With more than five hundred years of existence, the University of Santiago de Compostela is an institution with a vocation for the future and the capacity to project beyond the world. It is outside its natural borders, always attentive to the needs of the society in which it is an academic benchmark and in which it develops its teaching and research work. Centuries of history that bring us the added value of experience to the path that USC is following. Marking in the achievement of their present and future challenges.
The first seed of the University of Santiago is in the making. This was linked to the personal action of a Compostela notary named Lope Gómez de Marzoa, who created in 1495, with the support of the abbot of San Martín Pinario, a school for the poor known as Estudio de Gramática, installed in some dependencies of the monastery of San Paio de Antealtares. From that moment on, a period of uncertainty began, based on the scarcity of resources. In the year 1504, the Diego de Muros family accessed this educational institution. This religious got Pope Julius II to grant a bull that allows the completion of higher studies in the Old Study or Grammar.
The period in which the University achieves its definitive development is defined by the figure of Alonso III de Fonseca, who was named Archbishop of Santiago in 1507, inheriting the title from his father Fonseca II. Alonso de Fonseca is here. He was considered an extremely cultured person, a man of the Renaissance, patron of numerous artists and scholars of the time, who had frequently maintained contact with thinkers such as Erasmus of Rotterdam.
The purchase for the University of the old Pilgrims Hospital dates from this period in order to transform it into the university college. The one in Santiago Alfeo is built, today called Colegio de Fonseca, the epicenter of university life until the second half of the 18th century. At the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century, the College of San Patricio or de los Irlandeses and San Clemente were created, and in the middle of the century the College of San Xerome was moved to its current location.
These schools, in a different way from what happens today, brought together all the studies in the same building, where they also lived as a boarding school. At that time, the training offer was made up of theology, grammar and the arts, disciplines that would later be completed with the study of Law and Medicine, with almost exclusive attention In the case of Laws, to ecclesiastical law, and concerned with the health of the soul more than the care of the body, in the case of Medicine.
The eighteenth century brings with it a profound transformation at the University of Santiago de Compostela, thus completing its history. the process of secularization of the institution by moving away from ecclesiastical control. The centralizing dynamics to which the institutions were subjected at this time contributed to the University losing a certain autonomy. It was at that time that Carlos III granted the status of royal to the USC, adding to his emblem the royal crown that, over the arms of Castilla, León and Galicia, and together with the heraldic emblems of their most prominent founders, is integrated into the shield.
After the expulsion of the Jesuits, ordered by Carlos III, he granted the University the land and buildings that this religious order owned in Santiago, becoming the center of the new enlightened university. Immediately a new study plan was created that recovered disciplines ceded to certain religious congregations, created academic degrees and introduced new practical and scientific teachings, such as Experimental Physics or Chemistry.
The arrival of the 20th century brings to the University of Santiago a new generation of intellectuals, future protagonists of a good part of the cultural resurgence of Galicia at that time. At the same time, the different currents of thought in the different scientific fields find a welcome and impulse at the USC, which favors the approach to the USC of key figures in the different fields of science. In this period, the USC experiences a significant increase in its number of students as well as its number of students. as well as the careers offered, with the consequent provision of infrastructures. In this way, the extension of the University building, the current Faculty of Geography and History, is completed, also building the College of Veterinary Medicine (current Parliament of Galicia), the College of Deaf-Mutes (headquarters of the Xunta de Galicia) and the Faculty of Medicine. Another great project was the University Residence, carried out in the 1930s. In short, it is a period of expansion in which facilities improve and studies are regionalized, seeking a better adaptation to the Galician reality.
Another characteristic that the 20th century brought with it was the beginning of relations with foreign university education institutions, at first fundamentally Portuguese, as well as with other institutions. as the access of women to the classrooms (course 1913-1914). In addition, the volume of books at the institution increased significantly, with new and notable donations, such as the one from the Biblioteca América.
In this progression, the military uprising against the government of the republic and the outbreak of the civil war gave a new meaning to the path that the Compostela university was tracing. The coup plotters dominated the city, purged the university by imposing a new rector and rules such as praying before and after each class. But the anti-Franco opposition in Santiago came precisely from the intellectuals and students and not from the labor movements, as had happened in A Coruña, Vigo or Ferrol, to name a few examples.
In the last decades, with the universities of A Coruña and Vigo already segregated, the USC continued to develop its activities. Its growth until counting at the end of the 90s with more than 45,000 students. Currently, between its two campuses in Santiago and Lugo, university students have close to thirty centers, close to eighty departments and more than sixty degrees, in addition to numerous facilities such as research institutes, university residences , sports or cultural facilities, libraries, etc. In short, after more than five centuries, the University of Santiago de Compostela continues to look decisively to the future, respecting its past, but promoting new initiatives every day, putting its knowledge and leadership at the service of of the society to which it is owed.