Autonomy in the 1990s

The University of Basel has undergone a profound transformation in the most recent chapter of its history, culminating in 2007 with the sealing of a joint university partnership between the cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Countryside.

The driving force at the beginning of this process was the financial crunch facing the canton of Basel-City, which was no longer able to support the university on its own. In the 1980s, the idea of a “university of both Basels” gained increasing traction as a solution to the crisis. Political efforts for changes including a possible overhaul of the institutional framework were launched in 1989/90, with the university itself playing a significant role in the process.

The University Act and the University Agreement of 1994/95 between the cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Countryside codified this renewal, fundamentally altering the university’s leadership structures as well as its relationship to the cantonal governments and to society. Now equally funded by two cantons, as specified in the 2007 agreement between Basel-City and Basel-Countryside, the university in fact gained significant autonomy from government authorities.

At the same time, in a closely related development, the university experienced striking internal renewal and change, evident in new programs, departments, and faculties, the Bologna reform of higher education, and new collaborations with other universities.

The study on which this website is based represents only a slice of the road traveled, albeit an important one, focusing on the university reform of these seminal years.