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Historical overview of chemistry studies in Slovenia
Prior to the establishment of the University of Ljubljana
Chemistry in Slovenia in the seventeenth century is characterised by the works of several physicians who were involved in science and published books with chemistry contents, e.g. D. Verbezius, S. Rechberg, J. I. Leitern, M. Gerbezius, J. A. Coppini, M. J. Perizhoffer: Resolutiones quaestionum chimicarum, 1680, J. P. Cattinus: Operationes chimicae, 1685, and J. G. Thalnitscher (Dolničar): Theatrum Chymicum, 1693.
In 1689, J. V. Valvasor in his work Die Ehre des Herzogtums Krain assumed a negative view of alchemist theories on transmutation of metals into gold. In his book he described in detail the equipment of the mines and foundries in Carniola and Carynthia. His invention of a special metal casting method, published in Philosophical Transactions made him become a member of the Royal Society of London in 1687.
The first physician working for the mines in Idrija, Janez (Giovanni Antonio) Scopoli, published Tentamen de hydrargyro Indriense in 1761. Later, J. J. Ferber in his book Beschreibung des Quecksilberbergwerkes zu Idria in Mittelkrain (1774) described the equipment and chemical procedures in the foundry. Gabrijel Gruber, who was a technician and natural scientist researched mercury, and upon the request of the States of Carniola, developed a technological procedure for blue papermaking and packaging material for sugar in 1769.
In 1763 a higher school, called Lehrkanzel für den chemisch metallurgischen Untericht (chair of chemical and metallurgical studies), was established in Idrija where Dr. Scopoli was appointed the first professor of chemistry and metallurgy.
New chemical theories were brought to Slovenia by B. Hacquet, a doctor of philosophy and medicine, a physician working in Idrija, who later became professor at the Lyceum of Ljubljana and university professor in Lvov and Krakow. His works were published in Neue chemische Entdeckungen in Crell’s Chemische Annalen. In Oryctographia carniolica, published in 1778 in four volumes, he describes chemical analysis, ores, mining equipment and chemical procedures used in Idrija at that time. He was appointed a professor of natural sciences and chemistry by the States. Being able to speak Slovenian and knowing the country well he taught technological chemistry. The Faculty of Arts was opened again in 1788, however, B. Hacquet did not live to it because he was invited to Lvov again in 1787.
Nineteenth century was characterised by the following important events and people:
1810-1813 the Ljubljana Higher School was established in the French province Ilyria,
1810 Ecole centrale was established,
1811 Académie de Laybach was established.
Lecturers in chemistry: J. M. Zendrini, a chemist and pharmacist from Milan. The first Slovenian professor of chemistry: Janez K. Kersnik.
1852 the college of science subjects was established: the first head of chemistry laboratory was H. Perger, who later became full professor of the Vinenna Higher School.
In 1898 the first chemistry experimental station of the Agricultural Society in Ljubljana was established under the leadership of Ernest Kramer.
The first chemistry books in Slovene were published :
M. Vertovec: Kmetijska kemija (Agricultural Chemistry) –1847, M. Peternel: Imena, znamenja in lastnosti kemiških prvin (Names, symbols and properties of chemical elements)-1862.
The first course book for elementary school was published in 1876 in Klagenfurt, and the first Slovenian course book for the colleges of natural sciences Kemija in mineralogija (Chemistry and Mineralogy) by B. Baeblerja in 1910. These works were fundamental for the development of Slovenian chemistry terminology and nomenclature.
The University of Ljubljana is established
Formally, the University of Ljubljana was established on July 23, 1919. The first courses in chemistry at the tertiary level and research work started in the academic year 1919/20 at the Technical Faculty. Dr. Maks Samec was appointed the first full professor of chemistry on August 31, 1919, while chemistry department within the Technical Faculty was established on November 15, 1919. In the autumn of 1919 the first enrolment of students was made and the first generation of students started attending the lectures in December.
During the pre-war period, chemistry studies were divided into two branches: chemistry technology which was organised at the Technical Faculty and generated chemistry engineers for industry, and chemistry studies which were organised under the Faculty of Philosophy for chemistry profiles for research and pedagogic profession.
The Institute of Chemistry became the focal institution for pedagogic and research work and catered for the needs of other departments of the Technical Faculty, Medical faculty and Faculty of Philosophy. The first university PhD students of technical sciences were in fact generated from the Department of Chemistry; from the beginning of the World War II till 1945 there were 12 doctoral degrees awarded. In the same period, the faculty of Philosophy awarded 11 doctorates in chemistry with the academic title Doctor of Philosophy.
After World War II, study programmes and organisation of study underwent frequent changes. In 1947/48 general chemistry technology was for the first time introduced as a subject together with experimental work in inorganic chemistry, while the share of analytical chemistry exercises became smaller compared to the pre-war period when they had the predominating role. ON the other hand the scope of physical and chemical and chemistry technology subjects increased. In the academic year 1948/49 students could opt between various subject group in specialised chemistry technologies, which was a direct response to the demands of the developing industries.
