History and Development
University North is the youngest public university in the Republic of Croatia.
On May 29, 2015, at its 17th session, the Croatian Parliament passed the Law on the transfer of founder's rights over University North to the Republic of Croatia, which formally made University North the eighth public university in Croatia. This created a series of new opportunities for further development of the University, of the cities that had begun its development, but also of the whole region.
The project of establishing and building the University in north-western Croatia began a little more than thirteen years ago. On May 17, 2001, teachers and the management of the Electromechanical school in Varaždin, with the approval of the line ministry and the help of the city of Varaždin, a professional study of Electrical Engineering was founded, i.e. a four-year technical college with public rights, which carried out its program in the mentioned high school. In the same year the institution was registered as public and its funding was taken over by the line ministry.
After several years of successful work, a sufficient number of students enrolled, and the employment of teachers with the necessary elections to teaching titles, the conditions needed for the establishment and the development of the four-year technical college into an independent institution were met. Therefore, on the basis of obtaining the license for carrying out activities issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology dated May16, 2002, the Varaždin City Council at its 28th session held on October 19, 2002, decided on the establishment of an institution under the name of the “College of Electrical Engineering”. During that time, the institution offered one study program – “Electrical Engineering” – and two specialization programs – “Automation” and “Biomedical Electronics”. It was decided that the headquarters of the new institution would be located at 33/6 Jurja Križanića Street in Varaždin.
During 2003 and 2004, at the “College of Electrical Engineering” two new study programs were developed, i.e. two professional studies – “Mechanical Engineering” and “Multimedia, Design and Application”. By meeting the condition of conducting three different study programs, the statutory provisions needed for re-registering the institution as an institution of higher order, i.e. a polytechnic, were secured. Thus, after acquiring the license to carry out professional studies, which was issued by the line ministry on July 7, 2005, at a session held on November 8, 2005, the City Council of Varaždin made a decision on the establishment of a new higher education institution under the name of “Polytechnic of Varaždin”.
In the following years the institution continued to develop in terms of new study programs and after completing a feasibility study which was approved by the line ministry, two new study programs in the area of technological sciences were launched in the academic year 2007/2008. The two studies in question were “Technical and Economic Logistics” and “Civil Engineering” with two specialization programs: “Construction (Building) Engineering” and “Civil (Structural) Engineering“.
Taking into consideration the development of higher education in other parts of Croatia, the city and county leaders, management of the institution, and teachers realized that the existing configuration of the institution (polytechnic) was inadequate with regard to the developmental needs and aspirations of the region. The institution was faced with many restrictions with regard to the vertical development of the study programs, the level of financing by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, and there was a large discrepancy in the development of the higher education of north-western Croatia in comparison to the other parts of the country.
Given the fact that the Polytechnic performed a larger number of study programs in different fields - five programs in specific, but in only one scientific area of technical sciences - in order to meet the requirements of growing into a university, the institution decided on completing the feasibility study of a new study program in another scientific area - in the area of “Biomedicine and Health” - with the professional study of “Nursing”.
In the next two years the number of students increased to nearly 3,000; the institution employed 50 new professors; the financial operations stabilized; the institution generated extra revenue which was invested in the development of laboratories and improvement of the physical conditions, working conditions, and infrastructure in general.
From 2006, the city of Koprivnica was working in parallel (in relation to the city of Varaždin) on the project of the development of higher education and the establishment of a university. The city of Koprivnica established a Committee for the development of higher education and, together with the Croatian government, signed a contract on giving away the former barrack in Koprivnica. In return it was put under an obligation to establish a university (by the end of 2013) and build a new Municipal (County) Court building for the needs of the Republic of Croatia. By recognizing the needs of the citizens of north-western Croatia (a region with more than 500,000 inhabitants), the representatives of the cities of Varaždin and Koprivnica launched an initiative for the development of the first regional university in the Republic of Croatia which would work with equal effect in both cities/counties. Taking into consideration the fact that more than 80,000 inhabitants live in those cities and almost 300,000 in the counties (without the neighboring ones), the assumption of achieving the project’s objective in accordance with the needs of the citizens of the region was both rational and realistic.
In the early 2012, Koprivnica and Varaždin acquired (took over) the founding rights of the Media University, an institution which did not open its doors since the day it had obtained the earlier mentioned license. The undergraduate study programs of the Media University (undergraduate university study of Journalism, undergraduate university study of Media Design, and professional undergraduate study of Business and Management in the Media) began in Koprivnica in the academic year 2012/2013. Graduate study programs (graduate study of Business Economics and graduate study of Public Relations) began in Varaždin in the same academic year.
The City Councils of Varaždin and Koprivnica passed a decision on March 18, 2013, in Koprivnica, and on March 21, 2013, in Varaždin, on the integration of the Polytechnic of Varaždin and the Media University. The Senate of the Media University, during its session on December 19, 2013, decided that, starting with the day of the integration, the new institution would operate under the name of University North. Based on the decision of the Commercial Court of Varaždin issued on January 22, 2014, the process of the integration of the two mentioned institutions was finalized.