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History of Linköping University (LiU)

Linköping has been an important centre of learning since medieval times.

Linköping Cathedral offered a school with prosperous international contacts and its own student hall in Paris. Among Swedish cities, only Uppsala was more prominent than Linköping as a city of learning.

In 1627, the Cathedral school (Katedralskolan) in Linköping became the third upper secondary school in Sweden. During this century there were also plans for a Götaland University in the city. However, the Roskilde peace in the Dano-Swedish war, followed by the incorporation of several counties in the south, compelled the Crown to attend more pressing affairs.

Instead, teacher education was to become the next step in Linköping’s development as a city of learning. Folkskollärarseminariet, where elementary school teachers were educated, began operations in 1843 and in 1953 it started to offer some academic courses.

In Norrköping, Fröbelinstitutet – Sweden’s first pre-school teacher school – was founded in 1902.

A new university

In the 1960’s, Linköping University began to take shape. The Swedish National Legislative Assembly (Riksdag) aspired to expand higher education and in 1965 they decided to locate some programmes within the fields of technology and medicine to Linköping. Two years later came the foundation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences when a branch of Stockholm University was placed here offering education within humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Units for of technology and medicine were established two years later, in 1969.

Doktor tvLinköping University College was formed in 1970 and included faculties of technology, medicine and arts and sciences. Buildings A and B were the first to appear on the new Campus Valla. Attempts were made to replace live teaching with televised broadcasts, but were soon aborted as it became increasingly apparent that it just didn’t work out as planned

The new university college expanded and finally, in 1975, Sweden’s sixth university was established in Linköping. That same year, LiU was the first Swedish university to offer a master of science in computer science and engineering.

In line with the 1977 reform of the Swedish higher education system, teacher education was transferred to Linköping University.

Problem-based learning and interdisciplinary research

The fledgling university soon became known as an innovator. Interdisciplinarity, new study programmes and problem-based learning instigated changes in research and education.

In 1980, the Department of Thematic Studies adopted a new approach for Sweden. Research was organised in so-called themes, such as Technology and Social Change or Water and Environmental Studies. The department expanded quickly and the method of interdisciplinary research spread to other parts of the university. The department also introduced graduate research schools, a model that became a national success.

Invigning Kårallen


The king of Sweden inaugurates the Kårallen building in 1987.

The new Faculty of Health Sciences (Hälsouniversitetet), formed in 1986, took advantage of both governmental and regional funded education. It also introduced a radically changed methodology, being the first in Sweden to use problem-based learning (PBL). LiU became the first university in the world to allow students at educational departments to treat actual patients.

Expanding in Norrköping and Stockholm

In 1997 a campus in the neighbouring city of Norrköping was opened heralding a significant milestone in LiU’s history. Some programmes had previously operated from Norrköping, however the number of students grew drastically in line with government efforts to expand higher education. Historical factories in the former industrial landscape of Norrköping sprang to life housing classrooms, labs, libraries and cafés.

Linköping University also expanded to Stockholm when the Carl Malmsten School of Furniture sought a collaborative partner within academia. The Malmsten furniture design and handicraft programmes have been part of LiU since the year 2000. After almost 60 years at Södermalm in central Stockholm, the school moved to more suitable premises on the island of Lidingö in the autumn of 2009.

Collaboration and commercialisation

LiU Malmsten’s new location was achievable thanks to a donation from the Swedish real estate company John Mattson Fastighets AB. This is a clear example of the growing collaboration between LiU and businesses, foundations and private individuals investing in the development of the university. The fundraising work started in 2004 with a campaign aimed at businesses in Norrköping. Since 2006, fundraising is carried out within all parts of LiU. 2009 also marked the beginning of LiU Fund of U, a foundation for alumni who wish to support their old alma mater.

Collaboration with trade and industry has always been important to LiU. Evident through the creation of science parks at Mjärdevi and Norrköping. Mjärdevi Science Park began its operations in 1984 and is one of Sweden’s oldest science parks.

In 2010 Linköping University established its own Innovations Office, one of eight in the country with a government commission to work with the commercialisation of research findings. That same year saw the opening of Visualization Center C in Norrköping, which is a visualisation meeting place for research, culture, industry and the general public. 

 


Page manager: maria.karlberg@liu.se
Last updated: 2014-05-21