On March 7, 1941, the University of Costa Rica opened its doors in the capital neighborhood Gonzalez Lahmann with a total of 719 students.
The University is structured as a tripartite entity with a University Assembly, a University Council, and a University Presidency. Since its onset, its governing, administrative, and financial autonomy has been part of its organizational model, as dreamed by Luis Demetrio Tinoco, and as stated in Article 4 of its founding law. Since the beginning, the university has been a state entity as it provides a service that guarantees the equality of opportunities to have access to education and that is linked to democracy.
In 1946, several scholars such as Carlos Monge Alfaro, Abelardo Bonilla Baldares, and Rodrigo Facio Brenes got concerned about the seemingly disconnection of the various schools of the University. Thus, in that year, the First University Congress was organized. The fundamental result of this activity was the creation of the School of Humanities, which would operate as a unifying and articulating element in the institution.
Meanwhile, a project to build a university campus was presented. Construction started in San Pedro de Montes de Oca in 1956. The building of the College of Engineering was actually the first to be built.
As a consequence of the discussions of the previous years, in 1957, the University defined itself as “a general humanistic culture” entity, and it is reorganized into three sections: Humanities (sciences and letters), professional colleges and schools, and the College of Higher Studies.
Later on, after the Third University Congress in 1973, it was proposed to regionalize the institution; one of the main promoters of this movement was Carlos Monge Alfaro. The idea was materialized with the opening of the San Ramón Regional Center (known today as the Occidente Campus) under the full name Ciudad Universitaria Carlos Monge Alfaro. Its regional horizon has been expanded by opening campuses in other parts of the country: Atlántico, Limón, Guanacaste, and Pacífico.
Two important outcomes of this congress were the creation of the Vice Presidency of Research and, in 1974, the creation of the Vice Presidency of Social Affairs. The latter focuses on three areas: student social service through its Community Outreach Program, cultural outreach, and dissemination of the university activities in the media.
In 2001 the University of Costa Rica was declared by the Legislative Assembly as Meritorious Institution of the Education and Culture of Costa Rica through Decree No. 8098. Since 2011, the University of Costa Rica has been improving its position in the Latin American university ranking as it went from the 59th position in 2011 to the 26th in 2013.
The University of Costa Rica offers the students a wide variety of services and resources. Through these services, the University seeks to complement the student’s formation process, development and college experience. Some of these services available to students are:
The University of Costa Rica houses a permanent average population of 40 000 students, distributed between its main campus and its regional campuses.The main campus of the University of Costa Rica is the Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio, named after Rodrigo Facio Brenes, former President of the University who in the 50s and 60s led the reform that had made of the Institution one of the best known in the hemisphere.The Rodrigo Facio Campus is located in San Pedro de Montes de Oca, very close to the heart of the capital city, just three kilometers eastward of San Jose downtown, and it is divided into three large sectors: