The University of Siena in Tuscany is one of the oldest universities in Italy.
Founded in 1240, the university underwent massive expansion in the 20th century, growing from a cohort of 400 students between the World Wars, to its current one of around 20,000-strong.
The number of faculties increased alongside student numbers, evolving from an original offering of medicine, surgery and law to a broad and diverse academic portfolio across 15 academic departments. Courses are taught in either Italian or English, and summer schools exist for professionals and students looking to develop their specific knowledge in many fields.
Much of the university is sited in renovated historical buildings, such as the departments of engineering, humanities and social sciences which use rooms in what was once the San Niccolò Psychiatric Hospital. Similarly, the former Convent of Santa Chiara, transformed to decades ago to create the first collegiate accommodation in Italy for the postgraduate students, hosts today the innovation lab of the University of Siena.
Students at Siena are encouraged to take up the various opportunities for industry experience on offer and practical work experience is integrated into most degree courses.
As the university has grown, new sites have been built within the city centre, their architectural style in keeping with the historic architecture that surrounds them.
Students make up a large proportion of the total population of Siena, lending the city a young, dynamic feel. In 2012 the newspaper La Repubblica placed Siena first among Italian universities in terms of services, grants, and internationalisation.
Located in the heart of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, Siena boasts excellent transport links with Florence, Rome, Milan, Naples and other major cities. It is also one of the less touristy parts of Italy, meaning that students can truly immerse themselves in the local culture. Besides, the university offers a lot of cultural occasions with well known national and international academics, intellectuals and artists.