Paris, University of

Paris, University of, at Paris, France; founded 12th cent., confirmed 1215 by papal bull. The most famous of its colleges was the Sorbonne, which opened in 1253 and gained academic and theological distinction during the late Middle Ages and early modern times; the name Sorbonne was often used to designate the university itself. The university was suppressed during the French Revolution and replaced in 1808 by an academy of the centralized Imperial Univ. of France (later the Univ. of France). In 1890 it was reestablished as a university.

The student riots of 1968, which paralyzed Paris for weeks, centered around the university and led to radical changes. In 1970 the university was divided into 13 universities located in Paris and its suburbs, and further reforms followed under the Higher Education Act of 1983; some of the successor universities have since consolidated. The new universities are state institutions enjoying academic and financial autonomy, operated under the jurisdiction of the minister of education and financed by the state. Each institution has a different focus and scale, appropriate to its status as an autonomous “unit of teaching and research.” Paris Dauphine Univ., for example, which focuses on business, finance, and computer sciences, has some 10,000 students, while Panthéon-Sorbonne Univ., with a more general curriculum, enrolls some 40,000.

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