The Comenius University was established in 1919 with assistance from the more established University of Prague. It was meant to replace the former Elisabeth University which was located in Bratislava since 1912 as the latter has been forcefully disbanded in 1919 by Samuel Zoch, plenipotentiary župan of Slovakia, after Hungarian professors refused to take an oath of allegiance at that time in the First Czechoslovak Republic. This has caused the majority of the university’s professors (and some of the students) to take refuge in Budapest, where the Elisabeth University was reestablished. It has been later moved to Pécs and renamed to University of Pécs. This persecution of former (predominantly Hungarian) pillars of education in Bratislava necessitated the recruitment of Czech academicians. Therefore, many professors of the newly established university, including its first rector, Prof. MUDr. Kristian Hynek, were Czechs, since Slovakia at that time did not have enough educated Slovak speakers who could serve as faculty members. In spite of personnel, financial, and space difficulties, the university developed research and teaching programs. The Faculty of Medicine opened in 1919, and was quickly followed by the Faculties of Law and Philosophy in 1921. The Faculty of Philosophy, besides offering programs in the humanities and social science, also educated much-needed teachers for Slovakia’s high schools.
In 1937, a new university building for the Faculties of Law and Philosophy was opened in the centre of Bratislava. The building includes the Aula (hall) used for graduation ceremonies and other formal functions.
During World War II, Slovakia became nominally a republic, but was actually under the sway of Nazi Germany. The government reduced academic freedoms at the university, and the Czech professors were forced out. The university was renamed Slovak University in 1939, though the original name was reinstated in 1954. The Faculty of Science opened in 1940 and the Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology was established in 1941. Academic freedom returned after the end of the war in 1945 but was again cancelled in 1948 as the communists took power in Czechoslovakia, enforcing the ideology of Marxism-Leninism at Czechoslovak universities. The Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology was taken under direct control of the Ministry of Education.
However, the university continued to grow, and new faculties were established (mostly by splitting the existing faculties):
- Faculty of Education in 1946,
- Faculty of Pharmacy in 1952,
- Faculty of Physical Education and Sports in 1960,
- Faculty of Medicine in Martin in 1969,
- Faculty of Mathematics and Physics in 1980.
After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the university created a democratic self-government, and mandatory courses on Marxist ideology were abolished. The Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology and the Evangelical Theological Faculty joined the university.
The transformation of Slovakia into a market economy created a need for professionals in management and financial sciences. As a result, the university established the Faculty of Management 1991 and the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences in 2002. In 2000, the European credit transfer system was implemented to improve student mobility and facilitate more ties with other European universities.
Comenius University in Bratislava is a modern European university which in 2019 celebrated its 100th anniversary. It is the only Slovak university to be regularly ranked in the international rankings of the best universities in the world. With thirteen faculties, it offers the widest selection of study programmes (over 800) at three levels, and several of these study programmes are the only ones of their kind offered in Slovakia. There is a wide range of areas of human knowledge to choose from when studying, be it in medicine, the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences, mathematics, theology, and much more.
Comenius University is a research institution that runs hundreds of domestic and international research projects. As a result, many of the students engage in important research during their studies and can actively participate in projects, grants, and professional internships (including abroad).
Every year Comenius University sends the highest number of students abroad out of all Slovak universities, and it receives the most international students, including from such places as Germany, Norway, Greece, Iran, Austria, and Iceland.
The Comenius University’s fundamental mission is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and its understanding.
As a UNIVERSITY, it is a scientific institution in which research opens up new horizons and at the same time enhances knowledge transfer.
As a UNIVERSITY, it distinguishes itself from other research centres by its autonomous statement of problems, by the disinterested character of fundamental research, by its focus on education and by the fact that within its walls it encompasses almost all the scientific disciplines.
As a UNIVERSITY, it distinguishes itself from other educational institutions by the fact that its teaching is based on and nourished by, its own research and the world-wide scientific knowledge and by its interdisciplinary approach to solving problems.
As a UNIVERSITY, it defines its tasks and priorities autonomously, and the members of its academic community enjoy academic freedom in the exercise of their duties.
As a UNIVERSITY, it is a guarantee of freedom and democracy not only within its walls. One of its fundamental duties is to broaden and disseminate this mission also in the outside environment.
As a UNIVERSITY, it is its duty to defend its academic freedom and autonomy.
As a higher education institution which aspires to be a member of leading European centres of academic excellence and as an INTERNATIONALLY ORIENTED UNIVERSITY, the university’s core strategic objectives are:
- To sustain and develop its identity as a research and teaching institution of the highest international quality;
- To provide an outstanding educational environment, supporting study across a broad range of academic disciplines;
- To produce graduates not only with high personal and professional achievement but also with high human qualities;
- To enhance the scientific and cultural vision of society as well as its economic well-being.
As a CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE, the University pays special attention to the steady evaluation of its research and teaching in order to ensure that its students are lead by outstanding experts – researchers and lecturers.
As the greatest, oldest and outstanding NATIONAL UNIVERSITY of the Slovak Republic, Comenius University especially values its intellectual and universal relationship with the Slovak nation, where it has its roots and at the same time provides the foundation from which it will continue to look to the widest international horizons, enriching both itself and Slovakia.
Source: Comenius University