The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is the sixth oldest and among the most highly ranked tertiary education institutions in Greece. It is named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born in Stageira, about 55 km east of Thessaloniki. It is the largest university in Greece and in the Balkans. Its campus covers 230,000 square metres in the centre of Thessaloniki, with additional educational and administrative facilities elsewhere. The language of instruction is Greek, although there are programs in foreign languages and courses for international students, which are carried out in English, French, German, and Italian.
The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was founded in 1925 during the premiership of Alexandros Papanastassiou and was legislated under Law. It was the second Greek university to be founded after the University of Athens, which was established in 1837. According to Eleftherios Venizelos’ plans following the end of the World War I, Smyrni was intended to be the seat of the second Greek university, while the third university was to be established in Thessaloniki. However, Smyrni was not part of Greece at the time and the plans fell through after the outcome of the Greco-Turkish War in Asia Minor. Nevertheless, in 1924, Alexandros Papanastassiou decided to found a university in Thessaloniki in order to boost the local economy and culture. The chronological development of the university, which was renamed the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1954, can be divided into three stages, each covering a period of approximately 25 years.
Today, the Aristotle University comprises 12 Faculties, 36 schools, and numerous other units (such as laboratories, study rooms, libraries, clinics, research centres etc.), which make it the largest university in Greece and southeastern Europe in terms of number of staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students and the facilities offered. According to the significant Jewish past and present of Thessaloniki the Aristotle University planned together with the Jewish community of Thessaloniki in 2014, the reopening of the Faculty of Jewish Studies. A former Jewish faculty was abolished 80 years before by the Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas. This new faculty took in October 2015, her work on with leading professor Georgios Antoniou. On the University campus a monument commemorating the old Jewish cemetery was unveiled also in 2014. The campus was built partially on this old cemetery.
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