In 1949/50 the studies were extended from eight to nine semesters with all optional subjects in the last semester, while the additional 10th semester was devoted to diploma preparation. Only minor changes were made in the curriculum and the syllabi gradually started changing in 1953/54, retaining the organisation and content until 1958/59.
With the new University Act in 1954/55 all technical faculties were merged into one, and the Faculty of Chemistry was changed into a department with two units: chemistry and physics. By changes in the legislation in 1957/58 the Technical Faculty was divided into three separate faculties: mining, metallurgy and chemical technology, the last including the department of chemistry and textile technology. The physics unit detached in the following year and became an independent department.
In 1961/62 the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology was established. Chemistry department was divided into four units: Chemistry, Chemical technology, Textile technology and Pharmacy. In 1962/63 the Textile technology department became independent, followed by Pharmacy which became an independent department as well.
Soon the Chemistry Unit of the Faculty of Natural Sciences joined the Faculty of Chemistry, which so far had run programmes for teacher education for secondary schools (majors in chemistry and physics or chemistry – biology). Thus a new study stream Natural Sciences was introduced. Also, two-level university courses were introduced.
In 1962/63 a new two-year postgraduate study programme in chemistry and chemical technology was introduced. The first year was devoted mainly to lectures and study, while in the second year students focused on writing the thesis. Both programmes were adapted to the interest of the candidates and encompassed compulsory and optional subjects. The chemical technology programme had less compulsory and more optional subjects compared with the chemistry stream which was organised in four groups of study: Inorganic, Organic, Physical-chemical chemistry and Biochemistry.
University programmes were partially changed after 1970 when career-oriented education was introduced to secondary school. The studies took four years with an additional year for diploma preparation. In the third year of Chemistry studies students could opt for one the following streams: Inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry, Analytical chemistry, Physical chemistry and Biochemistry. In addition to this, Chemistry Education programme for secondary schools was introduced. Students of the Chemistry stream could make a choice between Chemistry Technology and Chemical Process Engineering in the third year. The study of Leather Technology was organised as a two-year university study programme.
In 1998/1999 The Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology introduced a completely new university four-year programme of Biochemistry which has become very popular among students, while Chemical engineering programme was modernised as well.
At the beginning of the 90’s the scope of teaching hours was reduced to 750 hours per year which demanded corresponding changes in the programme. Thus the maximum number of teaching hours including laboratory exercises came to 3,300 hours for university programmes in Chemistry, Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering.
When the state school-leaving exam (Matura) was introduced to secondary schools, the university programmes had to adapt to the changes too. This meant that only the students with the Matura exam could enrol to university programmes which are four-year courses leading university degree, while previous two-year programmes were transformed into three-year higher professional programmes which end up with practical work in companies or research institutions. To enrol these programmes either regular Matura exam or Vocational Matura are required. This new change brought about some changes in academic titles as well.
When Slovenia started with the activities for joining the EU, the University and all its members had to adopt the European Credit and Transfer System, which would allow for the mobility of students among the universities abroad.
The establishment of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology
Following the discussions among the members of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology and based on the decisions of the Pedagogical and Scientific Board it was decided that the Faculty be reorganised and divided into several independent faculties. On December 21, 1994 the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology was officially established by the decree of the University of Ljubljana (Official Gazette. RS No. 82/94). The first dean was Prof. Dr. Jože Škerjanc, who made an important contribution to the formation of the Faculty. In 1995 Higher Technical Safety School joined the Faculty as a Department of Technical Safety.
Forty years of higher education in safety at work
The education of professionals in safety at work in Slovenia started as early as 1954, when the Institute of Safety at Work of Slovenia was established. At that time the educational programme was organised as a one-year distance study programme which catered for the needs of Slovenia and other Yugoslav republics. The language of instruction was Slovenian and Serbo-Croat. In 1958 the Institute started with some activities which lead to the formation of the first professional higher school for safety at work in 1960 within the Institute for the Education of Professionals and Labour Organisation in Kranj. In 1963 the programme was upgraded with technical subjects and the school was renamed to Higher Technical Safety School which existed within the College of Labour Organisation in Kranj.
The first independent school for safety at work in Europe started in fact in 1966, when the Union of Safety Engineers and Technicians established an independent Higher Technical Safety School. The programmes were verified in 1969. In spite of the many obstacles due to the changing legislation, and tendencies to abolish the school, which so far had generated numerous professionals in the field, the school has played an important role in developing and implementing the concept of safety at work and forming safety culture in Slovenia.
Until 1978 the school existed as an independent organisation, and was then attached as a new member to the University of Ljubljana. The deans of the school in the 80’s were Vladimir Drusany and Jože Janežič.
With the reform in 1985, the school introduced a new programme in Fire Safety. Initially the programmes were organised as two-year professional programmes. Due to a constant demand of professionals who were complaining about a too low degree and lesser job opportunities, it was necessary to transform the studied to three-year programmes leading to the title of Engineer in Occupational and Fire Safety. This change took almost ten years.