Today, as in earlier times, the university is a pillar of Tyrolean society, economy and politics.
The educational and economic situation in Tyrol in the 17th century was dismal to say the least: if you were a Tyrolean and wanted to study at this time, you would have had to go to Vienna or Freiburg. On top of that, economic strength was lost as a result of the extinction of the Habsburg dynasty and the subsequent "loss of the court".
The government of Innsbruck reacted to this situation and despite concerns in Vienna for an "over-production" of academics, managed to dispel these concerns and establish a new university in Innsbruck. Additionally, prospects of an economic revival were envisioned: "The establishment of a university is a communal, financially sustainable, and at the same time financially rewarding, piece of work." The government were not at a loss for further arguments to justify of a new university: "The healthy air, "better tempered than in Italy", the converging of German and Italian cultures and of course the "wolfaile" wine.
Leopold I. convinces
On the 15th of October 1669, Emperor Leopold I, to the delight of the people of Innsbruck, approved the levy of twelve cruisers for every load of Haller salt sold (approx. 16 kg) in order to finance a state university. At that time, the revenues from salt duties were set at 4,300 guilders whilst the outgoings for personnel and administrative costs were 7,000 guilders in comparison. From its establishment in 1669 up to the present, the university has therefore always been dependent on public funding and the question of financing has always played a decisive roll in its existence.
Joseph II. wanted an "elite university"
On the 29th of November 1781, Emperor Joseph II abolished university status in Innsbruck again and reduced the university to a lycaeum (secondary school). His focus was on strengthening of public education and wanted to concentrate resources on promoting the central universities in Vienna and Prague: "The number of learners of reading and writing must be a large as possible, users of higher studies reduced, and those who attend university should only be the most talented."
The university - an open and shut case
In 1792, under Emperor Leopold II, the University of Innsbruck was restored to its proper status again. With the beginning of the Tyrolean uprising (1809), patriotic fervour took a hold of a large majority of the student population and many students fought alongside the leader of the Tyrolean rebellion, Andreas Hofer. After the collapse of the uprising, the university was once again, for the second time in its history, abolished in 1810. Only after the reunification of Tyrol with Austria (1814) was the reconstruction of the university established with the following, less popular, condition attached by the emperor: "Yes, I say, as long as I see money."
The Haller salt tax had already been abolished since 1808, and therefore restoration of the new University of Innsbruck was only first permitted after establishment of a state supported financial model in 1826. Since then, the university has operated uninterrupted and its name as the University of Innsbruck has remained intact.
Traditional organisations such as the University of Innsbruck amount to the sum of all their history and people, both of which play an enduring role in shaping these institutions. As a result of its eventful history since 1669, the University of Innsbruck has developed into an international top brand in the area of research and education.
Find more information about the University of Innsbruck at: www.uibk.ac.at