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The History of the University
The history of the present University of West Hungary goes back several centuries. It is now the 6th biggest university of Hungary with ten faculties after a long development process of its legal predecessors with a great past.
The years of establishment (1735-1808-1846)
Forestry higher education, the long established field of study, the core of education of the university started in the institute founded for mining and metallurgy education. They had a common development for several years. Leading technical, legal and administrative experts were needed for mining and metallurgy in the Habsburg Empire, mining officers had to be trained. The School for Training Mining Officers was founded by the decree of Charles III, signed on 22nd June, 1735 in Selmecbánya.
The education was regulated by several decrees of the Treasury. One or the other discipline was highlighted according to the needs of the era, with emphasis on practical training. The school had to undergo fundamental changes to meet the economic requirements, and it became a higher educational institution. Maria Theresa laid down the basis for academic education by her decree signed on 22nd October, 1762. In 1763 the first department was established for teaching mineralogy, metallurgy and chemistry; in 1765 the second department was formed for teaching mathematics, physics and mechanics; in 1770 the third department was created to serve the practical training in mining and metallurgy.
On 14th April, 1770, the Royal Court notified the government of Selmecbánya County, that the Imperial and Royal Mining Academy, which had three departments, had been founded by the monarch. The deed of foundation described the compulsory course of education in detail.
In the course of education, teaching forestry became ever more important, since the safety of mines, metallurgy, mineral production, smelting of metal required both wood and the knowledge of forests. This deed of foundation ordered students of mining and metallurgy to study forestry. The sovereign emphasised that “teaching forestry culture should receive special attention, because this culture is essential for mining”. This sentence brought a change at the academy, because in the third academic year forestry was included in the curriculum. The famous professor of exploitation of mines, Christoph Traugott Delius, gave lectures on forestry.
A joint meeting of the Treasury and the Chamber of Royal Mint and Mining in June 1807, discussed the establishment of a Forestry School, beside the Mining Academy. On 30th August, 1807, they ordered the foundation of the Forestry School. On 5th January, 1808, the Hungarian chancellery was also notified, and it was announced that Heinrich David Wilckens, professor of the Bechstein-type forestry school, one of the most famous polyhistors of Europe of his age, was appointed professor and Imperial and Royal Mining Councillor. He held his first lecture after swearing his oath of office, on 12th February, 1809. He taught students forestry “in its entirety”. Upon the death of Wilckens, Rudolf Feistmantel became professor of forestry until the summer of 1847, followed by Frigyes Ignác Schwarz.
In 1846 the Forestry School was integrated into the Academy of Mining, which was renamed the Imperial and Royal Academy of Mining and Forestry.
The 1848 Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence made a great impression on the teachers and students of the academy, and there was an attempt to change the language of education and administration from German to Hungarian. Unfortunately this attempt failed.
Hungarian Royal Mining and Forestry Academy, Hungarian Royal Mining and Forestry College in Selmecbánya (1867-1918)
After the 1867 Compromise, the Academy became a Hungarian state institution, thus decreasing its international importance.
From 1872 the academy operated within a new organisational structure, the first independent forestry department was founded at that time. A new reform in 1904 formed a unified forestry section. The name of the institution became The Hungarian Royal Mining and Forestry College.
With the outbreak of World War I, there was a big rupture in the life of the college. The last lectures started on 6th October, 1918, but the academic year could not be finished. As a result of the peace treaty after the war, Selmecbánya was not a Hungarian town anymore; it belonged to the new Czechoslovakia. Moving from the ancestral residence started in autumn 1918 following a resolution of the council of the college, and a decree of the Ministry of Finance.
The college in Sopron. Organisational changes (1919-1950)
Thanks to the resoluteness of under-secretary of state Hugó Laehne and Mayor Mihály Thurner, the town of Sopron provided a new home for the college. The first group of students arrived in March 1919, led by the Rector, Géza Réz. Lectures first started at the Charles Barracks on 28th April. On 3rd February, 1922, it moved to its present location, when the buildings and park of the Hungarian Military School were provided for the college.
The college was renamed the Hungarian Royal College for Mining and Forestry in 1922, showing its expanded education programme. In 1923 the reorganisation of the college started. A new curriculum and schedule came into effect and 10 new departments were formed.
In 1934 the Hungarian Royal József Nádor University of Technology and Economics was established, and the college was integrated into this university, based in Budapest, as the Faculty of Mining, Metallurgy and Forestry. A new curriculum was introduced, and the number of departments was decreased.
World War II caused a lot of damage, but the relocation to Germany was avoided. Lecturing started again in April, 1945.
In 1949 the independent Land-Surveying Engineering education started. It was later integrated into the Technical University of Budapest. As a new technical university was founded in Miskolc, the Faculty of Mining and Metallurgy moved there. The moving of the latter two faculties lasted more than 10 years.
