The University of Lucerne – from its 'birth' to the present day
The University of Lucerne opened its doors on 1st October 2000 with the entry into force of the cantonal university legislation, which was approved by the voters of Lucerne in a referendum on 21st May of that year with a majority of 72 percent.
In 2000, the university commenced with the two existing faculties of Theology and Humanities. One year later, the Faculty of Law opened, and was followed in 2016 with the Economics Faculty and 2019 the Department Health Sciences and Medicine. The student numbers steadily grew over this period from 250 to 3500 in the 2019/20 academic year.
The University of Lucerne has successfully developed itself in the first twenty years of its existence into a focussed university in the human sciences and it ideally complements the technical universities and full universities of Switzerland.
You can find out more about the development of the University of Lucerne in the audio contribution or in the complete text "The University of Lucerne – from its 'birth' to the present day".
The University of Lucerne was founded in 2000. The official "date of birth" being 1st October 2000, the date on which the University Act came into force.
The University’s "youth years" were marked by strong growth. When it was founded, there were two faculties; these distinct units organized according to discipline were the Faculty of Theology and the Faculty of Humanities. On the University’s first birthday in autumn 2001, the newly founded Faculty of Law took up its teaching. Later, new subjects and thus new organisational units were added. These were the Faculty of Economics in 2016, and the Department of Health Sciences and Medicine in 2019, within which the first master's students in Medicine started their training in autumn 2020.
The establishment of a new university has the advantage that much can be planned from scratch, without having to carry old ballast. In 1999, Switzerland co-signed the Lisbon Declaration. This heralded the so-called Bologna Reform, the reform of the European higher education area. The newly founded University of Lucerne took advantage of this opportunity and was the first Swiss university to offer a Bologna course in Law.
A wide variety of disciplines has come together at the University to offer multi- and interdisciplinary courses. In these courses, social issues are not only analysed from the perspective of one discipline; instead, they are understood as a system. To understand such systems, different disciplinary perspectives combine and a wide variety of scientific methods is applied. These so-called integrated study programmes have become a trademark of the University of Lucerne. They provide its graduates with the necessary tools for the future challenges in the professional world. In addition to the interdisciplinary aspects, different linguistic and cultural perspectives are also valuable. Thus, the University of Lucerne also offers several courses in cooperation with other universities – both in French-speaking Switzerland and abroad.
The understanding of such systems is also eminent in research. For example, the University promotes internal research foci in which academics jointly examine current social issues. These include the transformation of the family in the context of migration and globalization, or the role of religion as a factor for social integration. Today, researchers at the University of Lucerne are globally networked and recognized.
The University of Lucerne also cooperates well with the other higher education institutions in the city. For example, it operates joint programmes for students and staff, such as University Sports and the Campus Orchestra, together with the Lucerne University of Teacher Education and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
In teaching and research, the University works closely with many regional stakeholders from the health sector, such as the Paraplegic Centre in Nottwil as well as Lucerne's hospitals. In addition, the University offers joint continuing education courses in leadership, for example with the Army Training Centre in Lucerne or the International Red Cross in Geneva.
Overall, in the last 20 years, the University of Lucerne has developed into a focussed university in the human sciences, and it ideally complements the technical universities and full universities of Switzerland.
After 20 years, there is much to be pleased about. This in the knowledge that the University of Lucerne, which had started out with fewer than 300 students in its founding year in 2000, today counts 3,500 students. With four Faculties, a Department and two Academies, it has a successful launching phase behind it and is ready to master the challenges of the future.