Basel as a Swiss national university – nothing but a dream?

In planning the new university, its founders had hoped to draw students from a large area that included the Anterior Austrian lands of Alsace and Breisgau, the diocese of Konstanz, and the Old Swiss Confederacy. Accordingly optimistic scenarios for student enrollments were devised, with projections sometimes mentioning 500 or even 1,000 students. 

Yet the successful establishment of other universities in the southern German region, most notably in Freiburg and Tübingen, along with political developments, dashed these hopes within a generation. Following Basel’s formal accession to the Confederacy in 1501, the city increasingly lost German students to Freiburg, while Swiss students continued to attend universities in the Holy Roman Empire, as the graph clearly shows.