UNIDU History

Higher education history and scientific and research activity

The beginnings of higher education and scientific and research activity in Dubrovnik go back to the distant past, which is especially true for maritime, social and natural sciences. As early as in 1458, Beno Kotruljević from Dubrovnik had written his four books ‘Of Commerce and the Perfect Marchant’ (published later on, i.e. in 1573 in Venice), which was the first such work until that time. Nikola Sagroević, also a citizen of the then Republic of Ragusa (Respublica Ragusii, 1358 – 1815), was the first Croat to write a book on navigation (published in 1574). In 1624, the Jesuits established the ‘Collegium Rhagusinum’, and in 1654 the Senate of the Republic of Ragusa promulgated it into a public institution of higher learning for the study of arts and sciences. Ruđer Bošković, the most famous Croatian scientist and the precursor of the dynamic theory of atoms, studied at Collegium Rhagusinum before going to Rome for his doctoral studies. In 1793, the Senate of the Republic of Ragusa allowed young noblemen to study navigation science and commerce so that they could apply their professional knowledge in the navigation beyond the Adriatic Sea.

Collegium Rhagusinum

The Collegium Rhagusinum was the forerunner of the modern higher education in Dubrovnik. The establishment of the Faculty of Maritime Studies and, somewhat later, of the Faculty for Tourism and Foreign Trade marked a new period of the modern education in Dubrovnik. The higher education in Dubrovnik went through various stages, with high points and low. However, the City has always been keen on preserving its identity in all aspects, which is also true when it comes to the higher education in Dubrovnik.

In 1994, when the Croatian Parliament passed the new Act on Higher Education Institutions, which had introduced two separate higher education profiles: one scientific, i.e. university-level, and the other professional, i.e. polytechnic-level, it was quite clear that it would not be easy to implement it in practice as all new things are met with resistance.

Recognizing the advantages of introducing a professional study programme in Croatia with tangible elements as in similar types of higher education throughout the Western Europe, the then Faculty of Maritime Studies in Dubrovnik had accepted this challenge, and the activities for establishing the Polytechnic of Dubrovnik began. Although this path was neither quick nor smooth, two years later Dubrovnik saw the founding of the Polytechnic of Dubrovnik. This was the first public polytechnic in Croatia, established by a resolution of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on 12 December 1996. The Polytechnic was based on the cornerstones of the higher education of seafarers in Dubrovnik stretching back to 1959 and the foundation of the Seafarers College. In 1984, this college was transformed into the Faculty of Maritime Studies in Dubrovnik. Until the foundation of the Polytechnic of Dubrovnik, this Faculty had been part of the University of Split.

Proposal for Founding the University of Dubrovnik

In the spirit of the signed DIESC Charter (Dubrovnik International Science and Education Centre Charter) and with the wish to promote the importance of higher education and science in Dubrovnik, in January 2021 the Polytechnic prepared the Proposal for Founding the University of Dubrovnik.

Evaluating that the basic preconditions for a possible establishment of the university had been met, the chancellor’s office of the Polytechnic of Dubrovnik commenced elaborating the vision for the development of higher education and science in Dubrovnik. Based on this proposal and in cooperation with the representatives of the Dubrovnik’s Faculty of Tourism and Foreign Trade, the Feasibility Study for the Foundation of the University of Dubrovnik was compiled.

The Study was met with a wide approval from both the local community and all relevant institutions as well as a positive evaluation of the National Council for Higher Education. Upon the proposal of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Government of the Republic of Croatia gave its unanimous support to the Bill on Founding of the University of Dubrovnik, which the Croatian Parliament unanimously enacted on 1 October 2003.

On 16 December 2003, the Commercial Court of Dubrovnik entered the University of Dubrovnik in its Court Register, whereby the University was granted its legal status. The foundation of the University of Dubrovnik was the pinnacle of achievements of numerous individuals and institutions that had been systematically and continuously working on developing the higher education in Dubrovnik.

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