The Sapienza University of Rome

The Sapienza University of Rome is a research university that is located in Rome, Italy. Formally known as Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”, it is one of the largest European universities by enrollments and one of the oldest in history, founded in 1303. The University is one of the most prestigious Italian universities and in the world, commonly ranking first in national rankings and in Southern Europe. In 2018 it ranked first in the world for classics and ancient history.

Most of the Italian ruling class studied at Sapienza. Sapienza educated numerous notable alumni, including many Nobel laureates, Presidents of the European Parliament and European Commissioners, heads of several nations, notable religious figures, scientists and astronauts. In September 2018, it was included in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings Graduate Employability Ranking.

Sapienza University of Rome was founded in 1303 with the Papal bull In Supremae praeminentia Dignitatis, issued on 20 April 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, as a Studium for ecclesiastical studies more under his control than the universities of Bologna and Padua, making it the first pontifical university. In 1431 Pope Eugene IV completely reorganized the studium with the bull In supremae, in which he granted masters and students alike the broadest possible privileges and decreed that the university should include the four schools of Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. He introduced a new tax on wine to raise funds for the university; the money was used to buy a palace which later housed the Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza church.

However, the University’s days of splendour came to an end during the sack of Rome in 1527, when the studium was closed and the professors dispersed, and some were killed. Pope Paul III restored the university shortly after his ascension to the pontificate in 1534. In the 1650s the university became known as Sapienza, meaning wisdom, a title it retains. In 1703, Pope Clement XI purchased some land with his private funds on the Janiculum, where he made a botanical garden, which soon became the most celebrated in Europe through the labours of the Trionfetti brothers. The first complete history of the Sapienza University was written in 1803–1806 by Filippo Maria Renazzi.

University students were newly animated during the 19th-century Italian revival. In 1870, La Sapienza stopped being the papal university and became the university of the capital of Italy. In 1935 the new university campus, planned by Marcello Piacentini, was completed. On 15 January 2008 the Vatican cancelled a planned visit to La Sapienza University by Pope Benedict XVI who was to speak at the university ceremony launching the 2008 academic year due to protests by some students and professors. The title of the speech would have been ‘The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness is Truth’. Some students and professors protested in reaction to a 1990 speech that Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) gave in which he, in their opinion, endorsed the actions of the church against Galileo in 1633.

Sapienza University has many campuses in Rome, but its main campus is the Città Universitaria (University city), which covers 44 ha (110 acres) near the Roma Tiburtina Station. The university has satellite campuses outside Rome, the main one of which is in Latina. In 2011 a project was launched to build a campus with residence halls near Pietralata station, in collaboration with the Lazio region.[16] To cope with the ever-increasing number of applicants, the Rector also approved a new plan to expand the Città Universitaria, reallocate offices and enlarge faculties, as well as create new campuses for hosting local and foreign students. The Alessandrina University Library (Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina), built in 1667 by Pope Alexander VII, is the main library housing 1.5 million volumes; it has some important collections including collezione ciceroniana and Fondo Festa.

The Sapienza Strategic Plan describes the development objectives set by the university. Sapienza University has published a Strategic Plan since 2007. The first Strategic Plan 2007-2012 provided an opportunity to define the mission, vision and values of Sapienza University. The second report for 2012-2015 reinterpreted the strategic role of the university, especially in terms of the new regulations and the internal re-organisation. The Strategic Plan for 2016-21 was produced at a time of prolonged economic crisis with the consequent reduction in public university funding. Therefore, even more than before, it represents a fundamental tool to invest in the future and an opportunity to redefine university strategies: education, research, internationalisation and the right to study. 

Source: The Sapienza University of Rome

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European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.