The University of Oslo (Norwegian: Universitetet i Oslo), until 1939 named the Royal Frederick University (Norwegian: Det Kongelige Frederiks Universitet), is the oldest, largest and most prestigious university in Norway, located in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The university is recognized as one of Northern Europe's most prestigious universities. The Academic Ranking of World Universities has ranked it the 58th best university in the world.
The university has approximately 27,700 students and employs around 6,000 people. Its faculties include (Lutheran) Theology (Norway's state religion since 1536), Law, Medicine, Humanities, Mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, Dentistry, and Education. The university's original neoclassical campus is located in the centre of Oslo; it is currently occupied by the Faculty of Law. Most of the university's other faculties are located at the newer Blindern campus in the suburban West End. The Faculty of Medicine is split between several university hospitals in the Oslo area.
The university was founded in 1811 and was modelled after the University of Copenhagen and the recently established University of Berlin. It was originally named for King Frederick VI of Denmark and Norway, and received its current name in 1939. The university is informally also known as Universitetet ("the university"), having been the only university in Norway until 1946, and was commonly referred to as "The Royal Frederick's" (Det Kgl. Frederiks) prior to the name change.
The University of Oslo is home to five Nobel Prize winners. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in the university's Atrium from 1947 to 1989, making it the only university in the world to be involved in awarding a Nobel Prize. Since 2003, the Abel Prize is awarded in the Atrium.
In 1811, a decision was made to establish the first university in the Dano-Norwegian Union, after a successful campaign which resulted in an agreement with King Fredrik VI. Fredrick agreed to the establishment of an institution that he had earlier believed might encourage political-separatist tendencies. In 1813, The Royal Fredrik's University was founded in Christiania, a small city during that time. Circumstances then changed dramatically one year into the commencement of the university, as Norway proclaimed independence and adopted its own constitution. However, independence was somewhat restricted, as Norway was obliged to enter into a legislative union with Sweden based on the outcome of the War of 1814. Norway retained its own constitution and independent state institutions, whilst royal power and foreign affairs were shared with Sweden. At a time when Norwegians feared political domination by the Swedes, the new university became a key institution that contributed to Norwegian political and cultural independence.
The main function of The Royal Frederick University was to educate a new class of (higher) civil servants. Although Norway was in a legislative union with Sweden, it was a sovereign state, and needed educated people to run it. Civil servants were needed, as well as parliamentary representatives and ministers. The university also became the centre for a survey of the country—a survey of national culture, language, history and folk traditions. The staff of the university strove to undertake a wide range of practical tasks necessary for developing the infrastructure critical to a modern society. When the union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, the university became important for producing highly educated men and women who could serve as experts in a society which placed increasing emphasis on ensuring that all its citizens enjoy a life of dignity and security. Education, health services and public administration were among those fields that recruited personnel from among the university's graduates. In 1939, the university was renamed the University of Oslo and it remained Norway's only university until 1946. .
Throughout the 1800s, the university's academic disciplines became more specialised. One of the major changes in the university came during the 1870s when a greater emphasis became placed upon research. The management of the university became more professional, academic subjects were reformed and the forms of teaching evolved. Disciplines became more specialized and classical education came under increasing pressure.
Research changed qualitatively around the turn of the century as new methods, scientific theories and forms of practice changed the nature of research. It was decided that teachers should arrive at their posts as highly qualified academics and continue academic research alongside their role as teachers. Scientific research—whether to launch or test out new theories, to innovate or to pave the way for discoveries across a wide range of disciplines—became part of the increased expectations placed on the university. Developments in society created a need for more and more specialised and practical knowledge, not merely competence in theology or law, for example. The university strove to meet these expectations through increasing academic specialisation.
The position of rector was established by Parliament in 1905 following the Dissolution of the Union. Waldemar Christofer Brøgger was Professor of Geology and became the university's first rector. Brøgger vacillated between a certain pessimism and a powerfully energetic attitude regarding how to procure finances for research and fulfill his more general funding objectives. With the establishment of the national research council after World War II, Brøgger's vision was largely fulfilled; research received funding independent of teaching. This coincided with a massive rise in student enrollment during the 1960s, which again made it difficult to balance research with the demands for teaching. In the years leading up to 1940, research was more strongly linked with the growth of the nation, with progress and self-assertion; research was also seen to contribute to Norway's commitment to international academic and cultural development.
