The University of Insubria is an Italian university located in Como and Varese, with secondary locations in Busto Arsizio and Saronno. It was founded in 1998, it has been named after the area where it is situated, the historical-geographical region of Insubria.
The University of Insubria, which includes two main sites, in Como and in Varese, was incorporated on July 14, 1998, but the institution which thus became a University had earlier origins. In 1972, a University Centre had been established in Varese as an extension of the Faculty of Medicine of University of Pavia followed in 1990 by an extension of the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences and of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Milan. In 1989, a University Centre had been established in Como as an extension of the Engineering Faculty of the Politecnico di Milano university and of the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Milan.
In Como during the fifteenth century at the College of Chartered Jurisconsults there was a University School with three chairs: Moral Theology (active since 1473), Mixed Canon Law (founded in 1656 by Thomas Verga) and Institutions (founded in 1656 by Francesco Benzi). This University remained active until the year 1795.
Since 1989 indeed Como has been the center for regular degree courses in Engineering which were arisen precisely from Politecnico of Milan as well as in Science and since 1994 in Law, originated from the University of Milan.
In the frame of Governmental reform designed to solve the problems of overcrowed universities in Italy, plans were made to establish new universities, some of which had to include a network of sites.
In 1996-1997, the Osservatorio Nazionale, the Italian national office for the assessment of the University system, had visited the facilities in the University sites in Como and Varese, where other Faculties had been opened in the meantime, and had suggested that a new University featuring an organisation based on two Delegacies should be opened.
In Italy, this was one of the first proposals aimed at establishing a University network. The new University of Insubria is in a large centre of population, and has close cultural and academic relationships with the Universities of Milan and Pavia, upon which it is based, as well as with the other Universities in the Insubria territory, including the Canton Ticino(Switzerland).
The University of Insubria acquired full status on July 14, 1998. The newly established University, which is anchored to the traditions of the Insubria territory is the first example of a network based organisation as suggested by the Osservatorio Nazionale in its assessment of the Italian University system.
The University of Insubria implied a radical change in the local historical development, which was socially and economically expensive because the territory was organised as a suburb of city of Milan, and horizontal connections were inadequate for the population growing needs. Today more than 7,000 students no longer commute between Varese and Milan or Como and Milan.