Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
University museumPart of University of Groningen

University museum

The History of the University of Groningen


Academy Building of 1614
Academy Building of 1614


The university was founded in 1614, but the city had a great tradition in education even before then. The Sint Maartenschool, a so-called Latin School, was famous throughout the country and even further: people came from as far away as France, Italy and Poland to study here with Groningers from the city and province.

However, if someone from Groningen wanted a university education, then they had to go abroad. Cologne, Leuven and Paris were the best universities for Theology; Bologna, Bourges, Cologne and Orleans all had a good reputation for Law; prospective medical student could get the best education at the universities of Montpellier and Salerno.

detail portrait Uboo Emmius

Provincial College 1614-1815

The council of the province Groningen and the Ommelanden, as the current province of Groningen was then known, founded the university on 23 August 1614. The university began with six professors for the faculties of Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. The first Rector Magnificus was Ubbo Emmius (1547-1625), who was also a professor of Greek and History.


Academy Building of 1850

State College 1815-1876

The founding of the ‘Kingdom of the Netherlands’ in 1815 saw the Universities of Groningen, Leiden and Utrecht being changed into Rijkshogescholen (State Colleges).


Academy Building of 1909

State University 1877 - today

The Higher Education Act of 1876 had an enormous impact upon the development of the university. The State College was renamed a State University (Rijksuniversiteit) and Latin was no longer the official language, as it was replaced by Dutch. The university was to continue its educational activities but also take on research responsibilities.


Last modified:13 August 2021 3.17 p.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands