Internationalisation at the University of Padova dates back to past centuries, when distinguished students from all over Europe used to come to Padova to study.
Indeed, “Sala dei Quaranta”, a hall next to today’s Great Hall in Palazzo Bo, is dedicated to 40 ‘greats’ from all over Europe. These are portrayed on the walls surrounding a podium from which Galileo once taught to a wide European audience. Among the most illustrious figures, the University of Padova boasts authoritative scholars like William Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the blood; curious figures like Oliver Goldsmith, a wandering Irish poet and writer of the 18th century; severe men like Francis Walsingham, a famous statesman in the service of Queen Elizabeth I and founder of the government’s secret services; and courageous men like Michel de L’Hospital, collaborator of Catherine de Medicis, Queen of France, and champion of religious tolerance. Another scholar, Stefan Batory from Hungary, became Prince of Transylvania in 1571 and later King of Poland. The 40 portraits in this hall are emblematic of the University of Padova and of its long-standing traditions in the field of internationalisation.
Today, the University of Padova “promotes the furthering of culture founded on universal values such as human rights, peace, respect for the environment and international solidarity” (Article 1 of its Statutes, 2014). The international dimension of the University is not only witnessed by many spontaneous activities, such as the countless research cooperation projects individually promoted by teachers and researchers and the teaching now offered to as many as 1,500 regularly enrolled foreign students, but also by the existence of several bilateral agreements of ‘traditional’ type, extensive participation in European programmes for research and education, cooperation with developing countries, and – last, but not least – by committed participation in the project activities of the Coimbra Group (the network of historical European universities) as well as other excellence networks.