During the period after World War I, research among Norwegian researchers resulted in two Nobel prizes. The Nobel prize in Economics was awarded to Ragnar Frisch. The Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded to Odd Hassel. In the field of linguistics, several Norwegian researchers distinguished themselves internationally. Increased research activity during the first half of the 1900s was part of an international development that also included Norway. Student enrollment doubled between 1911 and 1940, and students were recruited from increasingly broad geographical, gender and social bases. The working class was still largely left behind, however.
During the German occupation, which lasted from 1940–1945, the university rector, Didrik Arup Seip, was imprisoned. The university was then placed under the management of Adolf Hoel, a NS (Norwegian Nazi Party) appointee. A number of students participated in the Norwegian resistance movement; after fire was set in the university auditorium, Reich Commissar Terboven ordered the university closed and the students arrested. A number of students and teachers were detained by the Germans nearly until the end of the war.
After WWII, public authorities made loans available to students whose families were unable to provide financial assistance; the State Educational Loan Fund for Young Students was established in 1947. As a result, the post-war years saw a record increase in student numbers. Many of these students had been unable to begin their studies or had seen their studies interrupted because of the war; they could now enroll. For the 1945 autumn semester, 5951 students registered at the university. This represented the highest student enrollment at UiO up to that time. In 1947, the number had risen to more than 6000 students. This represented a 50 per cent increase in the number of students compared to the number enrolled prior to the war.
In no previous period had a single decade brought so many changes for the university as the 1960s. The decade represented an unparalleled period of growth. From 1960 to 1970, student enrollment tripled, rising from 5,600 to 16,800. This tremendous influx would have been enough in itself to transform the way the university was perceived, from both the inside and the outside. As it turned out, the changes were even more comprehensive. The university campus at Blindern was expanded, and the number of academic and administrative employees rose. The number of academic positions doubled, from fewer than 500 to around 1,200. The increase in the number of students and staff transformed traditional forms of work and organisation. The expansion of the Blindern complex allowed the accommodation of 7,000 students. The explosive rise in student numbers during the 1960s impacted the Blindern campus in particular. The faculties situated in central Oslo—Law and Medicine—experienced only a doubling in student enrollment during the 1960s, while the number of students in the humanities and social sciences tripled.
By 1968, revolutionary political ideas had taken root in earnest among university students. The "Student Uprising" became a turning point in the history of universities throughout the western world. Often, the outlook for students in the 1960s was bleak. More than ever before came from non-academic backgrounds and had few role models. The "University of the Masses" was unable to lift all its students to the "lofty, elite positions" enjoyed by previous generations of academics. Many students dissociated themselves, therefore, from the so-called "establishment" and the way the establishment functioned. Many were impatient and wanted to use their knowledge to change society. It was thought that academics should stand in solidarity with the underprivileged.
The most fundamental change in the student population was the increasing proportion of women students. Throughout the 1970s, the number of women increased until it made up the majority of students. At the same time, the university became a centre for the organised women's liberation movement, which emerged in the 1970s.
Up until the millennium, the number of students enrolled at the university rose exponentially. In 1992, UiO implemented a restriction on admissions for all of its faculties for the first time. A large part of the explanation for the high student numbers was thought to be found in the poor job market. In 1996, there were 38,265 students enrolled at UiO. This level was approximately 75 per cent above the average during the 1970s and 1980s. The strong rise in student numbers during the 1990s was attributed partially to the poor labour market.
In 2015, Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked UiO 58th worldwide and the best in Norway, while the 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked UiO 186th, tied with Yeshiva University.
The 2014/15 rankings of the QS World University Rankings, ranked UiO 101st worldwide, and the 2015 Webometrics Ranking of World Universities ranked UiO 68th worldwide.
The 2015 rankings of the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), which "publishes the only global university ranking that measures the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions", ranked UiO 99th worldwide.
The Student Welfare Organization in Oslo and Akershus (SiO)
SiO works to enhance the overall educational experience by providing a wide range of affordable services. Students pay a small fee each semester for this (generally, exchange students are extempted from paying the semester registration fee).
SiO offers around 7500 places to stay for students.
SiO operates around 40 on-campus restaurants and cafés with a varied selection of menus, including vegetarian and halal food. Prices are student friendly.
SiO has a team of professional counsellors to whom students can turn for advice in academic, financial, or personal matters.
Student health services
An on-campus student health centre with general practitioners, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologist and dentists ready to see patients on an appointment basis and to deal with emergencies.
A variety of activities are available for individual exercise or under the supervision of fully qualified instructors, in both indoor and outdoor facilities.
Norway's largest research library.
Information about IT services at UiO, including support contact information.
Services to the public
Free legal aid, museums and galleries.
Printing and copying
Guidelines for printing your thesis.