Although the Nicolaus Copernicus University was founded in 1945, the scientific traditions in Toruń date back to the period of the Renaissance when an Academic Gymnasium was set up in our town. In 1945, thanks to the efforts of professors from the disestablished Polish universities in Vilnius and Lvov, the Nicolaus Copernicus University was in a position to inaugurate its activities with four faculties: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the Faculty of Law and Economy, and the Faculty of Fine Arts. At that time the staff was composed of 60 professors and 69 service workers. Roughly 1,600 candidates enrolled for the first year of studies. The organiser and the first Rector of NCU was Professor Ludwik Kolankowski.
Nowadays, the academic community of the university comprises over 46,000 people. There are about 35,000 students studying in 15 faculties offering over 60 different courses of study and about 50 postgraduate studies. Among the 4,360 employees there are 2,170 academic teachers, of whom over 600 are professors and 1000 are PhDs. The granting of doctoral degrees is possible in 25 disciplines, whereas postdoctoral degrees may be conferred in 21 disciplines. Every year ca. 10,000 students are admited for studies at NCU. Until now the University has awarded over 100,000 diplomas in higher education.
There are 33 areas of study and over 80 specialisations. Students have the choice of, for example, the only Polish university course in Art History and Conservation, or attractive interdisciplinary options in the humanities. There are several specialisations available which are rarely represented at other Polish universities, such as Medical Physics, and Chemistry with Elements of Marketing and Management. Over 56 postgraduate and 12 doctoral programmes are also available. The total enrolment at the University is 34,000, of whom 508 are graduate students working towards Doctor degrees. The University has been extensively involved in the preparation of a system of quality standards and principles for Polish universities, in co-operation with the State Accreditation Commission and the Universities Accreditation Commission. Several courses of study at the NCU have already received certificates confirming standards of educational excellence. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) enables our students to engage in more individualised courses of study and to continue their studies at other educational institutions in Poland and abroad. In 1993 the first Careers and Appointments Office for Polish university students was set up at the NCU to serve in active job mediation between students, graduates, and employers.
All the faculties are entitled to confer doctoral and post-doctoral (habilitation) degrees and to apply for professorial titles.
Doctoral studies are available in 20 different disciplines.
Each year the NCU academic staff receive around 50 grants from the State Committee for Scientific Research and participate in joint projects with various higher educational and research institutions.
A 32-metre radiotelescope, the third biggest in Europe, operates at the Centre of Astronomy. Researchers associated with the Centre include Prof. Aleksander Wolszczan, who discovered the first planetary system outside our solar system. The University also has research facilities for glaciological studies located in Spitsbergen and the Antarctic.
According to the most recent survey, the NCU is ranked among the top five Polish universities. Apart from the centres, and research units within the faculty structure, there also exist various inter-faculty units and interdisciplinary teams, such as the Foreign Languages Centre, the Physical Education and Sports Centre, the Information and Communication Centre, the Interdisciplinary Group for Optical Methods in the Early Detection of Cancer, the Interdisciplinary Group for Methods of Absolute Dating, the Alliance Française Centre, and the British Council Library.
The University Library is one of the biggest in Poland, and its collection contains 2 million volumes.
The NCU occupies a broad local base – almost 60 buildings are situated on the central academic campus, and others are located elsewhere in the city and its vicinity. Eleven dormitories provide accommodation for 3,300 students. The University is constantly expanding, a fact illustrated by the current construction of a new building for the Faculty of Biology and Earth Sciences.
The NCU maintains contacts with many universities and research organisations throughout the world. These take the form of individual arrangements for scientific co-operation and contacts pursued within the framework of 45 bilateral agreements with foreign universities and international organisations. The idividual organisational units of the University participate in international educational and research programmes. Within the 5th Framework Programme, the University participates in 10 European projects. The NCU co-operates with the Socrates-Erasmus programme facilitating student and staff mobility between the University and 80 educational institutions in the European Union. Consequently, the number of foreign courses and work experience placements for our students has significantly increased while, at the same time, more foreign students have taken up their studies in Torun. Academic staff travel on lecture tours, attend conferences, and engage in research in many countries. The University is visited by about 400 researchers from various countries every year.
Another avenue of co-operation gaining in importance takes the form of international scientific publications edited at the NCU and published in conjunction with foreign partners, e.g., Reports on Mathematical Physics (with Pergamon Press), Open Systems and Information Dynamics in Physical and Life Sciences (with Kluwer), Comparative Law Review, Eastern European Countryside, Logic and Logical Philosophy, Theoria et Historia Scientiarum.