akademickich – Ranking Szkół Wyższych PERSPEKTYWY 2016". www.perspektywy.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 2017-06-03.
  24. ^ a b "University of Warsaw". www.shanghairanking.com. Retrieved 2022-12-30.
  25. ^ "10 lat Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej na Powiślu" (in Polish). Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  26. ^ "Faculties | University of Warsaw". en.uw.edu.pl. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  27. ^ "Doctoral Schools | University of Warsaw". en.uw.edu.pl. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  28. ^ "Academic units | University of Warsaw". en.uw.edu.pl. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  29. ^ "Inne jednostki | Uniwersytet Warszawski". um.edu.pl (in Polish). 22 January 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  30. ^ "The Bond Film Informant: Ernst Stavro Blofeld". Mjnewton.demon.co.uk. 28 May 2008. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  31. ^ "200 lat Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego" (in Polish). Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  32. ^ Emanuel Ringelblum: The Creator of "Oneg Shabbat" Holocaust Research Project.
  33. ^ Haven, Cynthia L. (2006). Czesław Miłosz: Conversations. University Press of Mississippi. pp. XXV. ISBN 9781578068296.

External links[edit]

52°14′25″N 21°1′9″E / 52.24028°N 21.01917°E / 52.24028; 21.01917