The St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia or Sofia University is the oldest higher education institution in Bulgaria, founded on 1 October 1888. The university’s edifice was constructed between 1924 and 1934 with the financial support of the brothers Evlogi Georgiev and Hristo Georgiev, whose sculptures are now featured on its façade, and has an area of 18,624 m² and a total of 324 premises.
The St. Clement of Ohrid University of Sofia or Sofia University (Bulgarian: Софийски университет „Св. Климент Охридски“, Sofiyski universitet „Sv. Kliment Ohridski“) is the oldest higher education institution in Bulgaria, founded on 1 October 1888. The university’s edifice was constructed between 1924 and 1934 with the financial support of the brothers Evlogi Georgiev and Hristo Georgiev, whose sculptures are now featured on its façade, and has an area of 18,624 m² and a total of 324 premises.
Sofia University has 16 faculties and three departments, where 14,000 students receive their education. In addition, it also disposes of a university library, a university press, a computer centre, a sports centre and several other structures. The current rector is Ivan Ilchev. Sofia University is ranked 754th in the world and 325th in Europe by the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.
The university was founded on 1 October 1888, 10 years after the Liberation of Bulgaria, to serve as Bulgaria’s primary institution of higher education. Initially, it had 4 regular and 3 additional lecturers and 49 students. It was founded as a higher pedagogical course, it became a higher school after a few months and a university in 1904. The first rector was Bulgarian linguist Aleksandar Teodorov-Balan.
During Sofia University’s first years, it had three faculties, a Faculty of History and Philology (since 1888), a Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (since 1889) and a Faculty of Law (since 1892). History, geography, Slavic philology, philosophy and pedagogics, mathematics and physics, chemistry, natural sciences and law were taught. The first women, 16 in number, were welcomed to the university in 1901, and 25 November (8 December O.S.), the day of St Clement of Ohrid, became the university’s official holiday the following year.
In 1907, as Prince Ferdinand opened the National Theatre, he was booed by Sofia University students, for which the university was closed for 6 months and all lecturers were fired. Not until a new government with Aleksandar Malinov at the head came into power in January 1908 was the crisis resolved.
At the beginning of the Balkan Wars, 1,379 students (725 men and 654 women) were recorded to attend the university. A fourth faculty was established in 1917, the Faculty of Medicine, the fifth, the Faculty of Agronomy following in 1921, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Faculty of Theology being founded in 1923. In 1922–1923, Sofia University had 111 chairs, 205 lecturers and assistants and 2,388 students, of which 1,702 men and 686 women.
The foundation stone of Sofia University’s new edifice was laid on 30 June 1924. Funds were secured by the brothers Evlogi Georgiev and Hristo Georgiev. The rectorate was built according to the initial plans of the French architect Henri Bréançon, who had won a competition for the purpose in 1907. The plans were developed by Nikola Lazarov and revised by Yordan Milanov, who also directed the construction, but died before the official opening on 16 December 1934.
The first doctoral thesis of the university was defended on 27 October 1929 in natural sciences and by Vasil Tsankov. The second one, in chemistry, followed on 1 July 1930 by Aleksandar Spasov. In 1930–1931, the university had four more doctors.
After the political changes of 9 September 1944 and the emergence of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, radical alterations were made in the university system of the country. At that time, 1944–45, 13,627 students attended the university, taught by 182 professors and readers and 286 assistants. Communist professors were introduced to the higher ranks of university authority, with others that did not share these views being removed. Specific party-related chairs were established and the university was restricted after the Soviet model. Three new faculties were founded in 1947, one of forestry, one of zootechnics and one of economics and major changes occurred, with many departments seceding in later years to form separate institutions.
The Sofia University Mountains on Alexander Island, Antarctica were named for the university in commemoration of its centennial celebrated in 1988, and in appreciation of the university’s contribution to the Antarctic exploration.
Faculties and departments
The Sofia University offers a wide range of degrees in 16 faculties:
- Faculty of Biology
- Faculty of Chemistry
- Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology
- Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
- Faculty of Education
- Faculty of Geology and Geography
- Faculty of History
- Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication
- Faculty of Law
- Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics
- Faculty of Philosophy
- Faculty of Physics
- Faculty of Pre-school and Primary School Education
- Faculty of Slavic Studies
- Faculty of Theology
- Faculty of Medicine
- Department of Language Learning
- Department for Information and In-service Training of Teachers
- Sports Department
- Affiliated bodies
- Balkan Universities Network
- National Centre of Polar Research
- Blaga Dimitrova, writer, former Vice-President of Bulgaria
- Raymond Detrez, historian
- Georgi Parvanov, President of Bulgaria
- Elisaveta Bagryana, poet
- Kiril Bratanov, scientist
- Ivan Dochev, politician
- Rostislaw Kaischew, scientist
- Bojil Kolarov, scholar
- Ivan Kostov, politician
- Julia Kristeva, philosopher and writer
- Meglena Kuneva, politician
- Ya’akov Nitzani, politician, Knesset member
- Aleksandar Tsankov Staliyski, politician
- Nikolai Todorov, President of Bulgaria
- Maria Todorova, scholar
- Lyudmila Zhivkova, politician
- Patriarch Maxim, cleric, head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
- Zhelyu Zhelev, former President of Bulgaria