The Cluj University lays on the foundation of a long evolution of the attempts to establishes a site for higher education studies in Transylvania, an attractive area for the Western Europeans and an arena of religious and, later on, political fights, related to the history of our continent.
This evolution begins with the intention of the prince Ioan Sigismund to set up in 1567 an academy of studies in Sebes (Alba), but it is firstly materialised through the initiative of Stefan Bathory to lay the foundations, following the establishment of universities in Bratislava, Buda and Tarnovo, of a college in Cluj, in 1581, under the control of the Jesuits and having the Italian Antonio Possevino and rector. This college was later closed down, and the protestants and the Unitarians set the bases of other colleges, in 1692 Gabriel Bethlen established the Calvinist college in Alba Iulia, with theology, philosophy and language studies, this college being headed by Alstedt. The Catholics took the initiative again and established, in 1688, an academy in Cluj under the control of the Jesuits. In an effort of confessional reconciliation, in 1776, Empress Maria Tereza founded a university in German in Cluj. But this enterprise was not to survive long wither, Joseph II replacing the university with the famous Piarist Highschool, where the teaching was done in Latin.
In the context of the 1848 change, the issue of setting up a university in the national language was explicitly raised. The Romanians, the majority population in Transylvania, asked for a university in Romanian. Among the then Hungarian leaders, the minister Eotvos suggested in 1868 the creation in Cluj of a university in which the teaching was to be in Hungarian, Romanian and German, and a part of the Romanian elite supported the proposal. But, in 1872, the authorities established the University of Cluj exclusively in Hungarian, which caused the discontent of the Romanian majority. At the end of World War I, against the background of the Great Unification, the Cluj University, just like the universalities in Strasbourg and Bratislava, was taken over by the state authorities, becoming an institution of completed Romanian. On may 12, 1919, the Romanian University of Cluj was set up, whose courses were inaugurated on November 3, 1919, By Vasile Parvan with a lecture entitled "The Duty of Our Life", king Ferdinand I solemnly proclaiming the university on February 1, 1920. The new university was set by the king of Romania under the motto that once, imprinted in marble, guarded the entrance in the central building: "dedicated to truth, through justice -the only elements leading to the agreement among the different peoples of the world, this site of great culture will be useful to the people and to humanity, honoring itself and honoring us as well through its scientific work".
In 1940, as a result of the territorial revision imposed by the then Germany and Italy, the Romanian university was moved to Sibiu and Timisoara, and the Hungarian university was brought from Szeged to Cluj. After World War II, once the Vienna Dictate was abrogated, the Romanian university returned to Cluj and took the name of "Babes". In 1945 the Romanian authorities established in Cluj the Hungarian university named "Bolyai". The two universities were reunited in 1956 under the name Babes-Bolyai University, where the teaching was being done in Romanian and Hungarian. Subsequently, under the Ceausescu regime, the studies in Hungarian were gradually reduced.
In December 1989, in Babes-Bolyai University there was a very active movement of young students and academic staff with the purpose of recovering the professional and democratic tradition of the university and to reform the institution. The starting point of the new dynamics of the university was represented by the proclamation "For a New University of Dacia Superior" and the subsequent active action of many Romanian, Hungarian, German, Jewish academics, dominated by the preoccupation to re-establish the prevalence of professionalism in the university and to integrate it in the world of the free world values.
The development to the Cluj University can be illustrated by a few synthetic data of its evolution taking into account the years 1938, 1970, 1989, 1992, and 1999.
In 1938, the Cluj University had 3094 students in four faculties, trained by 115 members of the academic staff (4 honorary professors, 84 full-time professors, 29 associated professors, senior lecturers, assistants) and 245 lecturers, and teaching assistants. Up to that point, the Central University Library, Academic College, the University Office, the Publishing Office, the University extension, the Institute for Experimental Psychology, the Sports Park and other units had been organised.
In 1971, Babes-Bolyai University reached the maximum figure of its post-war development, having 14438 students in 8 faculties, taking 36 specialisations under the guidance of 648 members of the academic staff. Meanwhile, the university built the dormitories in the Hasdeu Complex. After 1971, as a result of the erroneous university policy of the Ceausescu regime, Babes-Bolyai University was dramatically reduced. In 1989 the number of students in our university dropped to 5940 taking courses in 7 faculties with 19 specializations (programs) under the supervision of 626 academic staff members.
In 1992, Babes-Bolyai University recreated the structure of specialisations it had during its peak previous development. The number of students reached 12247, studying in 11 faculties and 55 specializations, being assisted by 826 academic staff members.
Since 1993, the most comprehensive and the strongest development in the history of the Cluj University was recorded. Our university is now the most diversified (in terms of specializations) and the most complex higher education institution in Romania. In 1996 the building of the new campus started, and in 199 the building of the new complex of student dorms of our university was begun. In 2004 Babes-Bolyai University reached the greatest development in its entire history.
The above-mentioned development has gone through many crucially important decisions and radically new initiatives regarding the organization of studies, the development of scientific research, the extension of the community services offered, the modernizing of the infrastructure, the creation of the modern communication network, the involvement of Babes-Bolyai University in the democratization and the transition of Romania. The decisions of transforming Babes-Bolyai University in a prestigious university of Central and Eastern Europe (1994), of intellectual, civic, and moral commitment to the democratization of Romania and Euro-Atlantic integration (1993), of massively expanding the infrastructure investments (1996), of reorganization according of a multilingual and multicultural profile (1995), of transforming it into a relevant institution of the international system of universities (2000), of confronting the conditions of globalization with new initiatives (2003) have been among the crucially important decisions for the current profiling of Babes-Bolyai University.