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General University Charter of 1863 approved in Russia

30 June 1863

On June 18 (30), 1863 Emperor Alexander II approved the Russian University General Charter.

The first Russian University Charter was approved on January 12 (23), 1755 as the ‘Project on Moscow University foundation’ according to which the University reported to Senate and was governed by curators assigned by supreme authority. Professors College represented an advisory body under curators; all disciplinary issues had been solved by the University court.

Due to the opening of new universities in the towns of Vilna, Kazan and Kharkov on November 5 (17), 1804, the first University General Charter which established university autonomy was issued. Universities were headed by the Professors Council which elected a chancellor, was charged with sub-departments filling, defined the order of education process, fulfilled the duties of Academic Senate and the highest instance of University court. The universities started to govern the primary and secondary education institutions and carry out the censorship.

During the reign of Nikolai I a new Charter was introduced. It abolished the universities’ autonomy. According to the Charter of July 26 (August 7), 1835 the universities were henceforth governed by academic districts’ wardens who reported to the Ministry of Popular Education. Candidacies for chancellor’s post were now approved by Emperor, those of professors – by a warden. The Professors Council was no longer independent regarding educational and scientific matters.

In the beginning of Alexander’s II reign the question of revision of University Charter of 1835 was raised. However, the government started to elaborate the reform of the high school only in the end of 1861. By the year of 1862 a committee, created especially for this object, had prepared the project of a new university charter.

The Charter of 1863 was the most liberal of all university charters of pre-revolutionary Russia. It extended to five universities existing in Russia at the time: of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Kharkov and Kiev. According to the Charter of 1863, each university had to dispose of 4 departments: History and Philology, Physics and Mathematics, Law and Medicine. The number of staff professors increased in one and half times, new disciplines were implemented and new sub-departments opened consequently. The new charter stipulated that professors were elected as well as the candidates for all administrative positions. It restored the rights of the Professors Council and University Court, doubled the rates of salaries of professors and teachers. Thus the Charter of 1863 provided quite a significant autonomy to Universities.

As a result of governmental reaction enforcement in 1880s, on August 23 (September 4), 1884 another University Charter was implemented depriving the universities of autonomy again, the education fee in secondary and high schools was increased twice preventing the poor from education opportunities. The Charter of 1884 had been in force until February of 1917.

Lit.: Волосникова Л. М. Университетский устав Российской империи 1863 года — режим академической свободы // История государства и права. 2006. № 5; Глинский Б. Б. Университетские уставы (1755-1884) // Исторический вестник. 1900. № 1, 2; Горский А. Новый университетский устав. Варшава, 1910; Ивкина Т. В., Подольская И. А. Система подготовки научно-педагогических кадров российских университетов по университетским уставам 1863 и 1884 гг. // Научный Вестник Уральской Академии государственной службы. 2009. Март. Выпуск № 1 (6); То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Кауфман П. М. Новый университетский устав. СПб., 1909; Петров Ф. А. Формирование системы университетского образования в России Т. 1: Российские университеты и Устав 1804 года. М., 2002; Посохов С. И. Уставы российских университетов XIX в. в оценках современников и потомков // Вопросы образования. 2006. № 1. С. 370-381; Рождественский С. В. Исторический обзор деятельности Министерства народного просвещения 1802—1902 гг. СПб., 1902; Устав Императорского Казанского университета. [Утверждён 5 ноября 1804 г. Александром I]. [Б. м.], [18--]; Эймонтова Р. Г. Университетская реформа 1863 г. // Исторические записки. Т. 70. М., 1961.

From the Presidential library materials:

Записка Комиссии [по пересмотру устава Варшавского университета]. [Варшава, 1901];

Материалы, собранные Отделом Комиссии для пересмотра общего устава российских университетов при посещении их в сентябре, октябре и ноябре 1875 г. СПб., 1876;

Общие уставы императорских российских университетов 1863 и 1884 гг. Одесса, 1901;

Общий устав и временный штат императорских Российских университетов, а также расписание должностей и окладов содержания по инспекции в университетах. СПб., 1884;

Проект Общего устава императорских российских университетов. СПб., 1862;

Проект общего устава императорских российских университетов. СПб., 1862;

Сравнительная таблица уставов университетов 1884, 1863, 1835 и 1804 гг. СПб., 1901;

Степанов Я. С. По поводу пересмотра устава университетов. Казань, 1878;

Университетский устав 1863 года. СПб., 1863.