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A brief history

Sixteenth century

The University of Strasbourg was founded in the 16th century by Johannes Sturm, a protestant scholar. Sturm created a Protestant Gymnasium in 1538 with the mandate of disseminating knowledge, one of the core values of Humanism. Through the years, the Gymnasium progressively developed into an Academy and a University before it finally became the Royal University in 1631.

The imperial period

In 1870, Alsace and the Moselle department of Lorraine were annexed by the German Empire after the Franco-Prussian War. Strasbourg, capital city of the Reichsland (the Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine), experienced rapid growth and prosperity that lasted until the First World War. The University - which had become the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität - benefited from this development though the creation of libraries and institutes, the collaboration with eminent scholars and the diversification of academic disciplines. The traditions of research and openness to the world inherited from this period are still at the heart of the University’s values today.

The Second World War

The University became French again in 1918, but was relocated in Clermont-Ferrand during the Second World War as Alsace was annexed one more time. Many students and teachers from Strasbourg became involved in the Resistance. Among them was an important figure of the University’s history: Marc Bloch, a history professor who was tortured and executed for his actions as a Resistance leader. The University came back to Strasbourg after the Liberation and was awarded the Medal of Resistance in 1947.


From the 1970s to the university merger

In 1971, the University of Strasbourg was divided into three universities: 

  • Strasbourg I (Université Louis Pasteur), gathering the scientific disciplines
  • Strasbourg II (Université Marc Bloch en 1998)  which brought together the faculties and departments of arts, literature and humanities
  • Strasbourg III (Université Robert Schuman en 1987) dedicated to fields of law, politics, social sciences and technologies

Over nearly two decades, the universities laid the groundwork for inter-university cooperation, strengthened over time by jointly designed and managed projects. Backed by this experience, the three universities decided to take a further step by uniting their potential for instruction and research within a single university.

The three universities finally merged again in 2009 and became l’Université de Strasbourg,a unique and pioneering example of merging universities in France, aiming to enhance international exposure and to develop the multidisciplinary aspects of education and research.  


Strasbourg is the second most international university city in France (after Paris). Today, the University of Strasbourg counts 42000 students, offers initial and further education in a wide range of academic fields and is an international player in scientific research.


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