The Pontifical Bolivarian University (UPB) or Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Spanish was founded in 1936. It is a private university which began with 78 students enrolled in the School of Law, with Monsignor José Sierra as its first rector. The university was granted the title of Pontifical from the Holy See under Pope Pius XII in 1945. With this title, the Pope technically became the Grand Chancellor of the university.
Although its main campus is in Medellin, it also has campuses in other Colombian cities including Bogota, Bucaramanga, Monteria and Palmira. It is known for having the oldest industrial design programme in Colombia, one of the first nanotechnology programmes and the first video game design engineering programmes in the country.
It has one of the oldest and best law schools and the medical programme is known to be one of the best in the country too. At the moment, it offers 77 undergraduate programmes, 24 master's programmes and seven doctorate programmes. UPB also operates elementary and high school programmes under its educational umbrella. As of April 2018, the Pontifical Bolivarian University estimated its nationwide student population to be 30,000.
UPB is a member of different international associations and programmes. It is also a chair of UNESCO on Human Development and a member of the Foundation for Studies in France. UPB belongs to the Sígueme Program, a group of 10 Colombian universities, and has agreements with universities across the world, including in Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Several of its distinguished former students include former President of Colombia Belisario Betancur Cuartas and former First Lady of Colombia Lina Maria Moreno Mejia.