University of Paris


July 5, 2022

The University of Paris (French: Université de Paris), also known as the Sorbonne, was the University of Paris until 1970. After the events of May 1968, the university was split and re-established as thirteen separate universities. In 2019, there are twelve successors to the Sorbonne in Paris, such as University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the new Sorbonne Université, which still share many facilities and have taken over the worldwide reputation.


The University was founded around 1150. In 1253 Robert de Sorbon founded a theological faculty (the name Sorbonne comes from this college). In 1271 it was expanded with faculties of philosophy and arts. The law faculty was later established separately from the university. The old Sorbonne was closed at the outbreak of the French Revolution and reopened in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte. After the student riots of 1968, the university was divided into 13 separate universities in 1970. Five of these universities (Paris I - Paris V), namely Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Pantheon-Assas University, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris-Sorbonne University and Paris-Descartes University originated from the old Sorbonne. The Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences-Po) is sometimes referred to as Paris XIV. Together with the so-called Grandes Écoles and other higher education institutions in Paris, the University of Paris is part of the Academie de Paris. The Parisian university can be regarded as the result of the outflanking of the (vulnerable) particularistic scientific mind by that of centralization. The forerunners of the University of Paris were (until about 1150) (a) the cathedral schools of Notre-Dame, which were under the administration of the chancellor and, through this, actually came under the bishop of Paris; (b) the schools of the canons of St. Victor, the living center of mysticism, where William of Champeaux had opened a school, and, (c), the outer schools of St. Genoveva Abbey. But the schools of Notre-Dame occupied the first place among these three, and it was mainly from there that the university grew. In the beginning the design was such that the faculty of the arts was called the lower faculty (facultas inferior), because it gave the right to admit the other faculties (facultates superiores). The normal age at which one could start at the arts faculty was around the age of fourteen, while one obtained a doctorate around the age of twenty and often transferred to one of the other faculties. The study was organized according to the guild model, so there were masters and apprentices. The stages that the pupil went through in his six years of formation were the baccalaureate (baccalaureus'), the licentiate (licentiatus), and finally the mastery (magister). As with all guilds, the student was the apprentice (of the professorship). He was a candidate for mastery, and the candidate becomes a professor by imitating him, as an apprentice stonemason becomes master by imitating his master. The guild system itself arose mainly around the construction of major architectural works, the construction of churches and cathedrals.

Dissolution of the university

After the events of May '68 (and for other reasons too), a major reform of higher education in France was deemed necessary. The Faure law made this possible. It invited the professors to divide and disperse as they saw fit within the teaching units and research. Then, according to the various scientific domains, they would reunite in new educational institutions. Initially, the rearrangements were still very sensitive politically due to the sharp contradictions that had still not been tempered after an eventful May '68. The University of Paris therefore had to be dissolved, resulting in