Forestry College, University of Forestry and Wood Sciences, University of Sopron (1952-2000)
From 1952 the Faculty of Forestry operated as an independent Forestry College with a university rank. In 1956 the storm of history dealt a severe blow to the college. After the defeat of the revolution, a large proportion of teachers and students left the country. Most of them went to Canada, where they formed the Sopron Division of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, and finished their studies there. Others went to Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
In 1957 the training of wood industry engineers started. On 1st September, 1962, the University of Forestry and Wood Sciences was established with two faculties. In 1971 production engineering training started for students of wood industry. In 1972 the university opened a new faculty, the Székesfehérvár Land-Surveying and Land Management College Faculty. A postgraduate course for paper industry engineering began in 1985.
In 1992 the basis for independent economic training was founded by the establishment of the Institute of Economics and Business Management Development.
After long preparatory work in 1994 the Institute of Applied Arts was founded, and training of artists began at the Faculty of Wood Sciences.
On 1st September, 1996, the university changed its name to The University of Sopron.
University of West Hungary (2000-2007) (2008- )
Due to the rationalisation policy of the Hungarian higher education the university was expanded by incorporating the Apáczai Csere János Faculty of Győr, the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences of Mosonmagyaróvár and the Benedek Elek Faculty of Pedagogy of Sopron in 2000. On 1st January 2008, it incorporated the Berzsenyi Dániel College of Szombathely. Since the union the University of West Hungary has its headquarters in Sopron, and operates 10 faculties in 5 cities.
The Magyaróvár Private School of Agriculture, the legal predecessor of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences was established by Prince Albert Casimir of Saxony, Duke of Teschen on the proposal of Antal Wittmann on 25th October, 1818. The period of training was two years. Language of education was Latin in the beginning, later it became German.
The Vienna College of Agriculture (today’s Universität für Bodenkultur Wien) was separated from the Alma Mater in 1872. In 1874 it was the highest level higher educational institution under the name of Hungarian Royal Academy of Agriculture.
It is a great merit of the professors of the close of the 19th century that they successfully combined education and research. As a result the Experimental Station for Agricultural Appliances and Machines, the Meteorological Observatory, the Sowing Seed Testing Station, the Experimental Station for Plant Cultivation, the Veterinary Station, the Plant Physiology and Pathology Station, the Royal Dairy Experimental Station, the National Plant Breeding Institute, the Chemical Experimental Station and the Cattle Breeders’ Association were established. Most of them operate now in Budapest or elsewhere.
In 1942 the Academy of Agriculture was changed into a college with a four year training period. After World War II the college was annexed to the University of Agriculture of Budapest. Training was eliminated in 1949. Education resumed in the Academy of Agriculture in 1954, which later became the Mosonmagyaróvár College of Agriculture and then the Faculty of Agriculture of the Pannonian University of Agriculture. Besides the traditional agricultural engineering course, a food quality assurance agricultural course started in 1994, and an agricultural economics course started in 1995. Since 1st January, 2000 the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences has belonged to the University of West Hungary.
Teacher training in Győr started at the time of the reign of Maria Theresa. In 1778 on the basis of the decree of “Ratio Educationis” the second master course started in Hungary in the National School of the city of Győr. From 1959 it operated as a tertiary level institution. In 1975 it was qualified as a college. On the 200th anniversary of teacher training in Győr, the institute took the name of Apáczai Csere János, the great school organiser and scholarly teacher. The institute became a faculty of the University of West Hungary on 1st January, 2000.
“The Sisters Named after the Redeemer” trained teachers and kindergarten teachers at the secondary level in Sopron in 1899. The secondary level was replaced by a tertiary level in 1959, and by a college level in 1989. The institute bearing the name of Elek Benedek, the children’s story writer, has operated as a faculty of the University of West Hungary since 1st January, 2000.
The history of the Savaria Campus started with the establishment of teacher training in Szombathely in 1958, and has covered more than half a century. (The institute regards the teacher training institutes of Pápa and Kőszeg as its legal predecessors.) In 1959 tertiary level training started in Szombathely; in 1974 the Teacher Training College of Szombathely was founded, which took the name of Dániel Berzsenyi in 1984. In 2002 the institute was divided into three faculties. Because of the changes in the training structure, and after the merger of the Berzsenyi Dániel College with the University of West Hungary, the Savaria Campus was established within the university on 1st January, 2008. It comprises the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Natural and Technical Sciences and the Faculty of Artistic, Pedagogy and Sports Sciences.
The history of the Faculty of Geoinformatics started in Székesfehérvár in 1962 with land-surveying education following the secondary school final examination in the Land Surveying Technical High School. In 1972 with joining the University of Forestry and Wood Sciences located in Sopron, the training came back home, as the cradle of the certified education of land-surveying engineers was in Sopron. Based on the decision of the Council of Ministers, the Faculty of Land-Surveying and Land Management was founded in Székesfehérvár. Since 2006 the institute has operated as Faculty of Geoinformatics. The Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development presented the faculty with the title of Land- and Geoinformation Knowledge Centre.
Training of economists started in Sopron in 1995. The Faculty of Economics was founded in 2000, and since its foundation it has assisted in cherishing the traditions characteristic of the University of West Hungary and its predecessor, the Academy of Selmecbánya. Located in the former treasury palace, one of the most beautiful buildings of the inner city, the faculty contributes to the intellectual life of the city with its high standard of training.